Streaming Ethics Reflections

There is a lot of fodder for ethics analysis, consideration, enlightenment and confusion out there on the streaming platforms. For example,

  • “Ozark” has returned for it’s 4th season and presumably its last, with a half-season with a cliff-hanger. The sordid tale about an accountant (Jason Bateman) who runs for his life to the Ozarks as an involuntary  money-launderer for a drug cartel, in the process corrupting his easily corrupted wife (Laua Linney, who learns fast) and his previously innocent children, who make the Soprano kids seem like naifs, could be used to illustrate so many rationalizations, it’s mind-boggling. One persistent theme is the Ruddigore Fallacy, as the Byrds (not the rock band) constantly plan to do enough good through various schemes to make up for all the crimes they have committed and the people they’ve gotten killed.

Another persistent theme is perhaps the most perplexing and abused of the ethical values, loyalty.

  • I had to force myself to finish The Comey Rule,” a Showtime feature that told audiences that the FBI’s pursuit of President Donald Trump as part of the Democratic party’s effort to remove him without the inconvenience of an election was as noble as the Watergate investigation and as pure as the driven snow. The movie, like one of the very few films I ever walked out of in protest, “JFK,” represented proven lies as fact, and was intended to sway the 2020 election. Writer/director Billy Ray, clearly a devotee of Facts Don’t Matter, was heartbroken when ShowTime declined to air his “it isn’t what it is” propaganda before the polls opened. He wrote his cast,

I know what a disappointment this is to you. It is for me too – because while I’ve made movies about my country before, this was the first time I ever made a movie for my country. We all were hoping to get this story in front of the American people months before the coming election. And that was a reasonable expectation considering that we’d been given a mandate by the network to do whatever was necessary to deliver by May 15.

Yes, the Trump years will stand for the proposition that deceiving the public about its leader is good for the country. You will not be surprised to learn that Ray is now making a film about the January 6, 2021 riot, called “J6.”

You should also not be surprised to learn that Adam McKay, who inflicted the ham-handed climate change satire “Don’t Look Up” on us, will assist him.

It’s no masterpiece, but in creating a Hollywood culture that never existed (and at the time, couldn’t have existed) the show forces ethical reflection, and it is entertainingly acted throughout.

  • “The River Murders” (2011) is a bad movie, so I’m going to spoil it for you in order to ask a question that has bothered me since I finished the stupid, gross, incoherent thing. A homicide detective (Ray Liotta) finds himself a suspect in a series of murders of women he has had sexual relations with. The serial killer’s signature is placing the victim’s wedding rings in their wombs after raping and killing them.

The detective is asked to make a list of all the women he has had sex with, which he estimates at a hundred or more: he likes one-night stands, though now he is married and his wife, he discovers late in the film, is pregnant. We also learn that his first sexual conquest was a 16-year-old girl when he was 18, and he pressured her into getting an abortion when she became pregnant.

I figured out the “twist” well before the climax: the serial killer is the unaborted son Liotta sent his mother off to abort. Growing up fatherless, with a disturbed single mother, the killer studied religion and then became an anti-abortion fanatic. His aim is to punish the father who created and rejected him, and also those women whose sexual habits mirrored his view of his mother’s. With each killing, the murderer leaves an Old Testament passage that he feels justifies his vendetta.

Eventually the murderer kills Liotta’s mother and kidnaps his wife, only to spare her when he discovers that she is pregnant. He won’t kill an unborn child. (Liotta shoots his newly discovered son dead without blinking an eye.)

Now the question: Is “The River Murders” a pro-abortion statement, or an anti-abortion statement?

  • I know: I haven’t set up the Zoom meeting to discuss “Clickbait.” Sorry. It will happen.

5 thoughts on “Streaming Ethics Reflections

  1. “The River Murders” is probably pro-abortion, because the overarching idea is, if they would’ve gotten that abortion, none of this would ever have happened. I think it would be too clever by half, if it was an anti-abortion stance, in the sense that Liotta’s character lifestyle was degenerate and can lead to misery, as the bastard son’s life was, and the misery the son caused, because Liotta abandoned him. I don’t believe a schlocky movie like this would be this nuanced. Quite the horrid serial killer signature I must say. Also, I guess Liotta isn’t what he used to be, if he has to work with such material.

  2. As a holder of anti-abortion views, I thought that the film’s pro-abortion messages were:
    1. The world would have been better had the killer been aborted.
    2. Anti-abortion people are crazy and dangerous.
    Someone on the pro-abortion side might see an anti-abortion message in the film. I find that many films are more mirror than window, reflecting the expectations of the viewer. I expected a pro-abortion message and saw one.

    • I’m in agreement with your two points. However, while I do agree that some anti-abortion watchers may see an anti-abortion message in it, I think whatever message is there was slipped in by design for plausible deniability. Just like “Don’t Look Up” showed Meryl Streep’s idiot President in a photo with Bill Clinton to make people think she was a Democrat despite the fact that 1. She was clearly based on Trump and 2, There are also photos of Trump with the Clintons.

      I had to convince my husband that the photograph didn’t matter. This wasn’t a balanced view at all. He later agreed with me.

  3. Sounds pretty pro-abortion to me. The underlying thought is that this all could have been headed off with one abortion. It generally sounds like a pretty disgusting story.

    As I’ve said, I enjoy writing and reading alternative history, which I think fits better on the small screen than the big screen, but I’d rather explore what would have happened if Robert E. Lee accepted the field command of the Union army (most likely the war would have been over in 2 years), or what if Hitler had lived to face trial at Nuremberg (the world would have seen a case study in the banality of evil)? I am not interested in getting beaten about the face and chest with out and out lies that make Michael Moore’s campaign propaganda look like a documentary. Next up, “Phantom Towers,” which shows conclusively how 9/11 was an inside job, “Fires of Hell,” which tells how the dropping of the atomic bombs was all about racism, “Created Unequal,” which shows how the writing of the Constitution was all about keeping slavery in place, and “The Day the Fifth Sun Ended,” which shines the light on Columbus’ many sins against the Indians. Someone proposed “Gray Strangers” about how the Normans pushed the Arabs out of Sicily and southern Italy and positioned to move on to the Holy Land, “Reconquest,” which would have told the story of the retaking of Seville and Cordoba, with the now somewhat older Antonio Banderas in the role of Ferdinand the Saint, and “His Excellency” about Washington turning down the chance to be a king and later preparing to take up arms for the last time in the Whiskey Rebellion, but those were all turned down as nonsense. Still working on “Breaths” a biopic of George Floyd. ,

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