Category Archives: Popular Culture

A Single Mother’s Irresponsible Defense of Single Motherhood

To be fair, Murphy had an excuse for being irresponsible: she didn't exist.

To be fair, Murphy had an excuse for being irresponsible: she didn’t exist.

Allow me to stipulate:

1. Katy Chatel has every right to have a child if she wants to.

2. I accept her assertion that she is able to be, and will be, an exemplary parent, and that her child will not suffer in any way for want of a father.

3. Everything in her Washington Post essay “I’m a single mother by choice. One parent can be better than two” may be accurate and correct from her point of view, which as far as her own life is concerned, is all that matters. I will accept, for the purpose of this post, that it is correct.

4. This is a free country, and she can express any opinion that she chooses.

 Nevertheless,  she should not have written the article, which is irresponsible and cannot avoid doing more harm than good. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Family, Gender and Sex, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

The Unethical French Animator, the Mammalian Duck, Dysfunctional Ethics Alarms

“Oggy and the Cockroaches” is a French animated comedy series produced by Xilam and Gaumont Film Company. Its future on the Nickelodeon children’s TV cartoon channel NickToons is in doubt, however, after the channel was thrust into an unwanted controversy by an unknown French cartoonist’s practical joke.

A recent episode that aired on NickToons featured a brief view of a framed wall hanging showing a cartoon female duck sporting a pair of bikini briefs, sunglasses and bouffant hair-do, and most significantly, naked torpedoesque breasts of a variety more familiar to afficionados of “Fritz the Cat” than the target audience of eight-year-olds. Naturally, the station was deluged with complaints from parents.

The NickToons  website now appears to have removed the show from both its schedule and its homepage. Good start. It should also end any relationship it may have with Xilam and Gaumont.

I know cartoonists are not known for an excess of maturity, but a network needs to be able to reside a modicum of trust in its contractors, suppliers and partners. If an animator would think it’s funny to slip a topless, sexy duck into a kid’s show, then who is to say the next “joke” won’t be a giant talking penis or Adolf Hitler having sex with a cow?

Far more disturbing than the prank itself are the rationalizations and justifications being offered for it in online comments to the story and in social media: Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Popular Culture, Professions, U.S. Society

The Unethical Cosby Victim: Jewel Allison

accuser

The thirty or so declared victims of sexual assault by Bill Cosby (sorry: when we get into double figures, “alleged” is misleading) have given various reasons for not reporting the crimes against them: fear of Cosby’s power, fear of retribution from the entertainment industry, fear of publicity, fear of not being believed, fear of humiliation. A recent addition to the list, however, has given an unequivocally unethical explanation for her 20 year silence in a Washington Post op-ed that has been called “courageous.” Jewell Allison’s confession is not courageous. It is disturbing and ominous. It shows what the trauma of the black experience in the United States has done to some African Americans, causing them to place group identification above reason, decency, good citizenship, compassion and common sense.

She writes:

“When I first heard Andrea Constand and Tamara Green publicly tell their stories about being drugged and assaulted by Cosby, I wasn’t relieved; I was terrified. I knew these women weren’t fabricating stories and conspiring to destroy America’s favorite dad, but I did not want to see yet another African American man vilified in the media. As I debated whether to come forward, I struggled with where my allegiances should lie – with the women who were sexually victimized or with black America, which had been systemically victimized.”

This makes no ethical sense or rational sense. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Race, U.S. Society

Unethical App: Yik Yak

The cute Yik Yak mascot, hanging out at a fraternity, where ethics go to die.

The cute Yik Yak mascot, hanging out at a fraternity, where ethics go to die.

Yik Yak is a suddenly surging social media app that is running viral on college campuses. The app allows users to post anonymous messages (“yaks”) that only appear to users within a 1.5-mile radius. The New York Times called it “ a virtual community bulletin boardor maybe a virtual bathroom wall at the student union.”

Yik Yak is unethical.

There.

Yik Yak was created in late 2013 by Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, fraternity brothers (and based on their names, escapees from a Dickens novel) who came up with the idea after seeing that there were only a handful of popular Twitter accounts at Furman College, where they were frat brothers, almost all belonging to campus big shots and athletes. With Yik Yak, they say, they hoped to create a more “democratic social media network” where users didn’t need a large number of followers or friends to have one’s thoughts read widely. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Popular Culture, Rights, The Internet

“House of Cards” Ethics: Why Should We Believe TV Journalists and Pundits Have Any Integrity When The Don’t Value It Themselves?

Safer interviews "President Frank Underwood." Morley, Morely, Morely...

Safer interviews “President Frank Underwood.” Morley, Morely, Morely…

The third season of “House of Cards,” a Netflix series about the corruption in Washington, continues to corrupt real Washington journalists and talking heads. On the third season  episode I just watched, “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” was drawn into this alternate universe (or Hell) and George, along with regular panel members Donna Brazile and Matthew Dowd, rendered trenchant if predictable opinions about fictional President Frank Underwood with exactly as much passion and certitude as they do when they aren’t just playing themselves, but being professional analysts whose job it is to objectively enlighten the TV news audience.

With that, they joined CNN’s John King ,Candy Crowley,and Carol Costello, Soledad O’Brien, now with Al Jazeera America, NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Fox’ Sean Hannity, CBS’s Morley Safer of “60 Minutes,”  and Matt Bai as “House of Cards” journalist/actors. I’m sure I missed a few. The mystery is why none of these journalists (and whatever Sean Hannity and Brazile are) don’t hear ethics alarms ringing when invited to sully their already dubious credibility (they are in the news media, after all), by showing themselves reporting and commenting on fiction exactly the way they are seen reporting on reality. Brian Rooney, a media critic who writes “The Rooney Report,” states succinctly what’s the matter with this:

“The trouble with journalists appearing as themselves in entertainment is that the public already has difficulty discerning fact from fiction in the news. Reporters and news organizations survive on truth and trust. Readers and viewers need to believe what they are told so they can make informed decisions. When real reporters allow themselves to be part of fiction, the trust is shattered. They do it with a wink, like they are in on the joke, but it costs them their credibility.”

Well, it would cost them credibility, if they had any. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Professions

SNL’s ISIS Recruitment Commercial

There is supposedly a big social media controversy over this gag SNL ad, starring Dakota Johnson, that simultaneously parodied an Army recruitment promo and satirized the disturbing trend of brainless teens running off to join that terrorist organization that has nothing to do with Islam.

It’s not a controversy when one side is ignorant, censorious, politically correctness- addled, humorless and wrong and the other side isn’t.

The ad is brilliant black comedy and satire, one of SNL’s all-time best. Those who object to it don’t get black humor and satire, which makes their objections as irrelevant as someone allergic to shellfish saying that Legal Seafoods stinks. Nobody’s making them eat there, and they don’t have to watch Saturday Night Live or think it’s funny either. But I don’t care about their opinion, which is uninformed and useless to anyone who understands and appreciates the issues.

Here’s what was good and funny—and ethical– about the parody:

1. It caught the saccharine tone of its model exactly.

2. Its ending was a surprise.

3. It ridiculed ISIS, which deserves ridicule. President Obama claims that the way to withhold respect for the group is to lie about it being a group of Islamic extremists. This is much better, ethical, and doesn’t mislead anyone.

4. Making fun of evil is a time-honored activity, healthy, useful, and effective. I don’t recall anyone saying that Spike Jones was treading on sacred ground with this song:

or that The Three Stooges were trivializing the death camps with this…

5. The satire even cuts two ways. You know, that sweet young girl is also being sent off to kill people when she’s joining the military in the real ad. Like all great satire, this one is subversive and layered. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Humor and Satire, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture, Religion and Philosophy, War and the Military

Downton Abbey Ethics: Evil Barrow’s Ethics Lesson

Downton-abbey-season-5

If some of your PBS watching friends are unclear on those essential ethics analysis tools, the concepts of moral luck and consequentialism, the season finale of “Downton Abbey”( which you can view here) provided a wonderful example of both in action.

Now, settle down, because this takes some table-setting: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Etiquette and manners, Family, Popular Culture