Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

More Oscar Ethics: Ethical Quote (Graham Moore) and Unethical Quote (John Legend) Of The Month

“When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself because I felt weird and I felt different, and I felt like I did not belong. And now I’m standing here, and so I would like this moment to be for this kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere: Yes, you do. I promise you do. Stay weird, stay different, and then, when it’s your turn, and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message to the next person who comes along. Thank you so much!”

—-Graham Moore, 2015 Oscar winner for best adapted screenplay for the movie “The Imitation Game,” in his acceptance speech.

“We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than there were under slavery in 1850.”

John Legend, accepting the 2015 Oscar for Best Song for “Glory” from “Selma.”

Legend’s statement is technically accurate, but misleading in many ways, inflammatory, destructive, and irresponsible.

When you heard it, did you make the distinction between “in prison” and “under correctional control”? Most didn’t—I didn’t— and that was intentional. This is deceit. Correctional control  includes those in prisons, but also those in jails awaiting trial or serving short local sentences; those on parole; and others on probation.  Like all the fake and misleading statistics that fly around, this one is inflated to induce a “Wow!”  A person under probation or parole can live a completely normal and free life, if he or she can avoid breaking the law and some extra rules. Slavery it’s not. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights

Oscar Ethics 2015: The Unforgivable Dishonoring Of Maureen O’Hara

maureen ohara

Usually I follow the Oscars telecast with a post on the recently deceased actors and actresses the Academy unfairly snubs in its annual “In Memoriam” session. There is no excuse for robbing anyone of a last bow and farewell, despite the repeated claim that there “just isn’t enough time” to squeeze everyone in. Last night that dishonest excuse for disrespect and incompetence was rendered more absurd than ever: If there’s time for the longest, slowest, most repetitious speech yet by an Academy official, if there’s time for not one but two inappropriate political rants on the podium by award-winners, if there’s time for so many songs that the show seemed more like the Grammys than the Oscars, then there’s time to flash a couple more faces for a second or two.

This year, the omissions were minimal compared to recent years. I noticed the absence of Richard Kiel (1939-2014),

Jaws

…the giant actor who was best known for playing the James Bond villain “Jaws” in two films, as well as less celebrated monsters, aliens and goons. Marcia Strassman, (1948-2014),

Strassman

who made few films (she was predominantly a TV actress (“Welcome Back, Kotter”), but who was the co-star (with Rick Moranis) of the Disney hits, “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” and “Honey I Blew Up The Kid,” also deserved inclusion, and Polly Bergen (1930-2014)

Polly Bergen

…who played the terrorized lawyer’s wife in the original “Cape Fear”(portrayed by Jessica Lange in the Scorsese re-make) and had significant roles in several other films, was a bad omission.

Because Twitter users are about 12 or have the memories of mayflies, there was much indignation last night over the absence of Joan Rivers and former SNL standout Jan Hooks. I’d leave the appreciations of both to the Emmys, especially Rivers. A couple cameos and doing the voice of the C3PO parody in “Spaceballs” doesn’t constitute a film career, and snarky red carpet interviews are not movie-making.

Those snubs pale in significance, however, to the disrespect shown by the academy not only to one of its all-time great stars, but to its own history, in the treatment of actress Maureen O’Hara. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Etiquette and manners, History, Popular Culture, Workplace

Best Ethics Movie Of The Year: “Whiplash”

I doubt that it will win “Best Picture” at the Oscar (though the consensus seems to be that J.K. Simmons, who dominates the film, has “Best Supporting Actor” in the bag), but “Whiplash” is the best film of the year that explores an ethics conundrum of long standing.

Without spoiling the film for those of you—the odds say a majority—who haven’t seen it, let me explain why.

“Whiplash” is ostensibly about a gifted music student’s quest to become not merely a good but a great jazz drummer. On the way, he encounters a fanatic, merciless, manipulative and demanding teacher (Simmons) who sees the young man’s passion and potential and is determined to either make his greatness bloom or break him trying. The movie raises the eternal question of the ethical obligation of the gifted to use their gifts to enrich society, culture and mankind. Arturo Toscanini once berated Bing Crosby for “wasting” his once-in-a-lifetime voice on popular music rather than opera. Is possession of a remarkable ability or talent something that forces the possessor to live an altruistic existence, subordinating his or her own desires to what will most benefit others? Is it unethical to refuse, to choose another path, one that is less daunting, easier, more relaxing, surer, without the stress, without the burden of chasing perfection and extraordinary success? Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Popular Culture, Sports, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunce: Jillian Michaels

Jillian

There’s no boor like a celebrity boor.

Especially a strong celebrity boor.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that the ex-trainer for TV’s unethical reality show “The Biggest Loser” visited the Northern Virginia locale of The Palm, an up-scale “go to be seen” D.C. steakhouse over the weekend.

She reportedly arrived at the restaurant around 8:30 p.m. and joined a couple in a booth. Witnesses told the Post that Michaels soon began speaking loudly and obscenely, using the vulgarities fuck and cunt repeatedly, as well as multiple variations.   “She used the word ‘f—er’ in just about every variation — noun, verb, adjectives,”diner told the Post.  When another patron finally went over to the table to complain, noting that she was glad she didn’t have her kids with her, Michaels  ridiculed the complaint, saying, “It’s fucking ten o’clock!” Michaels said, according to the witnesses. Then one of her companions told the diner, also using vulgarities, to go listen to someone else’s conversation.

I am glad I wasn’t there. There would have been trouble. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture

Life Imitates Saul

Lawyer Billboard

 The billboard ad of North Carolina lawyer Larry Archie has drawn a lot of attention in the state and on legal ethics forums.

Some observations:

1. I was a little late seeing “Breaking Bad” ( I tend to avoid show with drug dealers as heroes) so I didn’t see the obvious connection between the popular AMC show’s cynical, unethical and effective slime-ball lawyer Saul Goodman, played by Bob Odenkirk, and last year’s jaw-dropping—but funny!—video ad for the services of Pittsburgh criminal lawyer Daniel Muessig.

2. This is why we ignore popular culture at our peril….and I think the legal profession needs to stop laughing and start worrying. People really do think Saul who is a criminal lawyer, is typical, and bar associations are doing very little to dissuade them. This is irresponsible, dangerous, and stupid. The profession has a duty to educate the public about how lawyers are supposed to act and why, and if it whiffs on that obligation (as it has for about the last hundred years) public respect for the justice system will continue to drop. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising, Professions, U.S. Society

Ethics Quote of The Month: Fired Sony Executive Amy Pascal

Good for you, Amy.

Good for you, Amy.

“Here’s the problem: I run a business. People want to work for less money, I’ll pay them less money. I don’t call them up and say, ‘Can I give you some more?’ Because that’s not what you do when you run a business. The truth is, what women have to do is not work for less money. They have to walk away. People shouldn’t be so grateful for jobs. … People should know what they’re worth.”

—Recently fired—because of those hacked e-mails—Sony Pictures chief Amy Pascal, in an interview with journalist Tina Brown at the Women in the World conference in San Francisco. She was addressing her e-mails revealing that actress Jennifer Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in “American Hustle.”

Take that, “77 cents for every dollar”!

My least favorite deceitful statistic took it on the chin with Pascal’s candid and accurate statement, and she ranks Ethics Hero status not just for saying it, but saying it in front of an audience full of women who have supported the lie while cheering and voting for politicians who repeat it.

A large chunk of the disparity between the salaries of men and women for the same jobs is not the product of bias or discrimination, but the natural consequences of females being raised to be less assertive, with lower self-esteem, and their resulting poor negotiating skills. Pascal is placing responsibility squarely where it belongs. This has been one more example of a traditionally mistreated group relying on victim-mongering rather than focusing on personal responsibility, accountability and honesty to address what is well within their power to fix.

Brava, Amy Pascal!

If Sony had any sense or principals, it would give you your job back.

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Ethics Quotes, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Workplace

The Strange And Unethical Case Of The Aging, Ageless, Part-Time Actress

Cheer up, Junie! Remember the sage words of the great Satchel Paige: “How old would you be, if you didn’t know how old you was?”

Cheer up, Junie! Remember the sage words of the great Satchel Paige: “How old would you be, if you didn’t know how old you was?”

In October of 2011, Ethics Alarms offered an Ethics Quiz that asked, “Did the Internet Movie Data Base do anything unethical by publishing the actress’s real age without her permission?” The occasion was a lawsuit asking for over a million dollars in damages by an anonymous film actress who claimed that Amazon’s Internet Movie Data Base harmed her career by researching and publishing her real age without her permission. My conclusion at the time was that Actress X was

“shooting at the wrong villain. If there is age discrimination in Hollywood, confront it: a number shouldn’t disqualify her from any roles at all. I am not saying that fighting such a long-standing tradition in the show business culture isn’t a daunting task, but that’s the real problem, not a web service that conveys information about movies and movie stars by publishing facts.”

Well, it’s almost four years later, this dubious case has wound its way to trial, and we are now learning some fascinating things: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, The Internet, Workplace