Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

Comment of the Day: “Now THAT Was A Rape Culture…”

Blogger and esteemed commenter here Rick Jones shares my passion for theater and is also, like me, a stage director, but seldom has a chance to weigh in on that topic. My post about the troubling lyrics in “Standing on the Corner,” the best known song in Frank Loesser’s “The Most Happy Fella” gave Rick a chance to swing at a pitch in his wheelhouse, as the baseball broadcasters like to say, and he didn’t disappoint.

I want to clarify something from the original post. Having noted the lyrics, I was no way  criticizing them or the song, or the musical itself. Older shows are valuable and fascinating in part because they serve as windows on past cultural values and attitudes—that was one of the reasons for the ambitious, important and doomed mission of the theater I have been artistic director of for the last two decades. Such politically incorrect references should never be excised in performance.

“The Most Happy Fella” is a slog, however. Ambitious, sure, but too long, too sentimental, and with too many unavoidable “wince points,” as I call them, to make the show worth the huge investment in talent, money and time that it takes to produce competently. Any time the best songs in a musical are the ones that have nothing to do with the plot (“Standing on the Corner,” “Big D,” and “Abondanza!”, which in in the clip above) it’s ominous. The 1925 Pulitzer Prize-winning hit play this pseudo-opera was based on, “They Knew What They Wanted” by Sydney Howard, is much better.

Here is Rick’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Now That Was A Rape Culture…”: Continue reading

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Now THAT Was A Rape Culture…

I just happened to be surfing past the  Broadway Channel on Sirius XM, and found myself startled at the tone of the lyrics of that Hit Parade smash from the 1956 musical, “The Most Happy Fella,” by the great composer/lyricist Frank Loesser, “Standing on the Corner (Watching All The Girls Go By)”—especially at the end:

Saturday, and I’m so broke
Haven’t got a girl, and that’s no joke
Still I’m living like a millionaire
When I take me down to Main Street and I review the harem parading for me there..

Standing on the corner watching all the girls go by
Standing on the corner underneath the springtime sky!

Brother, you can’t go to jail for what you’re thinking
Or for the “Woo!” look in your eye
You’re only standing on the corner watching all the girls
Watching all the girls, watching all the girls
Go by!

Nobody saw anything wrong with these sentiments in 1956. It was fun, it was cute, it was innocent! A bunch of guys hanging out, leering and ogling women as they walked on the sidewalk, with “woo”—that is, lust— in their eyes and illegal thoughts in their brains, and periodically wolf-whistling at “the harem.”

Sometimes we forget—sometimes women especially forget—that our culture’s ethics regarding sexual etiquette and respect does advance, and has, as much as self-serving activists would have us believe otherwise.

 

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“Ick Factor” At Its Worst: No, The Bystander Who Took The Video Of Walter Scott’s Shooting Isn’t “Cashing In”

Q. "Oh, ICK! Why would you take money for THAT?" A. Because it's valuable, they want it, and I own it, you idiot.

Q. “Oh, ICK! Why would you take money for THAT?”
A. Because it’s valuable, they want it, and I own it, you idiot.

Slate Magazine’s Josh Voorhees seems to think there is something unseemly about Feidin Santana, the bystander who recorded the film on his smartphone showing North Charleston police officer Michael T. Slager shooting and killing Walter Scott on April 4, seeking payment from news outlets who use his video.

In an article revealing that Santana’s lawyers are making the case that he is entitled to compensation, Voorhees writes, “While it may seem opportunistic to try to make money off a video of someone’s death…” and later,

“Regardless of how you feel about Santana trying to cash in, if nothing else it provides another incentive—albeit a less noble one—for bystanders to whip out their phones and start filming when they see a police confrontation.”

Let me be uncharacteristically blunt: anyone who sees anything unethical, unseemly, ignoble or opportunistic about Santana seeking fair payment for his property when it is being used by news outlets all over the country as if the video was shot by their own employees is either… Continue reading

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Wait…WHAT? Where Does A Law School Get Off Ordering Students Not To Talk About George Clooney’s Wife?

Of course, Columbia could order Amal from not dressing like this, but that would be outrageous.

Of course, Columbia could order Amal from not dressing like this, but that would be outrageous.

Every day, I am more amazed that I got through my formal education without being suspended, expelled or arrested.

From the New York Times:

At 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Amal Clooney walked into Classroom 103 in William and June Warren Hall at Columbia Law School. The human rights lawyer and wife of the actor George Clooney …was by herself, far from the tangle of paparazzi who gather outside the Carlyle hotel, where the couple are staying while Mr. Clooney is in town making “Money Monster,” a film directed by Jodie Foster and co-starring Julia Roberts. Ms. Clooney, 37, greeted a man preparing slides for the class in human rights for which she is a guest lecturer this spring. As she spoke, passers-by peeked at her through the sliver of glass in the door. If anyone had thoughts to share about Ms. Clooney, they weren’t talking.

“We are under strict orders not to discuss her or anything about her class,” said a student who declined to give her name. A representative from the law school politely asked a reporter to leave.

What? WHAT? Columbia University can’t “order” students not to talk about a professor! How did they get the idea that they could, or that it was appropriate to try? Of course, Columbia of late has shown less than a sterling respect for the values of academic freedom and the Bill of Rights. Still, this is pure abuse of power.

WHAT? What kind of jello-spined, ignorant, submissive worm are they admitting to Columbia who would accept such outrageous “strict orders”? [ Well, we do have some strong indications…] I couldn’t care less about Ms. Clooney, but if my law school said that to me, I’d hold a press conference.

WHAT? Why  does this woman, who voluntarily thrust herself into the limelight, warrant special privileges that justify restricting a law school’s students right to talk about anything they want to?

University classes have been taught for more than a century by men and women with far more impressive accomplishments and greater fame than Amal Clooney. Shouldn’t Columbia be combating celebrity culture rather than catering to it?

Any students who meekly accept such restrictions on their speech and autonomy are too craven to be trusted to practice law, and no institution that would demand such restrictions should be trusted to teach them.

________________________

Pointer: Above the Law

Facts: New York Times

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Once Again, We Are Reminded That Beauty Is Only Skin Deep. Do ESPN Viewers Care? Should They?

Let me tell you, it's quite a shock when Britt's head spins around and that forked tongue starts flecking...

Let me tell you, it’s quite a shock when Britt’s head spins around and that forked tongue starts flecking…

Anyone who spends much time watching TV knows that “lookism” is the way of the world in the broadcast news business. From Nora O’Donnell on ABC to Robin Meade on HLN to Erin Andrews and the bevy of Fox blondes, it is obvious that if you are female, talent as a reporter won’t get you as far as some beauty contest creds. Plain, even conventionally pretty women are  at a great competitive disadvantage in this field.

One of the more blatant beneficiaries of this bias, ESPN’s Brit McHenry, has just been outed on the web as an ugly human being in a flashy disguise. Her car was towed, and a camera caught the reporter taking out her frustration on the poor clerk who was tasked with collecting her fee.

“I’m in the news, sweetheart, I will fucking sue this place,” McHenry says as the video opens.“Yep, that’s all you care about, is just taking people’s money,” she continues. “With no education, no skillset, just wanted to clarify that. … Do you feel good about your job? So I could be a college dropout and do the same thing? Why, cause I have a brain and you don’t?…Maybe if I was missing some teeth they would hire me, huh? ‘Cause they look so stunning … ‘Cause I’m on television and you’re in a fucking trailer, honey.”

“Lose some weight, baby girl,” she taunted as she left.

Yecchh. Continue reading

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Unethical Quote Of The Week: Cartoonist Garry Trudeau

The exquisitely rendered artwork of Gary Trudeau, circa 1970.

The exquisitely rendered artwork of Gary Trudeau, circa 1970.

“At some point free expression absolutism becomes childish and unserious. It becomes its own kind of fanaticism.”

—-Doonesbury cartoonist and relentless critic of the Right, Garry Trudeau, in a speech delivered on April 10 at the Long Island University’s George Polk Awards ceremony, where he received the George Polk Career Award.

Trudeau is a Yale grad, so perhaps we should cut him some slack muddled thinking. (Kidding!) However, in making his weak case that legitimate and socially acceptable satire only consists of “punching up,” he appeared to be advocating government prohibition of certain kinds of speech, to be designated by Trudeau and his ideological allies, who, of course, know best.

In doing this, Trudeau came very close to aping the popular theme from activists on the Left, especially on campuses, that “hate speech isn’t protected by the First Amendment.” “Hate speech” is an invention of progressives, and is generally defined as political or social criticism of members in good standing of their club, or groups and individuals they sympathize with or approve of.  Saying that you hope Rush Limbaugh’s kidneys fail is funny and deserved;  saying Mike Brown engineered his own demise by attacking a cop is hate speech. It’s easy when you get the hang of it: just look at the world like Gary Trudeau.

Earlier in his speech, he talked about “red lines” in satire, and blurrily–that is, inarticulately enough that he has plausible deniability, called for restrictions on “hateful” cartoons like those that prompted Islamic assassinations in Paris: Continue reading

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Proof Of Evolving Ethics Enlightenment: Bert The Cop Would Have Shot Walter Scott In The Back Too

For those who think that our ethical sensitivities don’t evolve for the better over time, I prescribe a careful viewing of that family classic, “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

At the film’s climax, George Bailey, the self-sacrificing hero who has been granted his inadvertent wish to see what the world would be like if he had never been born, finds the love of his life and (in the life he has given up for this dystopian hell) the mother of his children now unmarried, alone and working as a librarian despite the fact that she looks like Donna Reed. He embraces her, and since she’s never met him in this alternate reality, she screams, believing she is being sexually assaulted by a madman. Kind, jovial police officer Bert is summoned to quell the ruckus, and George, who is a bit upset, punches him in the face to avoid arrest, and runs away. Bert then takes out his pistol and fires it at George repeatedly.

He’s a lousy shot.

In 1946, when audiences first saw this film, nobody thought there was anything unusual about Bert’s professional conduct. Many, many films right through the 1960s show police officers, “good guys,” even ones not trapped in a strangely mean alternate reality like Ward Bond’s Bert, shooting at fleeing suspects or criminals. That was considered appropriate police procedure then, and the public, society and U.S. culture saw nothing amiss. You were expected, as a good citizen, to submit to a police officer’s lawful authority. If you resisted arrest and ran, then it was fair and reasonable for the officer to shoot you, ideally after a “Stop or I’ll shoot!” warning. Indeed, many people were shot, and killed, this way. If it was news, it wasn’t on the front page, and it wasn’t considered any kind of an outrage.

Now consider the public and media reaction to Michael T. Slager’s shooting of Walter Scott. We now know that Scott was resisting arrest: he had a bench warrant out on him for non-payment of over $18,000 in child support, and Slager was trying to bring him into custody. Instead of doing as the officer demanded, Scott resisted and ran. Burt would have shot at his back too; the difference is that Slager is a better shot, and George was faster. Slager, however, is completely reviled across the country; even his own lawyer found him so repugnant that he refused to represent him.

That represents a massive shift in cultural values in a little over half a century. Continue reading

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