For some people, the term “Ring Nation” might evoke a warrantless surveillance dystopia overseen by an omnipotent megacorp. To Amazon-owned MGM, Ring Nation is a clip show hosted by comedian Wanda Sykes, featuring dancing delivery people and adorable pets.
Deadline reports that the show, due to debut on September 26, is “the latest example of corporate synergy at Amazon.” Amazon owns household video security brand Ring, Hollywood studio MGM, and Big Fish, the producer of Ring Nation
Viral videos captured by doorbell cameras have been hot for a while now. You can catch them on late-night talk shows, the r/CaughtOnRing subreddit, and on millions of TikTok users’ For You page. Amazon’s media properties, perhaps sensing an opportunity to capitalize and soften Ring’s image, are sallying forth with an officially branded offering.
Ring Nation will feature “neighbors saving neighbors, marriage proposals, military reunions and silly animals,” Deadline writes. But Ring Nation might be aiming even higher, according to Ring founder Jamie Siminoff—to something approaching a salve for our deeply divided nation.
“Bringing the new community together is core to our mission at Ring, and Ring Nation gives friends and family a fun new way to enjoy time with one another,” Siminoff told Deadline. “We’re so excited to have Wanda Sykes join Ring Nation to share people’s memorable moments with viewers.”
Ring sharing its owners’ moments with other viewers has been a contentious issue. The surveillance company recently admitted giving police access to Ring recordings without user consent for “emergency” requests. Ring partnered with more than 600 law enforcement agencies to encourage Ring installations in communities and ease police access to footage. Ring has since made it easier to opt out of police requests.
Ring owners already had a lower-key way to share clips, mostly of crime or purported crime, through the Neighbors app. Doing so essentially reveals your location at a granular level. Responding to Congressional inquiries in the past, Ring cited users as being responsible for violating their neighbors’ privacy, noting that it includes stickers and signs that comply with some states’ public recording policies.
Ring Nation producer Big Fish is also, incidentally, the producer of Live PD, the police ride-along series canceled after the George Floyd killing and resulting protests, but the show was recently revived.