TV Viewing Ethics Revelations

“Once Upon A Time..” also features a glorious pit bull.

I watch too much TV, and have all my life. Or maybe not too much. Sometimes I think everybody else watchs too little, reality shows excepted. Three shows I watched this week made me a little bit wiser…

“The Clinton Affair”

What this new, and generally excellent review of the Monica Lewinsky mess teaches us is that the Republicans were looking for ways to justify getting rid of Clinton, though less intensely and openly as today’s Democrats have hunted Donald Trump. The main differences: the news media, which was mostly supportive of  Clinton throughout, with a few notable exception, like Chris Matthews; and, as Jonathan Turley correctly stated in his testimony, Clinton unequivocally committed crimes, not just by lying in court in the Paula Jones hearing, but by lying under oath in a deposition in which he swore under oath, that he could not recall ever being “alone” with Monica.

Monica is prominent in the documentary (boy, she is beautiful) and is allowed to appeal to the sympathies of the viewer. Indeed, she was vilified excessively: clips of a younger but no less smug and revolting Bill Maher arguing, with many guests in agreement, that she, not Bill, was the real villain. This was nauseating then, and nauseating still. At the same time, there are limits to how much sympathy one can direct toward Lewinsky, who made a choice that was both unethical and stupid. How could she imagine such a situation would ever turn out anything but disastrously? She keeps telling us how humiliated she was, as if she didn’t deserve to be humiliated.

“John Adams”

I watched this seven part HBO series for the first time since it premiered. I’d love to know how many public school students are shown the series in class, or at all. It is an superb civics lesson, despite some historical liberties. Come to think or it, I wonder if any of the “Squad” has seen it; or any of the Parkland anti-gun shills, or, for that matter, President Trump. The series vividly shows what a miracle the creation of the United States was, the ethical values that formed its philosophical foundation, and the brilliance of the Founders that by the sheerest moral luck, the infant nation, happened to be in the right place at the right time, over and over again.

Now, 240 years later, lesser patriots with inferior minds think it is wise to undo their unique and fortunate creation.

“Once Upon A Time in Hollywood”

In his “Inglorious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino gave us an immensely satisfying alternate history in which Adolph Hitler and his henchmen met a horrible end with the assistance of a Jewish special ops squad.  Now, in “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, he does the same [SPOILER ALERT] to the Manson Family members who slaughtered Sharon Tate, her unborn child, and the other human beings at Roman Polanski’s Beverley Hills mansion.

It would be difficult to kill anyone on screen any more cruelly or violently than the deaths Tarantino devises for the Family members. Yet it is all immensely satisfying. I felt no pity or horror, just an overwhelming feeling  of wonder at being so entertained by bloodsport.

I didn’t even feel guilty about it.

25 thoughts on “TV Viewing Ethics Revelations

  1. Thanks or reminding us about John Adams. I’d forgotten there was a TV series (possibly wasn’t subscribing to HBO at the time), though I’ve read the book (not too kind to Jefferson, though maybe he deserved it). Will watch it now.

  2. I forgot one other revelation upon viewing “John Adams” again, except that I already knew it: how absurd it is for people to cite Hamilton’s writings as support for impeachment, protecting democracy, or the abuse of power. They really think the musical’s Hamilton is more than pure fantasy! The man was a monarchist; he didn’t trust the public, or elections, and was the farthest from a champion of democracy you could find among the Founders.

  3. Tarantino’s movies are really not my thing. I did like “Pulp Fiction” as you never knew where the movie was going and it really wasn’t that gory. I learned more about Charles Manson and the stupid young women that became part of his cult reading the books on him and seeing the TV movie about the Manson Family. Why would I want to watch Tarantino’s revenge porn?

    • Because it’s excellent revenge porn. That aside (it’s just the last 15 minutes or so), for a pop junkie like me, the film’s homages and cultural references are like MST3K. Old Western TV shows, Steve McQueen, Burt Reynolds, Hal Needham,”Lancer,” Spaghetti Westerns, Dean Martin, Mannix, Bruce Lee, Sam Wannamaker, hippies, all with the weird Tarantino mix of satire and reverence. If I made movies rather than directed plays, I’d make movies like this.

      • A “Mystery Science Theater 3000” reference…one more grain of sand in the ever-growing pile of why I love this place. My absolute favorite show of all time. I recorded nearly every episode, and very nearly referenced the couple of Christmas songs from the show in your Christmas songs lament threads.


        “John Adams” – I read McCullough’s book on Adams several years ago – before the TV series. When I saw the HBO ads, I ignored them. Why, I figured, would I watch something that just distorted reality to look like whatever message the producer/director wanted to convey? Television (and the movie screen) too often does that. I’m glad to hear otherwise. A co-worker has the series and I may try to borrow it.


  4. Watched Tarantino’s OUATIH on an trans-Pacific flight a few days ago. In fact, I was so impressed with the last 20 minutes of the film that I rewatched them. Only a Tarantino film could use such diverse props as a flame thrower and a can of dog food with such panache.

  5. “…as if she didn’t deserve to be humiliated.” (One of these days I’ll learn how to blockquote on WP.)

    I clearly remember ML arriving home to all the t.v. cameras and running across her front lawn to the warm embrace of her parents. I sat there thinking if I were her parents, I would not have hugged and comforted her. I would have pointed to the front door and told her to get her ass in the house.

  6. The John Adams book is by David McCullough? I’ll have to see if I have that one, or get it.

    The Revolutionary period is not my most favorite for reading about, but every time I do I am struck by how blessed our nation was with the people here who lead us to independence. The scales of Justice may be blind, but the scales of brains and political genius were definitely tilted towards the New World in that time period.

  7. Jack wrote:

    Now, 240 years later, lesser patriots with inferior minds think it is wise to undo their unique and fortunate creation.

    In Europe, charters of liberty have been granted by power. America has set the example and France has followed it, of charters of power granted by liberty. This revolution in the practice of the world may, with an honest praise, be pronounced the most triumphant epoch of its history and the most consoling presage of its happiness.

    — James Madison, 1792

    It is closer to the truth — in my view — to see that at various points along the way corruption entered into the political equation. In my view this is simply a given and it is a truth, a fact, that is exceedingly easy to see. A child can do it. Power does always what power must do: exert itself, extend itself. These are EXACTLY the things that the Founders feared as they meditated on the corruption of England.

    Now, 200 years and more later, the mechanisms through which power subverted the ‘liberty’ held in such high esteem, are dominant and visible. That is, the effects are visible, and they function like an acid that eats away at liberty’s attainments.

    Today, it is seen as highly improper to have a dissident attitude toward the perverse power-concentrations that dominate America. Yet it is not at all easy to access the critical positions that have been laboriously explained. Unfortunately for the so-called American Conservative — who has abandoned the ethical and moral ground and has no capacity for critical though similar to that of the founding generation — they have abandoned the field to the Left-Radical forces, and it is those forces and factions that define a dissident position.

    But the real responsibility should be for the conservative intellectuals to notice, and explain, and counter-propose against, those points in American history and policy where the wrong turns were taken, leading to a situation in which Power hides itself behind liberal forms — the patriot’s redoubt — while various forms of corrupt policy continue on.

    There should be, there should exist, a truly dissident conservative position that would grapple with the problem of abuse of power by power-concentrations.

    • Yet it is not at all easy to access the critical positions that have been laboriously explained.

      Sorry, should have said: Yet it is not at all hard to access the critical positions that have been laboriously explained

  8. I watched The Clinton Affair for a second time myself (featuring a cameo of an up-n-coming FoxNews reporter, the fetching Kellyanne Conway), with my lovely and long suffering wife correctly observing: “You really get into this stuff, don’t you?”

    And with a wealth of the experience of going too far for a laugh, I feel qualified to point out that behavior in others.

    To wit: The less-than-flattering Saturday Night Live skit with Jonathan Goodman as Linda Tripp.

      • I expect they based the line, in both show and play on this.

        The Committee then appointed Mr. Jefferson and me, to draw them up in form, and cloath them in a proper Dress. The Sub Committee met, and considered the Minutes, making such Observations on them as then occurred: when Mr. Jefferson desired me to take them to my Lodgings and make the Draught. This I declined and gave several reasons for declining. 1. That he was a Virginian and I a Massachusettensian. 2. that he was a southern Man and I a northern one. 3. That I had been so obnoxious for my early and constant Zeal in promoting the Measure, that any draught of mine, would undergo a more severe Scrutiny and Criticism in Congress, than one of his composition. 4thly and lastly and that would be reason enough if there were no other, I had a great Opinion of the Elegance of his pen and none at all of my own. I therefore insisted that no hesitation should be made on his part.

  9. What I watched last night was “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?”. It was really quite fantastic. A little quirky, but just generally satisfying. Perhaps a little shallow on the surface, but definitely worth viewing.

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