Ethics Quiz: “God Bless America”

To take this quiz, you have to go to Netflix and watch “God Bless America,” a 2011 black comedy, written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwaite,  that is a strange hybrid of “Network,” “Falling Down” and “Harold and Maude.” Unless, of course, yo9u have already seen it. (For a hint regarding its content and thrust, check the tags, as well as the clip above.)

And your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz question is...

Is this an ethical movie?

You might also want to read this related post, from The Ethics Scoreboard in 2004.


Or not…

8 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: “God Bless America”

  1. Dark comedies are the ultimate truth teller. It’s a shame that many people will not get the joke. Yes the movie is ethical. More importantly, based on what I saw in the clip, it is sorely needed.

  2. I am not as sure as Chris that it’s ethical. A movie that is presumably preaching against the exaltation of cruelty…by depicting so much cruelty? It’s touchy. I can not agree that all intentional irony is ethical.

  3. How else can we change on the cruelty of this ‘entertainment’ if we don’t define and give examples. This is why the ‘reality’/competition shows have always driven me batty. People talk more about how snarky a judge is or how deluded a singer or cook is, than the supposed competition. I’ve been calling it bread and circuses for years, and why the Hunger Games is more critical than most absorb.

  4. Jack,
    Jeez, I have been waiting since last Thursday to see your quiz answer. Which is it? Ethical, or unethical?

    Meanwhile, I watched the movie for the first time. My biggest beef is that Frank didn’t kill…I typed his name, but deleted it because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone else – but who I mean is, the guy Frank tried through an intermediary to implore to smell his (Frank’s) balls. Why would Frank choose not to kill that guy, of all guys, preferring instead that the guy…(I won’t say)?

    You nailed it though (thanks), describing the movie as “a strange hybrid of “Network,” “Falling Down” and “Harold and Maude.”” My earlier comment was based entirely on my impressions of the scene you posted.

    I am still undecided on whether the movie is ethical. Would a movie that re-enacts (or incorporates in its plot, or highlights as a documentary) the spree by the two guys who did all that fatal sniping in the D.C. area years ago, be ethical? With or without an expose’ on the actual snipers’ motives, character and beliefs? To me, a movie depicting people doing harm with a sly (humorous? I didn’t laugh) intention of inducing people to do less harm to one another smacks too much of destroying a village in order to save it.

    I like the Alice Cooper song at the end, though.

    • He didn’t kill “that guy” because that guy was essentially OK. Frank is out to kill the rude, bigoted, uncivil, crass, cruel and uncivilized in the US, not people he doesn’t like for other reasons, however valid.

      • But…what about the man in the theater, who was “recording?” What was he – rude? Cruel?? Unethical in some other way? What was not OK about him? The fact that he was using one of the more modern and prominent tools of the deserving-to-die, therefore no way was he a good citizen but rather, he was presumably only seeking his own publicity for “heroism?” (I know; I didn’t forget; that man was overheard lying right beforehand, as he used the same tool.)

        Frank did not act consistently enough with his…frame of mind, if I can call it that, to be believable, especially when face-to-face with “that guy.” That guy was precisely the kind of self-made eunuch, and enabler and perpetuator of cruelty, that Frank obviously refused to become for the satisfaction of “that woman;” Frank’s and her daughter reflected that dysfunction in the relationships between the mother and Frank (and between Frank and the daughter). Borrowing from what I believe Frank meant by one of his lines, that guy deserved to die for his wussy ways.

        Then there was the pushy guy in the next booth in the diner, who presumed all the wrong things about Frank and “his girl.” That man fit the mold, if anyone did, to incur a believable Frank’s wrath – Bang! Dead.

        Overall, the movie strained my ability to suspend disbelief. I expect even marginally competent police would have nabbed Frank that very first night in the hotel where he parked that yellow car – maybe even, shot him dead or induced Frank to end it all for himself, as cops tend to do to such suspects in such situations – and before Miss Wandering Priss tracked him down (or even, as she helped the cops to track him down). Leaving alone that element of unbelievability, a believable Frank would have killed her, too – either right before he found out the truth about her from watching TV (I would have LOVED that!), or maybe (less ironically), right after.

        Now I’m gonna have to watch it AGAIN!

        • Well, he was engaging in the rude public conduct of recording the conduct of others and posting it, rather than actually reacting like a human being. Or something. I think it’s hard to draw careful lines when you are on a homicidal rampage.

          I’m not sure you’re supposed to suspend disbelief in a satire, any more than one suspends disbelief in a cartoon. I assumed that the fact that Frank was driving around in a brilliant yellow car settled the issue that we were not supposed to worry about law enforcement catching him.

          • “[H]e was engaging in the rude public conduct of recording the conduct of others and posting it,..”

            WHAT?! The theater was a moral luck-free zone? So Recording Man was actually TAMPERING with evidence at a crime scene – and he was NOT helping (however incidentally and narcissistically) to preserve and corroborate such evidence?

            But I do generally accept your tentative point about suspending disbelief. I’m still going to watch it again – maybe more than once. It’ll never catch up with how many times I have watched “Network,” but I’ll probably watch “God Bless America” more times than I have watched, and will watch, “Falling Down.” (I can’t believe my son, in his late twenties, has not yet seen “Network.” A father-and-son Movie Night is now on the agenda. Ironically perhaps, he had already seen “GBA” when somehow, I had never heard of it – laughed when I mentioned it and said it was “great.”)

            This is a rare post for you – a quiz that you don’t give the answer for. I’m frustrated.

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