Category Archives: Popular Culture

Speaking Of Doing The Right Thing For Unethical Reasons, TV Land Has Pulled “The Dukes of Hazzard”

Wait, there's a CAR in this photo?

Wait, there’s a CAR in this photo?

You know, I think I’m as sensitive as anyone (sane) to nascent racism, and yet somehow I missed the fact, when in my youth I would watch  TV’s “The Dukes of Hazzard” for an average of six minutes before thinking, “BOY is this dumb!” and change the channel lest my IQ be permanently lowered, that the show was a KKK product. That’s because there was nothing vaguely racist or even Confederacy-ish about the show, except the flag design on the fictional super-car the good ol’ Duke boys drove, “The General Lee,” named after a historical figure who, you will recall, was a Confederate general. What would you expect a car called the General Lee to have on its roof, the Portuguese flag?

Never mind. TV Land, the cable channel that celebrates TV shows so old that they provoke mid-life crises by their very existence, just decided to join the political correctness purge that has the Park Service representing at its battlefields that the Union prevailed over a mysterious foe Which Cannot Be Named, and which definitely had no flag to fight for. It has pulled “The Dukes of Hazzard” from its schedule….not because it is trash and no more worthy of preservation for future generations than less popular stinkers like “It’s About Time,” “Pink Lady and Jeff,” “Mr. Terrific” or “Hart to Hart,” but because of the design on the roof of the car.

As a self-appointed guardian of pop culture history, TV Land is obligated to resist such efforts at whitewashing, which I assume will also claim every Norman Lear show (You think you are a progressive, Norman? HA! You’re a racist who dealt in toxic stereotypes!!!) like “The Jeffersons,” “Sanford and Son,” and “Good Times.” Ah, but #blackhypersensitivitymatters, you know, a lot more than letting people watch Catherine Bach in her shorts. Continue reading

31 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Train Wrecks, Popular Culture, Race, U.S. Society

Introducing The Ethics Stooges: Bristol, Geraldo, And Dan

three-stooges

They are the perfect  2015 replacements for Larry, Moe and Curly. So diverse! Bristol Palin, a conservative woman; Geraldo Rivera,a Hispanic liberal who works for a conservative news network, and Dan Savage, a progressive gay scold!

Too bad they aren’t funny.

In fact, they are pathetic, and, of course, ethically inert. They also make “Porcupine” and the Howard Boys look classy by comparison, and they showered in their clothes.

First, yecch, Bristol Palin. She is the epitome of a worthless celebrity. Arguably, she is worse that a Kardashian. Her claim to fame is embarrassing her mother by turning up pregnant and unmarried in the middle of the 2008 Presidential campaign. That’s it. That got her a slot on “Dancing With The Stars” and a reality show where she became the poster girl for unmarried motherhood as a clever career move. Then, mind-blowingly, she became a paid advocate for teenage abstinence before marriage, that is, unlike her. In 2011, Palin was paid more than a typical Hillary Clinton college speaking fee—over a quarter million dollars—to be the abstinence spokesperson for the Candies Foundation.

Naturally, she got pregnant sans wedding ring again.

Soon after her engagement to former Marine and Medal of Honor awardee Dakota Meyer ended, Palin announced on her blog this week that she was once more with child, but without husband. “I wanted you guys to be the first to know that I am pregnant. Honestly, I’ve been trying my hardest to keep my chin up on this one,” wrote Palin. “I know this has been, and will be, a huge disappointment to my family, to my close friends, and to many of you,” she wrote. “But please respect Tripp’s and my privacy during this time. I do not want any lectures and I do not want any sympathy.”

Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck!

No sympathy? Deal. But here’s the lecture: you owe the Candies Foundation—which, frankly, deserves this embarrassment for hiring a feckless reality star as a role model for impressionable teens–every cent you accepted as part of your con. But then your life is a con. You have no talent, no integrity, and no excuse for your conduct. Get an education, grow up, and go away. You degrade the culture and America’s values by your very existence. Continue reading

11 Comments

Filed under Character, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Popular Culture, Romance and Relationships, Social Media

Wait, Should I Change The Name Of “The Niggardly Principles” To “The Pachycephalosaurus Principles”?

Pachycephalosaurus

Are P.C. crazies attacking “Jurassic World” for using for the supposedly racist term “packies” in the film? Don’t these fools realize that their argument is even dumber than that of the illiterate clods who briefly got a D.C. government worker disciplined for using the word “niggardly” in a meeting?

Well, no, despite what you may have heard, nobody in the U.S. is that far gone. That hasn’t stopped conservative anti-P,C. warriors from falsely claiming otherwise, though.

“Packie” is a nickname used in the fictional dinosaur park for the Pachycephalosaurus, a dome-skulled creature that was also featured in “The Lost World,” the second “Jurassic Park” sequel. Exactly what else would you call them? Even by the standard of dinosaur names, this is a tough one, and a short, easily pronounceable monicker is both necessary and potentially life-saving. By the time someone has spit out, “Look out! There’s a charging Pachycephalosaurus coming right for you!,” you are mashed, believe me. What’s the alternative, “Phaloses”?  That has its own problems “Pachies” is the obvious and reasonable choice.

Yet because an escape of  these prehistoric things from their enclosures in the theme park causes  one character to shout, “The Packies are out of containment!,” Twitter users, commentators, political correctness fascists and insane people are seriously accusing the film of being “racist” in Great Britain, where “packie” is a racial slur for something or other: I really don’t care. It has nothing to do with the Pachycephalosaurus, dinosaurs, or “Jurassic World.”  Thus the Independent, echoing many Brits on social media, called the line “very racist.” That’s moronic, of course. Continue reading

28 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Race, Social Media, The Internet, Unethical Blog Post

The Idiot Effect

Or would you prefer, "The Old Man and the Sea"?

Or would you prefer, “The Old Man and the Sea”?

Last night, in a rash moment, my wife and I used pay-per-view last night to watch a film called “The Lazarus Effect.” The “effect” seems to be that when you use an experimental medical procedure to bring someone recently deceased back from death, what arrives is not the same person but an altered, super-powered mutation FROM HELL!!!! The movie wasn’t terrible as mad experiments gone horribly wrong films go,  but what was immediately impressive about it was its length: the thing was running credits before an hour and fifteen minutes was up.

That’s a movie? In the Sixties and Seventies there were weekly TV dramas longer than that even if you didn’t count the commercials.

Recent studies have documented the diminishing attention span of the average American, with the young leading the way. The reasons for this are a matter of debate, but there is no doubt that the news media, entertainment industry and the arts are both accommodating this disability and contributing to it. The consequences are dire. Continue reading

30 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Education, Journalism & Media, Literature, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

Good, I Can Scratch That Off My Ethics Mysteries List: Han Shot First After All!

Star Wars Bar Script

Peter Mayhew, a.k.a. Chewbacca the Wookie, has released to the internet the page from his original Star Wars script that answers the crucial ethics dilemma discussed on Ethics Alarms in 2012.

As it seemed when we all first saw the film, Han Solo shot the porcupine fish-headed space-thug Greedo with a blaster before being fired upon, and I have no problem with that at all. It was self defense.

Nonetheless, a large group of activists, led by Greedo’s family’s lawyer and whipped into a frenzy by cable TV, demonstrated and protested based on a bar patron’s false report that Greedo had his hands up at the time. Luckily, the film proved this was false, though “Hands up! Don’t blast!” survived as a provocative refrain.

________________________

Pointer and Spark: Tim LeVier

51 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Popular Culture

“The Longest Day,” Darryl F. Zanuck, D-Day, And Us

title_longest_day_bluray

Today is June 6, the anniversary of the Allies’ invasion of Normandy, the audacious military strike that changed the course of history. I’ll be interested in seeing how it’s commemorated this year, 71 years later, especially by the news media. A lot of Americans under the age of 40 know almost nothing about it, or worse, the values it represents to the United States.

Fortunately, there is an easy and entertaining way to teach a young American about what happened on this day 71 years ago. That is to have him or her watch “The Longest Day,” producer Darryl F. Zanuck’s epic film based closely on historian (and sole credited screenwriter) Cornelius Ryan’s 1959 book. (You can get it at Amazon, here.)I usually find understanding military battles nearly impossible; written accounts completely confound me, and few movies about any battle make a serious effort to explain the tactics and strategy without reducing the facts to pablum. (I remember how much my father, who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, detested the big budget movie of the same name, which he found outrageously sloppy, and which he summarized as “Henry Fonda won the war.”)

Not “The Longest Day,” however. Since seeing the movie with my father as a kid, I have learned a lot about what was left out, but the movie is remarkably clear and accurate about what happened and why without being either too detailed or too simplistic. It’s also just a great, inspiring movie.

That we have “The Longest Day” is entirely due to the courage of one of Hollywood’s most dynamic, flamboyant and successful studio moguls, Darryl F. Zanuck. The original producer of the adaptation of Ryan’s book (which is terrific ) gave up on the project when 20th Century Fox refused to allow him an adequate budget. Zanuck, who was still producing films but no longer ran the studio he had built,  bought the rights, and was determined to do the story, the event, and the men who fought the battle justice by mounting a production almost as ambitious as the invasion itself. Continue reading

97 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, History, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, U.S. Society, War and the Military

Ethics Dunce: Actor and Ex-“George” Jason Alexander

susan-ross

The gag on “Seinfeld” was that all four of the main characters (and most everyone else, too) were selfish, neurotic, essentially horrible people. Michael Richards signaled that he might have been channeling his inner creep into “Kramer” when he had a spontaneous racist meltdown during a stand-up gig, effectively destroying his career. Now we have learned what a mean-spirited, gratuitously cruel jerk Jason Alexander is. And I always thought it was just the fact that he was playing mean-spirited, gratuitously cruel jerk Larry David as “George Costanza.”

The “Seinfeld” episode in which George’s rich, odd fiancee Susan Ross died by licking too many cheap wedding invitation envelopes has always been controversial, as many critics and fans felt that it caused the show’s characters to cross over the line from endearingly strange and self-involved to outright despicable—especially George, who received the news of her death with thinly veiled relief.

In an interview with a genuinely despicable individual, Howard Stern, Jason Alexander, previously “George Costanza,” was asked by Stern how Susan’s sudden death became an episode.

“This poor girl,” Alexander said, chuckling.  “The actress is this wonderful girl, Ms. [Heidi] Swedberg… I love her. She’s a terrific girl. I love her. I couldn’t figure out how to play off of her.”

Stern: “You’re being kind.”

“No,” said Alexander, meaning “Yes.”  “Her instincts for doing a scene — where the comedy was — and mine were always misfiring.”

Alexander went on to say that his castmates told him he was being unfair until they had to play scenes with Swedberg. “Finally, they do an episode where Elaine and Jerry have a lot of material with her,” Alexander said. According to Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Seinfeld concurred afterward that it was ” fucking impossible” to play off of her.

Alexander then fingered the actor who sealed “Susan’s” doom.  “Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Elaine”) actually said, ‘I know — don’t you just wanna kill her?’” “Seinfeld” co-creator and writer Larry David then agreed to execution by envelope.

“Every time I tell this story I cringe,” Alexander said, “because Heidi is the sweetest.”

In a career turn that sounds like a  punchline, Swedberg now lives by teaching the ukulele and leading her own ukulele band.

Alexander, not to be excessively harsh, is scum. Continue reading

9 Comments

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