A “Welcome June!” Ethics Warm-Up

That song, of course—I hope “of course”—is from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Carousel.” We should recognize that unless we can turn back the cultural clock from half-past sanity, this show, and pretty much all of the R & H musicals, are doomed to political incorrectness hell. That’s far too high a price to pay for woke grandstanding, but The Great Stupid is powerful in the arts, and the kinds of destructive uprising in theater departments that we discussed over the long weekend here and here (in Rick Jones’ excellent guest post) are going to be difficult to put down, especially if the leaders in the artistic community continue to reveal the backbones of annelid worms. “The King and I” is impossible to produce if the the entire cast has to be Asian, and “yellowface” is now considered racist. “Carousel” is a period piece set in an all-white New England fishing town, making the sudden injections of African Americans into the cast for “diversity’s” sake jarring; besides, the the hero is a domestic abuser. “South Pacific” has too many woke violations to count. Can black and Asian characters be shoehorned into 1930’s Austria as the Nazis take over? As a director, I wouldn’t do it, and that show is already imperiled by the fact that the stage version is so inferior to the film. Maybe “Oklahoma!” can be finessed. I have my doubts.

1. Ethics documentary tip...If you have not seen the documentary “Five Came Back,” I recommend that you do. It’s on Netflix, and tells the under-reported story of how five of Hollywood’s most celebrated directors risked their lives, health and careers to volunteer to make films supporting and documenting the war effort during World War Two. All of the five—John Ford, George Stevens, Frank Capra, John Huston and William Wyler—were harmed physically, mentally or emotionally by the experience. They also produced some remarkable film, including some that were deemed too intense by the military and suppressed for decades. I did not realize, for example, that Stevens directed the horrific Dachau death camp footage that was finally shown to the public in “Judgement at Nuremberg, nearly 20 years after the war.

2. Speaking of Netflix…I gave in and started watching “The Kominski Method,” Michael Douglas’s streaming sitcom about an aging acting coach coming to grips with old age and mortality. It’s excellent. A running gag is younger people not getting his popular culture references. I’m not sure who the show is mocking here: the twenty/thirty-somethings who don’t know the history of their own profession, or the out-of-touch geezers who assume their references to the past are apt. You know my position by now: cultural literacy requires keeping up with both the present and the past, and society is strengthened the more the generations can maintain common touchpoints. Three references that the show used to illustrate generational gaps in common experience were Walter Brennan, Jimmy Durante, and Andy Devine. Of those three, I’d say Andy Devine is in the triva category: I wouldn’t refer to him in a seminar and expect anyone under 50 to know who he is. Walter Brennan was an important actor who appeared in many classics (he also hold the record for Supporting Actor Oscars). Someone who is literate about film should know who he is, but I can’t see any crippling disadvantage from not recognizing his name. I’m biased, but I’d put Jimmy Durante in the category of someone who had sufficient cultural influence and presence over a sufficiently long period that his name and image should resonate even with rising generations.

Here is one of my favorite , if uncharacteristic, late career performances by “The Schnozz”:

3. Unethical Headline Of The Day. The New York Times print edition of its Science Section has this: “Limiting Access To Abortions Won’t End Them.” What’s that supposed to mean? Because some women won’t stop killing unborn babies at will and without limits, we shouldn’t try to address the problem? Prohibiting robbery and murder doesn’t stop those acts either: point? Laws, regulations and rules shouldn’t exist if they are not 100% effective?

Yesterday’s “winner”, which I no longer can find: “Republicans Believe Unemployment Should Hurt.” The monsters!

4. Ugh. Out of time and alligators nipping at my heels. This has been happening too much lately. I have a lot more items. Later…

19 thoughts on “A “Welcome June!” Ethics Warm-Up

  1. 1. The book of the same name by Mark Harris has a lot more detail than the documentary and is also very good.
    2. Newer generations know Jimmy Durante as the singing host of the animated Christmas classic, “Frosty the Snowman”. The song gets a lot of replay on the radio during the Christmas season, too. I doubt anyone who heard Andy Devine speak would ever forget him.

  2. Republicans Believe Unemployment Should Hurt.

    I believe that unemployment shouldn’t hurt, in much the same way that children shouldn’t suffer for their parents’ choices, or that nobody should have to die of cancer.

    Because the fact is unemployment does hurt, and pretending otherwise doesn’t make the problem go away. The question is who should bear the burden of it. If the unemployed don’t suffer more from it than those who remain employed, what incentive would anyone have to be employed?

      • The anti-capitalist left wants everyone to have a guaranteed minimum level of income so no one HAS to work. It’s a firmly held belief by very determined Commie revolutionaries who want to destroy American capitalism. The government, run by the elite, mostly in Brooklyn, will hand out endless amounts of largesse as they see fit once all enterprise has been wrest away from the proletariat’s overlords. This outlook informs the Democratic party’s, and Ron Klain’s orientation.

  3. 3. And now for something completely different: Hilariously incompetent headline in The Daily Mail–

    “Nashville hat store owner apologizes for selling ‘Not Vaccinated’ patches modeled on Star of David badges Nazis forced Jews to wear after Stetson pulled their business”

    So THAT’S what pissed off the NAZIs and lead to the murder of millions of Jews!

  4. I don’t think unemployment should hurt – in any active sense.

    But I definitely don’t think it should be rewarded.

    Unemployment should receive precisely what the market gives it. If that creates passive discomfort…then ok. Individuals can make their choices based on their priorities.

  5. I too am a late comer to The Kominsky Method. The scene in the grocery store with Alan Arkin trying to check out! When Michael Douglas says, “We’ve outlived swiping,” I almost died laughing. I did get the Andy Devine joke, but I’m more a Devine fan than a Durante devotee.

    • Mrs. OB and I knew we were getting old when we outgrew the beer demographic, probably somewhere in our thirties.

  6. ‘Dachau death camp’ -hilarious. The ‘gas chamber’ was built after the war to tour US Congressmen around to because our allies the Soviets didn’t want to share. The Official Holocaust, ever changing, ever malleable, now only places ‘death camps’ in Poland. All the stories of gas chambers in Dachau and Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen and all the camps in Germany are now just war rumors and atrocity propaganda.

    • You’re banned, AJ. Bye.

      Holocaust denial crosses into the territory of deliberate misinformation and factual denial. There is so much available data to show your assertion is nonsense that you can’t reasonably claim ignorance, and if you’re THAT ignorant, you don’t belong here. My father liberated a German death camp: I regard him as an impeccable source.

      Get help. But you’ll have to get it somewhere other than here.

      • I am impressed that AJ got off 53 comments before revealing he was an anti-Semitic asshole.

        If he tries sneaking back on, as banned commenters so often do (it’s part of the package), please don’t respond.

  7. Yes, the Kominsky Method is by far the best piece of writing and tragic-comedic delivery. Your choice of Durante’s song is absolutely dead-on regarding the arch of the storyline. Bravo to Arkin, Douglas, and all involved in this award-worthy piece of entertainment.

    • The only thing that bothered me was how awful Kathleen Turner looks, apparently the result of her treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. Made me feel sad and old. Douglas and she co-stared in “The War of the Roses”: he looks like the same guy, she’s nearly unrecognizable….except her voice, of course. Christine Ebersole and Paul Reiser were runners up in the “Oh my god, is that who I think it is?” competition.

  8. Check out the cast list on IMDB. I’m going to have to go back and rewatch to try to spot all those people I didn’t ID the first time through.

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