Category Archives: Popular Culture

Oh Fine, Now Candy TV Commercials Are Getting Smutty

Reeses

At 8:46 AM, a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups commercial popped on TV. “Women want like to make it last,” bold type told us. “Men are done in seconds.”

“Typical.”

Who decided that gratuitous sexual innuendo is inherently hilarious and appropriate in every context, at every moment? Well, no one yet. Again, it is the boors in ad agencies and clods in corporate boardrooms who are pushing us down this uncivil, impolite, needlessly sleazy path.  We can remind them that there are limits dictated by taste and decorum, or we can just shrug it off, part of the irreversible ratchet process called “defining deviancy down.”

Of course, we can’t expect advertisers to display respect to their audiences if their audiences prove they deserve none.

How long do you think it will be before we see a Reese’s ad featuring a kinky couple mid-sexual romp, and the naked male points to his erect penis, crying, “Hey! You got peanut butter on my chocolate sauce!” Then his partner, after, ah, checking it out, cries, “Mmmmm! But it tastes great!”

At this rate, not long at all.

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

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.

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Pointer: Above the Law

Facts: New York Times

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

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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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, History, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Professions, Religion and Philosophy, Rights

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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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

Double Standard Chronicles: Why Is Mocking The Rolling Stones For Their Appearance More Ethical Than Fat-Shaming Kelly Clarkson?

Rolling Stones

It isn’t. It is just as wrong.

Fox’s Chris Wallace has apologized for making a gratuitous and unkind crack about pop singer Kelly Clarkson’s weight on a conservative talk radio show (he was suckered into it by the host, Mike Gallagher, who has also apologized to Clarkson.)

Today I have seen the above graphic circulating on Facebook with many “likes” and snarky comments about Mick and Keith’s faces.

My restrained reply is “Shut up, jerks, and show some respect.

Original members Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts are over 70 now. Nevertheless, they are embarking on another North America tour. They can still play, in some ways better than ever; Mick can still sing, and can still dance like a chicken. The Stones show passion and professionalism in every performance; those who have seen their concerts leave amazed. The Stones are not like the Beach Boys or the Turtles, croaking out 50-year-old hits to grandparents at county fairs. The Stones can still rock, still have musical integrity, still give their audiences their money’s worth and then some.

I wonder how many of the Facebook trolls writing about how the Stones, who are going to be 73 this year, look old—they are old, and so what? What exactly are they supposed to do about that?—know how hard performing at a professional level is, how exhausting it is, how it impossible to get to sleep for hours after a show because you are soaked with adrenaline, and how much wear and tear it places on the body, emotions and mind.

My guess? Very few. And very few of these obnoxious critics will be able to walk upstairs quickly at the age that the Stones are still rocking arenas. I give three hour, interactive ethics seminars, and I’m a lively speaker. After about two seminars in a week with the related travel, I am fried—and the Stones are expending more energy, more often, then I am. They are also a decade older than I am. I can’t be certain I’ll be able to do my Ethics Chicken Dance when I’m 73. They are an inspiration. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Etiquette and manners, Popular Culture, Professions, The Internet

Statue Ethics: “Hey Lucy, I’m Ho…OH GOD NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!”

Lucy statueIconic comic actress Lucille Ball was born in Celoron, New York, and in 2009 the town’s residents commissioned a statue to honor her. It was designed to show the comedienne performing one of the most famous of her routines on “I Love Lucy,” the “Vitameatavegimin” bit.  For some reason, however, the sculptor either decided to portray Lucy as a creature from Hell, or had never actually seen a picture of Ball and just guessed, badly, at what she looked like. The result, which a sighted “Let’s Honor Lucy” committee member should have rejected at first glance, now stands in the town park, an eyesore and an insult to Ball’s memory.

Now some of the residents are trying to get the town to junk the statue, and rallying Lucy fans to put pressure on the town leadership to act. My question is, what took them so long? Six years of this incompetent abomination is six years too long. A memorial is ethically obligated to honor its subject, not insult and defile her memory. Would the public tolerate a Lincoln Memorial where Abe was sculpted to look like an ape? Would it have stood by at the unveiling and said, “Well, okaaay, I guess we can live with that…I guess. I mean, its paid for and all”?  What’s the matter with the populace of Celeron?
Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Popular Culture

Ethics Dunce: Fox News Anchor Chris Wallace

You won’t read this on The Daily Caller!

Even the pizza deserves an apology...

Even the pizza deserves an apology…

In a radio interview with conservative talk show host Mike Gallagher, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace was riffing on Little Caesars’ bacon-wrapped crust pizza when Gallagher brought up “fat shaming,” which slid into the issue of the current celebrity fat-shaming victim, following in the footsteps of past targets of weight-related ridicule like Kirstie Alley, Roseanne, Adele, Rosie O’Donnell and Lisa Welchel, pop singer Kelly Clarkson.  “Holy cow, did she blow up!” Gallagher said. “She could stay off the deep dish pizza for a little while,” replied Wallace. Ethics Foul , and a vile one. Rude, mean, and completely gratuitous, Chris Wallace has no reason to comment on Kelly Clarkson’s appearance. She’s not a supermodel; she’s a singer, and a really good one who has just has a baby. Her weight is none of his business, and for him to pile on what is already an ugly social media and internet gossip game of mocking Kelly’s dress size is using his prominence to endorse the ugly societal obsession with women’s weight that, as he should know, kills people.

He doesn’t just owe Clarkson an apology.

He owes everyone an apology.

________________

Pointer and source: Mediaite

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Filed under Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture