The Sony Hacks, Hollywood Hypocrisy and The Full Pazuzu

Amy Pascal, apparently...

Amy Pascal, apparently…

You can’t make this stuff up. First North Korea apparently hacks Sony’s emails to punish it for producing a Seth Rogen comedy,—which, by the way, would justify a national response if the current leadership didn’t object to necessary retaliation on principle: this is a foreign attack on American soil, just not a fatal one—-then the revealed e-mails showing  enthusiastic Obama supporters Amy Pascal, Sony Pictures co-chair, and movie producer Scott Rudin making racist jokes worthy of  the readers of Chimpmania.

Of course, Buzzfeed shouldn’t have published hacked e-mails—private is private— but it couldn’t resist. Let’s see: Buzzfeed, Pascal, Rudin, North Korea…let’s throw in our government being unwilling to stand up against vile foreign governments cyber-attacking citizens and businesses: yes, I’d say this qualifies as an Ethics Train Wreck.

Here was the email exchange between Pascal and “The Social Network” producer Scott Rudin, when Pascal sought his advice on what she should say to the President at an upcoming Hollywood fundraiser:

Rudin: Would he like to finance some movies [?]

Pascal: I doubt it. Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?” [ The violent Tarentino “Escaped-slave-kills-white-guys” Western mash-up revenge epic ]

Rudin: 12 YEARS [A Slave]”

Pascal: “Or the butler [“Lee Daniels’ The Butler”]. Or think like a man?” [ Steve Harvey comedy “Think Like A Man”]

Rudin: Ride-along. [“Ride Along,” a failed cop buddy movie-action flick starring a mostly black cast] I bet he likes Kevin Hart.

Let me focus for the nonce, however, on the absurd and self-indicting apology by uber-hypocrite Amy Pascal, who said:

“The content of my emails were insensitive and inappropriate but are not an accurate reflection of who I am, although this was a private communication that was stolen, I accept full responsibility for what I wrote and apologize to everyone who was offended.”

This is what I will henceforth call “the Full Pazuzu,” honoring the demon that made poor Linda Blair’s head spin around in “The Exorcist.” If that wasn’t you, Amy, that wrote those things that racially denigrated the President, who was it? The maxim is that the real test of out character is what we do and say when nobody (but Scott Rudin, I guess) is watching.

Later, she told an interviewer:

“I don’t know Barack Obama. I worked really hard for him in both of his campaigns. I am inspired by him. I…I’m embarrassed, deeply.”

Inspired by him, and certain to join her fellow progressives in accusing his critics of being motivated by racism while she privately makes “Django” jokes.

As I wrote at the beginning of the Donald Sterling episode:

“Vile biases are our personal burdens; if we can’t banish or eliminate them, we are ethically obligated to make certain that they stay in our skulls, safe and harmless, because even the revelation that they exist causes harm to others. In law, keeping a dangerous animal on your property creates strict liability: if it gets loose, no matter how, you are liable for the harm it causes to others. Racist thoughts are like that too.”

Now let’s wait and see proof that no double standard exists, and that Hollywood moguls—female, progressive— caught making remarks like this are rejected as completely as an elderly, rich, white, male NBA team owner, who was forced by his industry to resign in disgrace. He was taped and betrayed, she was hacked: it’s a fair comparison.

How much time do you have?


Sources: Deadline Hollywood, Mediaite 1; Variety 1, 2




37 thoughts on “The Sony Hacks, Hollywood Hypocrisy and The Full Pazuzu

    • Money and influence aren’t the deciding factor. They’re Liberals! Liberals can’t be racist! She worked on Obama’s campaign don’t you know! She’s got some black friends! She works in Hollywood! All these ‘oopsies’ aren’t indicative of racism. Pazuzu made them do it. That’s where they got all the green gunk for Nickelodeon flicks!

      • All this reveals is that leading media/Hollywood types are jackasses. But we’ve known that for 100 years.

        I imagine there will be zero to no mention of the political leanings of these people and more or less the reliance on referring to them as “big business execs” and “leading CEOs” just to tuck the asshole-ism to a favored and false Leftist meme – that if it is big business it must be Republican.

        That’s all the sheeple need to hear to know evil right wing businessmen are racists towards the president.

  1. There was a nastiness to Sterling’s rant, not just what he said but how he said it, that is absent here. Referencing that a black president might like certain movies is racist and stupid, not to mention un-funny, but not as bad as what Sterling said.

    That being said, if these two were GOP donors it would be Abu Gharib all over again in terms of media coverage.

  2. Dick Armey is lucky he made his little slip of the tongue with regard to Barney Frank when he did, if he did it now they’d be calling for him to be put to death by drowning in pink slime.

      • Can’t and won’t speak for Steve. I have absolutely nothing against gay people, and support their rights as citizens and people. It’s Barney Frank I can’t stand. Arrogant, hypocritical, self-serving, smug, egotistical narcissist. .

        • I’m sure you can justify your choice of adjectives, Dragin. Neither Steve nor the person whose hate speech he so admires can justify the use of the slur.

          • “Hate speech” is just a epithet leftist hurl at those who disagree with their cherished dogma, Penn. Whatever you want to believe. Now- who is this “person” that I supposedly admire and is my inspiration, hmmmm? I’d really like to know!

            • Penn was actually referring to Steve-O-In-NJ. Still, that’s a good question. I’m only vaguely familiar with Dick Armey, and I have no idea what he said about Barney.

              • I don’t know what Dick Armey said about Barney Frank, Dragon, but I’m sure it was uncomplimentary. His “personal affliction” aside, Frank was one of the most nauseating, lying and corrupt congressmen of our time.

              • Dragin, if you have any remaining interest in this bit of a sidebar (which I do not — I was just pointing out that Steve-O had exhibitied an ethics violation Jack had just finished describing, for the second time, as a “vile bias”), just search “Armey on Barney Frank” and the subject word will come up instantly without your even having to open any of the listed websites. I’m sure you will recognize it without any trouble.

                I’m sorry to say that nothing SMP has to say ever makes sense to me, so I cannot help you answer whatever question is being referenced.

            • It’s the boy who cries wolf problem. Some things identified as hate speech ARE hate speech. The Left has a penchant to call EVERYTHING they disagree with hate speech. This dilutes and calls into question all the actual items of hate speech that are called out…such as “Barney Fag”…

              • [texagg04] Well defined, sir. I have not used the term “hate speech” before. I actually considered several synonymous phrases to fit the case — without relation to who uses them or how much (it would be absurdly limiting to vocabulary to do so). I chose that one for its appropriateness in differentiating the gratuitous … smack talk … from any legitimate derogation due to the ex-Congressman.

  3. I think it is starting to pick up steam:

    “Calling Sony comments “racially insensitive remarks” instead of “racist”? U can put a cherry on a pile of sh*t but it don’t make it a sundae.”- Shonda Rhimes

    The problem is that this is within a flood of potentially embarrassing and/or damaging emails that were leaked. I think the media is having a hard time focusing on which things to go after first.

  4. Very strange. I just happened to watch a movie called “Swimming with Sharks” in which Kevin Spacey played a narcissistic and pretty disgusting character which has been said to be modeled after Rudin.

    It seems to me that if Pascal were truly embarrassed (as she said) about her comments regarding the President then she should make a personal apology to him and let it go at that. However, instead of making an attempt to apologize to this person, Pascal has shown her true colors by taking the step of “reaching out” to Al Sharpton to “pray and heal” or whatever it is that happens in these negotiations so that Al Sharpton can then publicly declare that Pascal is a friend and supporter of black people.
    But then Pascal still has Angelina Jolie to worry about…

  5. I hate to say it, but those weren’t racist jokes. I’d love for it to be a gotcha moment for the idiots Dems of the world but nothing about those jokes implies racism except by the standard that those same idiot Dems use. It’s hypocrisy more than racial denigration.

    • Well, the tone was jokey, no? They were in fact neither clever, novel or funny, but if not posted for amusement, why? (Presuming someone is drawn only to slavery themed and black cast movies isn’t suggesting a racist stereotype? I’m bald—if they said, “Well, maybe he’d go for some YUL BRENNER MOVIES!!! Telly Savalas??? Bruce Willis???” what would you call those?

      • The tone was jokey. I’m not saying they werent jokes only that they werent racist jokes. They were jokes involving race but thats not the same thing as racism.

        Stereotypes and jokes about them arent inherently racist (or follicle-ist). Observations about general-trend-over-time (forever more refereed to as GTOT – I’m tired of typing it) behavior of a group of people are only racist if they are being used to say, explicitly or otherwise, that that group is inferior because of their race.

        Broad strokes characterization may be offensive – since it reduces the individuality of each person in that group and since we as Americans place a great deal of value on the individuality – but ‘offensive’ does not equal ‘racism’. Even then, the justifiability of that offense decreases the more true the observation is at the group level and the more true the observation is at the individual level.

        The stereotype being joked about here is tribalism – i.e. behaviors and attitudes that stem from strong loyalty to ones group. On the group level, for better or worse African American culture and the people who identify with it (who are not all racially black), have shown a clear tendency towards just this kind of group preference. I dont need to, and probably couldn’t, list all the ethics train wrecks that have been caused by or exacerbated by this attitude.

        On the individual level, Obama has shown time and time again his willingness to take part in (and encourage) the AA community’s tribalism. Indeed his success and the success of the larger Democratic party is dependent on it. Again, these are all things we’ve discussed before on Ethic’s Alarms – many times – so exhaustive cataloging of supporting examples shouldn’t be necessary.

        The only way this is racist is by using the ultra-aggro feel-think of the popular liberal mindset. Where anything offensive to a victimized group is inherently wrong, regardless of actual right or wrong, and anything that involves race and offense is sine non-quota racism, regardless of any actual implication of race-based inferiority or superiority. Hence my substituted claim of hypocrisy. The Dems in question failed to live up to their own ridiculous standard – the same one they use on a regular basis to tar the lives and careers of anyone who doesn’t follow in fearful lock step.

        Were the jokes racist? No.
        Were the jokes denigrating? No.
        Were the jokes offensive? Certainly, but I’d say that the offense isnt justifiable.
        Were the jokes hypocritical and indicative of an acute malignant ethics infection in the individuals and the ideology they represent? Undoubtedly.


        Two meta notes: I’m leery of using the word tribal here because some people will attach a secondary connotation of savage/uncivilized to it, and a tertiary connotation of racism. Those people are fools and I don’t let my word choice be dictated by the third order euphemistic abstractions of idiots and ideologues. Also, I know that the more negative descriptors you throw in front of something the more ranting/conspiracy-fueled the argument feels. I normally avoid it for this reason but my mood today is one that leans towards linguistic flourishes, and if I’ve indulged a couple times you’ll have to forgive me.

        • I appreciate your analysis, but you have to call the jokes, if they are jokes, racist. Why are they jokes? They are jokes because they are “naughty” and politically incorrect: Obama is black, so he obviously will only want to invest in movies about blacks and slavery.(“Aren’t we terrible for saying that? SHHHHH! “) If someone said that because I was white, I probably have “Birth of a Nation” and the complete Lawrence Welk years in my collection, what would call that? It’s denigration by stereotyping. That’s what it is. That’s racist. That’s what those Sony jokes were.

          • I think you’re being too loose with your definition of racism. From my perspective it looks like you’re saying this:

            Step 1. Race based GTOT observation
            Step 2. ?
            Step 3. Racism

            What goes on in step 2 that translates an otherwise reasonable observation, e.g. tribalism, into racism? I dont see it unless we’re using different definitions of racism. Mine is: anything that argue for the superiority OR inferiority of a group of people based on their race. For example, saying white people are better because they are white = racism (argument for superiority), or saying that black people deserve specialized economic incentives because they are black = racism (argument for inferiority). Saying that the president prefers black films because hes black /= racism (argument for… something that has nothing to do with inferiority/superiority).

            To answer the question, I’d call the hypothetical white version an offensive race based joke that is not also racist. I uh… I didnt know what cultural references you were using until I googled them.

              • It’s not presumed, in this case it’s substantiated and the complimentary or uncomplimentary nature has nothing to do with it.

                IF it’s racist to say that black people and/or the black community have the tendency towards tribalism (negative) its equally racist to say that they have a tendency to make better sprinters (positive). But it not racist to say either of those things and they are both well substantiated observations – the first here and the second in medical and athletic literature.

                Obama has shown a penchant for tribalism and observations of race based (or ethnic culture based) differences arent racist in and of themselves – we have differences and the morality of those differences is in what you choose to do with them once you recognize their existence (e.g. claim superiority) NOT in the positive/negative nature of the differences themselves.

                • They are racist jokes. They are based on a premise (in this case a suppressed premise) that a black man will automatically prefer movies with dominant black characters or black subjects on the basis that he is a black man. That premise – which, abstracted, is “this person will automatically behave a certain way because of an inborn characteristic (race, in this case)” – is racist.

                  It may be subtle and unfunny in the end. Which is why it is a terrible joke, but a joke nonetheless. The premise, even though manifest in the most benign form, is still racist.

                  For these jokes I usually say “so? who cares, some racist jokes ARE funny, and that’s fine. They are jokes.”

                  • The assumed premise is one based on trends. Trends do exist in race and/or ethnic based cultures. In this case the implied trend for both the group and the individual in question is true. What about the joke is being used to imply the inferiority or superiority of the racial group in question?

                    Unless your definition of racism includes unflattering but otherwise factual observations about a given group I dont see how it is. The humor is in trespassing against our societies racial sensitivities – which often get triggered long before any actual racism has occurred – not in trespassing against the actual taboo of racism.

                    • Huh?

                      Racism doesn’t require the assignment of superiority or inferiority to someone based on race. Racism requires the attribution of conduct (any conduct- superior, inferior, or neutral) to someone simply because of their race.

                      Even if the conduct is a statistically supported trend, it attributes what is an independent choice to an uncontrollable urge because the man is black. That is racism. Albeit very very very mild. It doesn’t have to harm to be racist.

                      As for stereotypes:

                      Stereotypes are actually VERY VERY useful. They allow us to make snap decisions in a life already cluttered with too many time demands. They are however ONLY useful as long as two (or more) conditions are met:

                      1) They are updated periodically for accuracy. The stereotype that black people like “soul” food may have been accurate until recently. But in the mid 1800s? The “soul” food stereotype would have been more accurately tied to poor whites. A hundred years before that? More accurately tied to the Scottish immigrants to the south.

                      2) The stereotype is not used to make decisions that could harm another person.

                      If I really like talking *with* someone knowledgeable about Country Music and love having conversations about it, and I walk into a room of 10 white people and 10 black people, I’m going to head to a white person to increase the odds of being able to talk in depth about country music. Vice versa with hip hop. Blunt but true.

                  • Ran out of space.

                    Everything after “As for stereotypes” I’m on board with. Before that, I stand by the necessary inclusion of a superiority/inferiority element in anything that’s being called racist. As a counter example: I offer Jim Crowe laws. They were undoubtedly racist while at the same time having nothing to do with attributed characteristics based on race. The laws didn’t imply uniform attributes shared by black people (though it did mandate uniform behavior based on race), but the separation of black and white did imply a fundamental inequality and in practical execution almost always meant they got the short end of the stick. The racism of Jim Crowe was about inferiority not racial stereotypes.

                    I would add the while I agree with your points on stereotypes – that they can be a useful shorthand – your example would seem to qualify as racism under your definition. The gist of which is “They’re black so they’re probably into hip-hop” and is clearly an attribution of characteristics based on race. Your thoughts? From my perspective it looks like a reasonable and non-racist assumption. From your definition it looks like a case of benign or mild racism.

  6. I certainly agree that viewing someone as inherently inferior or inherently superior because of a race is racist, but I don’t think it is the exclusive definition. I think it falls neatly into my view of it as well, just my view may need a little rewording to make that clear. But in the end, I think on meditation you’ll see that ascribing inferiority/superiority to a person based on race ultimately is just a version of attributing assumed involuntary conduct on a person because of their race…

    Jim Crowe was discriminatory (with the discriminator being race) because those who enacted it held racist views and wanted to separate the “inferior” from the “superior”…

    And yes, in my “stereotyping guidelines”, #2 is probably a very mild form of racism, but it inflicts ZERO HARM, so who cares? The hypothetical person made a decision based on race. But I’m not fully convinced because I see a very very very thin line, which demands personal integrity and attentiveness not to cross. There is, I think, a difference between looking at a group of 10 whites and 10 blacks and thinking “Odds are more likely that I’ll find a White guy to talk Country Music with than a Black guy” and thinking “Black people can’t talk Country Music because they are black, so I’m going to the white guys”.

    And I can understand you wanting “inferiority/superiority” or the infliction of harm as being exclusive components of the definition of racism, but I think that cuts out entirely useful discussions.

    • I see what your saying – that racism involving views on superiority or inferiority are the result of attributing negative or positive characteristics to race and then evaluating the “worth” of the racial group based on those ascribed characteristics.

      I agree that that’s probably the driving thought process. I disagree at where the racism begins. For you the racism seems to be in ascribing the characteristics in the first place. For me it’s in what’s done with those characteristics (using them to argue inferiority or superiority). The classic tools vs user argument – you might be familiar with it’s use in the context of pro-2A arguments, but well apply it here too.

      Lets assume that racism is ethically wrong and that racial groups (or race based cultures) do share meaningful trends/commonalities – for example a tendency to prefer certain musical styles. In this assumption the existence of these trends is a fact. Now… can a moral status be attached to facts? Of course not. Facts simply are; facts cannot be ethical or unethical in and of themselves: 2+2=4 is not unethical, the height of a mountain is not unethical, and likewise the existence of a trend in a population is not unethical.

      If you believe in a trend, and the trend is true, then congratulations you believe in a fact and have not committed any ethical wrong. Therefore, simply believing that the members of a given racial group/culture have common characteristics cannot be ethically wrong in and of itself, and if it’s not ethically wrong then it cannot also be racist (since racist things are also unethical things). The racism then MUST come from the use of those facts/tools and not merely in the belief of their existence.

      If you’re in the mood for some country music talk and believe that American black youth tend to prefer Hip Hop to Country (an attribution of characteristics based on race) and you choose to talk to the group of white guys instead of the group of black guys – is that unethical? Any sane person can see that the answer is a resounding no. No one is hurt, no one is denied opportunities that they otherwise had a right to, no one is denigrated.

      In this case, either the attribution of characteristics based on race isn’t racist (since it’s a fact and what you did with the fact wasn’t conceivably unethical) OR racism isn’t always unethical.

      I’ve got more to write, but I’ve already been too verbose. I’ll just add that the Jim Crowe example was meant to illustrate the separation between the definitions – i.e. it had nothing to do with ascribed characteristics and everything to do with superiority/inferiority. And as for cutting out discussion, I see it as the exact opposite – check out the controversy surrounding the 2009-2014 OK Cupid data and the related controversy surrounding Satoshi Kanazawa (to say nothing of the many people we’ve seen here on Ethics Alarms, that have been damaged by an overly loose application of racism).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.