Category Archives: Humor and Satire

Cellphone Videos Of Stand-Up Comedy Routines Are Unethical: Ban Them

no cell phonesVulture features an interview with Chris Rock, on which he waxes forth on many topics.I don’t especially care what Chris Rock has to say about Ferguson, but I care a lot about his views on stand-up comedy, where he qualifies as an expert, and the disastrous effect unauthorized videos are having on his art.

Rock has walked off the stage in appearances when he couldn’t stop audience members from filming him, and for very good reasons. He doesn’t want untested, half-baked material to get out to the public via YouTube:

“There are a few guys good enough to write a perfect act and get onstage, but everybody else workshops it and workshops it, and it can get real messy. It can get downright offensive. Before everyone had a recording device and was wired like Sammy the Bull, you’d say something that went too far, and you’d go, ‘Oh, I went too far,’ and you would just brush it off. But if you think you don’t have room to make mistakes, it’s going to lead to safer, gooier stand-up. You can’t think the thoughts you want to think if you think you’re being watched.”

On Elahe Izadi’s Syle Blog in the Washington Post site, other comics voiced similar concerns. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Etiquette and manners, Humor and Satire, The Internet, U.S. Society, Workplace

Comment of the Day: Daily Comics Ethics: When Did Erection Gags Become Appropriate For The Funny Pages?

unicorn

Traversing such seemingly unrelated topics as aphrodisiacs, “Mr. Ed,” post-war culture, literacy, and the evolution of childhood,  Penn’s Comment of the Day is one of my all-time favorites. Here it is, a response to the post, “Daily Comics Ethics: When Did Erection Gags Become Appropriate For The Funny Pages?” I have a lot of reactions, but here are three:

  • If kids really don’t read the funny papers any more, what good are they? Who does read them? The Washington Post and other papers used to take “Doonesbury” out of the section and place it in the main body of the paper on the theory that it’s humor was “adult.” (Of course, “Doonesbury’s” humor has also been non-existent since around 1978—but I’ve never seen an erection joke there, either.)
  • Just because little kids are familiar with the term “horny” doesn’t mean they have any idea of what it refers to.
  • I like the “Mr. Ed” song!

In reply to your rhetorical (and tertiary) query, Jack, you missed (that small part of the) evolution just as we all did and do, because it was an evolution, a slow-moving American tsunami of post-war change beginning in the late 40s.

As a child, I recall controversy, strictly among adults, over things that wouldn’t be even thought of today such as the idea of having a girl (Lois Lane?) take up a weapon against a villain instead of waiting, albeit bravely, for Superman, to come rescue her. It was argued to be unladylike – and therefore, unsuitable for children’s comics — for females to fight for themselves if there was a man around, even as the WACS, nurses and ambulance drivers returned home, joining widowed moms & rosie-riveters in job-hunts. Or unless it was Wonder Woman. And oh the struggles to allow Wonder Woman — she of the skin-molding, crotch-height tights and the noticeable chest bumps, however well armored — into the son’s bedroom. Or the daughter’s wardrobe (next, she’ll want a bra!) Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

Daily Comics Ethics: When Did Erection Gags Become Appropriate For The Funny Pages?

Grimm cartoon

When did I miss the evolution of the newspaper comics, always regarded as the young tyke’s entry into the newspaper perusal habit, into one more entertainment medium requiring ratings and advance parental review? The comic above appeared in today’s Washington Post and elsewhere. I think it’s funny—for a Playboy cartoon. Maybe it’s not too racy for the New Yorker. But the funny pages? Seriously? This is an erection joke! In a strip with Mother Goose in the title! (The strip is “Mother Goose and Grimm” by Mike  Peters, who is also an award-winning political cartoonist.) It refers to the classic naughty line that had censors screaming when Mae West said it (after writing it.) My Dad read the daily comics to me before I could read, then explained the jokes that I couldn’t understand. Is this the kind of joke toddlers will be having explained to them now? Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Etiquette and manners, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, U.S. Society

How Should We Judge Second Apologies?

Sure, who wouldn't think this was funny coming from a member of your school board?

Sure, who wouldn’t think this was funny coming from a member of your school board?

The most important feature of apologies is that they express sincere and honest regret for the real harm done. If the first apology for misconduct fails that test, how much credence should a second attempt have? Does it negate the first apology completely? Ought it to be read and understood in light of the initial, unsatisfactory apology? Or should it be ignored completely as a public relations document crafted to achieve a result, rather than to express genuine contrition?

The case of Chris Harris, a board member for the Hooks Independent School District in the town of Hooks, Texas, provides a fascinating test.

Lat week, Harris posted an image of a Klu Klux Klan member with the caption, “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas”  to his Facebook page. The reaction to this was what almost anyone with a fully functioning cerebrum would expect, a category that Harris does not belong to, or at least did not when he posted it. Perhaps after shouting, “Doh!” or perhaps not, Harris rushed to repair the damage, publishing this apology:

Harris apology 1

Terrible apology! Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Incompetent Elected Officials, Race, The Internet

Note To Advertisers: Babies Are Not Props. Do You Really Need To Have That Explained To You?

Let’s take a little break from the Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck, picking up passengers so fast that I can’t keep up with the manifest, and let Bill Cosby hide for a while, as suddenly all sorts of associates and colleagues are finally admitting that he wasn’t such a nice guy even when he wasn’t raping actresses, and focus on some child abuse—but funny child abuse!

Here’s a recent Halos recent commercial:

Wrong. This is an extreme example, but I frequently see infants being used—that’s the clue, “being used”—in TV shows, ads and movies featuring environments and  conditions that have to be stressful. Making babies cry to sell products or tell a story is unethical: they haven’t consented, they are helpless, and doing this to them is an abuse of power. It is also cruel.

How could a set full of techs and actors not feature any faint ringing of a single ethics alarm while a baby was duct taped to the back of a door? One disturbing sidebar to this “funny video”: some idiots have actually done this:

Go ahead, Halos, give those happy child abusers out there some new ideas.

This one was flagged by child actor advocate, and my friend, Paul Petersen, who has taken action to make sure Halo doesn’t engage in this kind of abuse again.

Babies aren’t props. They are human beings, This shouldn’t have to be taught to any adult, but it obviously does.

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Humor and Satire, Marketing and Advertising

Comment of the Day: On Cosby, Clinton, And An Ethics Dunce Convention In Melbourne, Florida

Why can't a serial rapist be funny and cute?

Why can’t a serial rapist be funny and cute?

Frequent commenter aaronpaschal weighed in with this rich post on the Bill Cosby matter. I will hold my response to the end, because there is much to consider here, and much I disagree with. However, aaron has articulated well the thoughts many are having about the Cos, and I am grateful for the exposition. Here is his Comment of the Day regarding the post, On Cosby, Clinton, And An Ethics Dunce Convention In Melbourne, Florida.

I don’t know if I fully believe the allegations. I don’t know if the girls and women involved should bear some responsibility for choosing to become impaired. I don’t know if Cosby’s career will long survive this uproar – Netflix is dropping all of Cosby’s works in response, and that’ll cost someone a pretty penny.

But I do know that I don’t feel completely at ease with the notion that he faces ruin. That there is no evidence, no words, nothing he could present in his own defense. No courtroom, no trial, no lawyers. That the man who allegedly committed these acts did so a lifetime ago. I’ll admit that the women who have come out don’t have much tangibly to gain – but I also know all too well that revenge, hatred, defending existent lies, even merely time in the spotlight can be powerful motivators for some people (bearing in mind that pursuing justice, speaking the truth, and protecting the innocent are well – it could be any of them, all of them, or more.) There must, however, be SOME motive somewhere, or they would not be stepping forward – if there was truly nothing to gain.

But I do know that his works have always made me laugh, and I will appreciate them for years to come. I know I’ve heard wisdom from him, and these crimes don’t change the wisdom, either. I might not choose to leave my daughter alone with him. And I know that the court of public opinion makes very few wise choices, it is a terrible thing to be tried by it, guilty or innocent, and true justice is rarely found there.

Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Comment of the Day, Gender and Sex, History, Humor and Satire, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunce: Jon Stewart

Meanwhile, Lincoln pretty much just lay around after he was President...

Meanwhile, Lincoln pretty much just lay around after he was President…

Face the Nation had George W. Bush on today as its primary guest,  so the show’s lead in, CBS This Morning, asked its guest, “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, what question he would ask the man who preceded President Obama in the Oval Office.  Stewart’s smirking reply,

“ ‘Tell me about umber and how it helps you in painting cats.’ Jimmy Carter’s like 108? He’s out in Africa pulling guinea worms out of children’s feet, trying to cure them. Bush is at home. ‘Bring me my fruit bowl. Doin’ a still life!”

The technical term for this is, I believe,“being a dick.” Yes, it’s vulgar, but the usual terms don’t quite do Stewart’s gratuitous and unfair nastiness justice in trhis instance.

I recognize that Stewart, who eschewed a flood of well-deserved Democrat jokes over the past five days because he could not get around his massive anti-Republican biases, is in mourning over the GOP electoral avalanche that turned the nation red at all levels of government in all regions. Poor baby. Nonetheless, mocking one President of the United States for his activities in retirement because they do not measure up, in Stewart’s value system, to what Presidents are supposed to do is evidence of a stunning lack of grace, decency,proportion, self-awareness and common sense. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Charity, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, History, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media