Ethics Quiz: “The Penniless Girl” And The Yechhh! Competition

"Hey...I'm cute, without shame, ambitious, mean...I could be a reality TV star!"

“Hey…I’m cute, without shame, ambitious, mean…I could be a reality TV star!”

Actress Erin Wotherspoon, 24, lives in Toronto and has an unusual avocation. As she describes it on “A Penniless Girl, Bad Dates and Plenty of Oysters”,

“I’ve got a pretty face & a pretty extensive urban spoon wish list…We all know that getting what you want in life can be tough. Which is why I’ve decided to let someone else finance my dreams. My dream? To eat in pretty restaurants without costing me a penny. You had me at Elk Tartare, lost me at chin strap. Follow me to learn who I screw over, bang and love as I navigate Toronto’s diners, drive-ins & dives.”

Yes, as breezily chronicled on the Tumblr blog, Erin entices unenticing, lonely and hopeful men to feed her at Toronto’s best eateries, then dumps them unceremoniously once the bill has been paid. As her mission statement above demonstrates, she doesn’t see anything wrong with this, despite the fact that it is dishonest, cruel, manipulative and a straight-up violation of both Kantian ethics (don’t use people) and the Golden Rule, as well as a pure as crap example of an ends justifies the means life philosophy. Are some of Erin’s escorts using her as well, essentially buying faux affectionate companionship for the cost of some elk tartare? Oh, surely. Such individuals use their affluence to sully the dignity and integrity of others for a price. The fact that one is being unethical in his dealings with another who is also unethical—mutual users, mutual corrupters—is no justification.

Now, as someone—maybe even Erin—could have predicted, a U.S. reality show producer wants to make a star out of her, and it appears that we may soon be able to watch Ellen dupe wannabe sugar daddies into delicious and free meals weekly.Then she can give an interview to GQ and explain why gays are sinners.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz as 2013 winds down to an ethically depressing finale:

Who is more unethical: “the Penniless Girl” or the TV executives who want to make her rich and famous?

For me, it’s an easy call: the reality show purveyors are much worse than Erin. Selfish, deceptive, exploitive conduct is wrong and more harmful to society the more of it we get. Reality shows and the other ways the United States and its media reward terrible conduct—CNN giving Eliot Spitzer his own show, MSNBC doing the same with Al Sharpton, Fox employing sleazy (but famously sleazy!) Dick Morris, and the radio shows for the likes of Ollie North and G. Gordon Liddy come to mind, and now I’m nauseous again—make being unethical (or drunk, or stupid, or pathetic) a ticket to stardom, and even a desirable career path. It isn’t only reality shows, of course. It’s Republicans cheering Phil Robertson as if what he said wasn’t offensive; it’s Joe Wilson getting boat-loads of contributions off of shouting “You Lie!” at the President of the United States; it’s Tom Delay and Kim Kardashian getting gigs on “Dancing With The Stars” for being indicted and making a sex tape, respectively; it’s Kanye West, Miley Cyrus and other pop “sensations” receiving dawn to dusk publicity and inflated recording sales by behaving badly. We stifle liberty and expression by organizing boycotts against those whose conduct is objectively or subjectively offensive, but to reward them for it is courting cultural suicide, and turning the usual process of establishing healthy societal standards upside-down and inside out.


Pointer: Fark

Facts: Toronto Sun, Tumblr

Graphic: Toronto Sun

9 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: “The Penniless Girl” And The Yechhh! Competition

  1. …how is what she does going to work as a TV show? Won’t the fame be the antidote to plan, as people recognize her and won’t fall for the plan?

    • I thought of this too, but then realized that it’s a false premise.

      On the “reality” TV show, the dinner dates will all be planned and scripted, and the “duped men” will simply be actors. The check will be paid for–in fact–by the advertisers whose ads run during the show (and/or the restaurants who comp the meal in return for the free exposure of being on television).

      Because . . . c’mon . . . it’s one thing to go out with a guy and have him pick up the check. It’s entirely something ELSE to do so with a dozen hot spotlights, 8 cameras, and a director shouting “cut” and telling you to repeat what you just said, but this time “with more feeling”.


  2. I agree, the purveyors are much worse. Individually these lowlife losers can’t do too much harm. As organized “entertainment” they’re corrupting all of us.

  3. I suspect if she was completely transparent about her main agenda, that there would still be people out there who’d oblige…and she’d have a shade more integrity left.

  4. Unethical but proportional response:

    1) Take the girl out to dinner at an extremely expensive restaurant.

    2) Eat a lot.

    3) Request Check.

    4) Excuse self to the restroom.

    5) Depart the premises.

  5. Quiz answer: The TV executives are more unethical, because they are exploiting, or seeking to exploit, more people than the girl is exploiting (plus, they are exploiting the girl).

    I have this aching in my gut that what this girl is doing is creating a whole new class of targets for the so-called knockout game: Find a pretty girl (a “knockout”) in some everyday scene on the street, assume she’s a tease and an exploiter like this girl, and suddenly clobber her. I mean, that’s the world we are living in right now. There’s no beauty that a little violence can’t fix.

    Opinion only, as an aside (in the couldn’t-help-noticing department): Tom DeLay is a much better name than Kim Kardashian, for a porn star.

  6. The woman is a malignant narcissist. I have no doubt that this grifter will find plenty of suckers to take the bait and she will feel absolutely no guilt about her behavior. She might get cold cocked though when somebody figures out quickly what’s goin’ on. The smarmy TV executives would be wise to drop this idea as if anything happens to her, I smell a big lawsuit.

  7. The TV guys get some cheap viewership from the bottom rung of the audience and Little Miss Moocher gets some more ill-gotten gains as a result. It’s pretty sorry all around. As Wayne says, though, this woman’s self-obsession will eventually prove her own downfall. The producers know it, too. When her come-uppance comes, they’ll be there to film it and then drop HER like a hot potato. Eventually, she’ll wind up peddling herself on some wharfside and the executives will move on to some other tick on the rear end of society to glorify.

  8. I’m inclined to think she is the more unethical one- number one, the TV guys are more open about what they are doing, whereas her unethical act is also deceptive. Number two, the TV guys do have a duty to create profit and business success for their networks, so they have some justification to hide behind, whereas her act is entirely selfish.

    Then I read some of her blog posts and have determined she may be too dumb to understand the concept of ethics. Pro tip: Mocking the music in restaurants does not make you look smart when you are complaining about “Marchacha” (Mariachi?) and “Ukelaly” (Ukelele).

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