Believe It Or Not! The Incoherent Hollywood Casting Rules Get Even More Incoherent And Hypocritical In A “Lord Of The Rings” Controversy

To bring you up to date, The Great Stupid mated with the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion cult to bring forth the following casting rules for movies, theater, TV and commercials. Per Tom Hanks, only gays can play gay roles, but gay actors can play “cis” characters. It’s fine for Andy Garcia to play Sonny Corleone’s son in “Godfather 3,” but verboten for a non-Hispanic performer to play a Hispanic character. Presenting a real life “character of color” as white in a film is despicable whitewashing, but presenting Aaron Burr, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton as non-white in a hit Broadway musical is brilliant, and playing Joan of Arc as a nonbinary individual who goes by “they” is illuminating. Marilyn Monroe being played by a Hispanic actress is testimony to her versatility and range, but Natalie Wood playing Maria in “West Side Story” was a shameful relic of Hollywood racism. Changing the genders and races of popular comic book characters is social justice progress, unless they are changed to white or male.

All clear now?

The eagerly awaited Amazon spectacular “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” is being skewered on social media and fan sites because the production, led by a creative team that is ostentatiously woke (Brain-melting quote by Executive Producer Lindsey Weber: “It felt only natural to us that an adaptation of Tolkien’s work would reflect what the world actually looks like.”), has cast actors who do not resemble how Tolkien described their characters and has them doing things the characters in the books would never do. For example—The Horror!—there’s a black elf. “Rings” fanatics are screaming foul, so, naturally, Weber has called the casting critics racists.

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Ethics Quiz: The Return Of Sacheen Littlefeather

Apparently the Oscars are looking hard for virtue-signaling opportunities.

In this instance, they had to travel back in time 50 years and decide to make amends for one of the more ludicrous examples of celebrity grandstanding in pop culture lore. Marlon Brando, a cinch to win the Best Actor statuette for “The Godfather” in 1973, decided to snub the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences, his Hollywood colleagues and the Oscars’ TV audience by sending an obscure, Native American actress named Sacheen Littlefeather to go to the podium when Marlon’s name was read and make a statement about the abuse of Indians at Hollywood’s hands while announcing that Brando was rejecting his honor in protest. You know, because “The Godfather” was all about Native American mobs, or something.

It was a complete non sequitur, and many suspected that the whole stunt had little to do with Native American portrayals in film (about which Brando had previously said nothing) and more to do with the famously weird actor’s desire to stick his thumb in the eye of the industry that had made him rich and famous. He might have just as well had his statuette rejected by Bozo the Clown; maybe it came down to a coin flip: heads, Sasheen (it was an Indian Head nickel), tails, Bozo.

The young woman’s appearance did not go over well. “Mr. Brando very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award,” Littlefeather said. “And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee.”  That was a reference to a protest a month earlier,when the American Indian Movement had occupied the South Dakota town of Wounded Knee, site of the infamous massacre, to protest Hollywood’s killing wait, it was the U.S. government’s treatment of Native Americans that protest was about. What did it have to do with movies, Brando, and the Oscars?

Oh, nothing. Continue reading

Evening Ethics Edition, 8/15/2022: Where Else Can You Find Underground Cannibals, The ABA, “Leave It To Beaver” and Joan of Arc In The Same Post?

I decided it was time to finally see “C.H.U.D.,” the cult 1980s horror movie about mutant cannibals running around under Manhattan. What horrified me most was a conversation between the film’s hero, played by John Heard (he was Kevin’s father in the “Home Alone’ films) and his girl friend, When she announces that she is pregnant with his child, he asks, with all the emotion of someone asking if she plans on getting her nails done, “Well, do you want to keep it?” She replies, “Do you want me to?,” and he literally shrugs. “Hey, it’s up to you: your body and all. I have no say in the matter,” he says disinterestedly. She then says, “If I wanted to have it, would you be want to have it then?” And he lights up with a smile and says, “YES!” Then they embrace, because they are going to have a baby. The completely off-hand manner in which these two characters discuss whether an existing human being in a vulnerable state will live or die is chilling, or should be. It represents the casual denial of reality by everyone involved, and, of course, the audience as well, that the Roe v. Wade decision cultivated.

1. St. Joan is non-binery now. Should you care? The Globe Theatre in London, will open their production of “I, Joan” on August 25 in which the historical figure and Catholic saint will be portrayed as a non-binary character who uses they/them pronouns. Joan is certainly an androgynous figure, so it makes as much sense to pull this stunt with her, ah, “them” as with anyone, I guess. I’m seeing a lot of conservative blogs fulminating about it. Here’s Joan, by the way:

There can be several ways to justify this. One is if there is a spectacular actress/actor/whatsis who can make the interpretation work. Another is to get publicity, sell tickets, and make enough money to help the company thrive. I don’t care if Joan of Arc is played as an anteater if it results in good theater: a non-binary Joan is less of stretch than a Hispanic Alexander Hamilton, and that worked out pretty well. Continue reading

The Worst President Ever? Part 3.

In May, Ethics Alarms began a review of the U.S. Presidents to separate the chaff from the wheat, keeping the chaff, and assembling the finalists for the Worst U.S. President Ever competition. The issue has gained more significance of late: President Biden’s polls are now the worst of any President at a similar stage in his first term, and his own party and its propaganda minions—you know, the mainstream media and its pundits—appear to be sharpening the metaphorical long knives.  No potential finalists were found in the first ten Presidents, examined in Part 1. Among POTUSes 11-20, which EA covered in Part 2,  there were three finalists, strong candidates all: depressed and drunken Franklin Pierce, lonely and inert James Buchanan, and poor Andrew Johnson.

Let’s assess Presidents #21-28, technically eight, but really only seven, because one of them really needs a lot of exposition. The photo above is a clue…

President Chester A. Arthur, 1881-1885, who inherited the office after President Garfield’s doctors killed him, can’t be one of the worst Presidents, because he’s among the most over-achieving ones, as I’ve written about here and elsewhere.  He rose to the challenge and surprised even himself. He also, unlike some Presidents I could name, refused to be a puppet of his party’s power-brokers, and did what he thought was in the best interests of the people. This ended with him being respected by the public and shunned by his party: he wasn’t allowed to run for a second term. If Biden is blocked from the nomination, it will be the first time since Arthur that a President who hadn’t removed himself from consideration after a single term was rejected by his party.

Arthur, however, was much more popular than Joe Biden.

Disqualified. Continue reading

Observations On Larry Tribe’s Latest Trump-Deranged Tweet…

I can only find out about EA post-worthy tweets second-hand, as I killed my Twitter account after the platform censored the Hunter Biden laptop story. I actually followed Tribe’s tweets before that, because his public descent into demented hackery after such a distinguished legal and academic career had the tragic fascination of gruesome car wreck as well as conveying a useful lesson in mortality: I have asked my wife to bash in my head with a brick from behind should I ever jump the cognitive shark as obviously as Tribe has.

This time, Ann Althouse was my tweet source, though her post’s subject was another, slightly less whacked-out tweet re-tweeting Tribe by author Joyce Carol Oates. Tribe’s tweet, in turn, only quoted a typical piece of furious Trump-Deranged venom from Times columnist Maureen Dowd. Before his brain started to melt, the idea of Prof. Tribe appealing to the authority of the likes of Dowd would be like imagining Henry Kissinger quoting “Mark Trail.”

All clear now? Observations: Continue reading

Case Study In Minneapolis: The Compensatory Racial Discrimination Slippery Slope

Or perhaps they just don’t believe in the Constitution in Minneapolis—you know, like in California.

The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers struck a deal last March 25 with the Minneapolis Public Schools ending a teacher strike, and among the provisions was “educators of color protections.” If a non-white teacher is first on the list to be let go for budget reasons, the school system must fire a white teacher with the “next least” seniority instead.

Got that?

“Starting with the Spring 2023 Budget Tie-Out Cycle, if excessing a teacher who is a member of a population underrepresented among licensed teachers in the site, the District shall excess the next least senior teacher, who is not a member of an underrepresented population,” the agreement reads.

Needless to say…wait, I guess it does need to be said!—this is flat out illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The provision violates a Supreme Court decision overturning the race-based layoff of a white teacher. It violates contradicts a federal appeals court decision ruling that race-based layoffs of white teachers violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

It is wrong. It is discriminatory and unfair. It is biased and prejudiced. It is unethical.

Hey, but it satisfies the current cult of “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,” so there’s no problem!

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Observations On Fargo’s Pledge of Allegiance Botch

I’m not sure “botch” is the right word; I don’t know what word to use. All I know for certain that Fargo’s School Board is getting a lot of publicity for adding one more chunk of division to nation that needs to start letting its self-inflicted wounds heal instead of tearing at them constantly

Once, in simpler and more sane times, what the Fargo School Board chose to do and say before their meetings wouldn’t even be news. In fact, I’d like to know who thought this should be news. If it wasn’t reported as significant, it wouldn’t be significant. If a school board member engages in dumb virtue-signaling in the forest and nobody hears it, does it matter? A conundrum for the ages. What did happen is this…

In February, a motion to have the Pledge recited at meetings, made by board member David Paulson, died for a lack of a motion for a second. Raised again at the March board meeting, it passed. Thus the Pledge…

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

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Sunday Ethics Echoes, 8/14/2022: “Is Anybody There?”

Ah, weekends in August. Except for a handful of much appreciated ethics enthusiasts, comments are sparse, EA traffic is weak, and as I prepare these posts while deadlines for paying ethics clients near, I find myself once again wondering if this is a wise use of my time, energy, and emotional resolve. Fortunately I am not prey to depression, unlike my mother, many of my friends, Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill, but it doesn’t help that the Red Sox really stink this season…

1. Retirement ethics, or, if you prefer, “stupid athlete retirement tricks.” If you retire, dammit, retire. It is not a coincidence that the two most famous un-retirements were authored by two of the biggest jerks in Boston sports history, Roger Clemens and Tom Brady. But attention must be paid to Tyson Fury, one of the mostly unknown heavyweight boxing champions. (Boy, did that sport crash quickly! If you remember when heavyweight boxing matches were big deals and the results were front page news, you must be at least 40), announced his retirement from pugilism in April after his win against challenger Dillian Whyte to retain his heavyweight crown and stay undefeated. Fury had said for weeks that Whyte would be his final opponent. Then, last week, the WBC heavyweight championship announced he was returning to boxing. Three days later, Fury announced he was retiring again.

At least he hadn’t toured the country picking up expensive retirement gifts like Roger Clemens.

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Compelled Ideological Conformity In Higher Education: Part I, The Students

This is frightening, infuriating, and, of course, unethical. Sharing responsibility, however, are the supposed devotees of intellectual freedom, freedom of thought and freedom of speech who have been asleep at the switch while dedicated anti-democratic, anti-American values revolutionaries seized control over nearly all U.S. colleges and universities. Not only has the essential resistance to this siege been weak, late and under-publicized, the public’s awareness of the phenomenon is shockingly dim.

Good job, everyone.

A recent and blatant example of restrictions on ideas and beliefs comes to us from California (naturally), where the campus chapter of Young Americans for Freedom had sued Clovis Community College after the administration ordered the removal of flyers that had previously been approved.

In November 2021, three Clovis students received permission from administrators to post anti-Communist flyers on bulletin boards inside Clovis’ academic buildings. The flyers were later removed when the school reversed its position in response to student objections. A month later, the college denied the YAF’s’s request to post anti-abortion flyers on bulletin boards in the academic buildings. Instead, the flyers were only allowed at an outdoor “free-speech kiosk” on the Clovis campus. The censored students are being represented by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), the nonprofit that has taken over the national role of non-partisan champion of free speech now that the ACLU has sided with the rising totalitarians in our institutions and government.

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Stop Making Me Defend (Ugh) Roy Moore!

Is Roy Moore the most repulsive public figure to warrant an Ethics Alarms “Don’t Make Me Defend…” posts? Oooh, tough call. I checked: the all-time leader in such posts is Donald Trump, with Joe Biden a distant second. Then we have Jack Phillips (the anti-gay baker), Sean Spicer, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, Kathy Griffin, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Joy Behar, Alex Jones, Lenny Dykstra, Woody Allen, Stacey Abrams, Chris Cuomo (twice!), Nicki Minaj, Tucker Carlson, Nancy Pelosi and Pete Rose. That’s tough and nauseating competition. What do you think?

But I digress. The occasion for my rallying to Roy’s side is the $8.2 million verdict in his favor in his defamation suit against the Senate Majority PAC for a negative TV ad characterizing some of the sexual misconduct accusations against him that helped derail Moore’s failed 2017 U.S. Senate bid in Alabama.

Senate Majority PAC funded a group called Highway 31 that ran a $4 million advertising blitz against Moore, concentrating on the accounts of his pursuit of teenage girls early in his career when he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. It is beyond reasonable dispute that Moore was creepy with young girls, even Joe Biden-like. However, defamation is when one states as fact something for which there is no factual evidence and that harms another’s reputation.

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