Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

Ethics Dunce: Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum

 

wax-obama

Above is the current wax figure used at the museums’ various locales to represent Barack Obama. Boy, I LIKE that guy! Who wouldn’t trust THAT guy?

And here is the newly unveiled effigy of Donald Trump, just in time for his Inauguration…

wax-trump

ARRRGH!!!!

RUUUUUUUNNNNNN!!!

Nice, Madame.  Make him look as much like Mussolini, or Alec Baldwin’s ugly SNL impression as possible.

No bias there!

Just out of curiosity, I checked the museum’s representations of Hillary Clinton..

wax-hillaryclinton

(Looks just like her, don’t you think?)

and Bill…

wax-bill

(To be fair, Wax Monica is just out of the picture…)

…in comparison to that of President George W. Bush.

wax-bush

 

Hey, what’s unfair about any of those? We all know Republicans are mean and scary, and never smile, right? Democratic leaders, however, are warm, friendly and welcoming!

Shameless.

 

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More Inaugeration Ethics: The Hero, The Dunce, And The Weenie…Whoops, Make That A Dunce And TWO Weenies

 

inaugeration-dunces

The Ethics Hero was going to be Jennifer Holliday, the big-voiced diva who stopped the Broadway hit “Dreamgirls” with her solo, “I’m not going.” She had agreed to sing at the Inauguration, telling the Associated Press that her decision to participate was a way to welcome the American people to an event that should be about unifying the country.

Which is, of course, what it is.

She then faced a vicious response to her patriotic and principled decision, with critics calling for a boycott of her music, labeling her as an “Uncle Tom,” promising that her career was over and telling her to kill herself. Most vociferous of the bullies were those from the LGBT community, which has managed to convince itself that Trump is a foe despite the fact that nothing in his speeches or record suggest that he is. But he is a Republican, and thus presumptively biased. (Assuming anyone is less than admirable based on group membership is bigotry, but in this case, the argument goes, good bigotry.)

Rather than stand up for what she said was right, Holiday whined, and capitulated:

“How could I have this much hate spewing at me, and I haven’t even done anything? I guess it’s not like those old days when political views were your own and you had freedom of speech. … We live in a different time now and a decision to go and do something for America is not so clear-cut anymore.”
The way to stand up for the values you claim to embrace, you sniveling coward, is to refuse to be bullied out of supporting them, and opposing the forces of divisiveness and hate.Ah, but performers who are willing to resist peer pressure and the howls of the mob are rarer than Florida panthers, so Jennifer grovelled instead, in a nauseating open letter:

O MY BELOVED LGBT COMMUNITY:

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For The Last Time: This Is Why The Post-Election Attacks On Trump And His Election Are Unethical

This is the last time I’m going to try to explain why the fair, patriotic, ethical and rational approach to the impending Presidency of Donald Trump is to be supportive of the office and the individual until his actual performance in the job earns just criticism. Attempting to undermine a Presidency at its outset is a self-destructive act, for nobody benefits if a Presidency fails. Wishing for a failed Presidency was what Rush Limbaugh did in 2008, and he was justly condemned for it, substantially by the same people who are saying the same thing he did, but about Donald Trump. They were right then, and they today are just as wrong, and despicable,  as Rush was.

I have had numerous debates, on and off Ethics Alarms, with usually reasonable people who take the #NotMyPresident position, which is nonsense on its face. If you are a citizen, Trump is your President. We don’t have, or allow, citizen states. You can dissent, and support political opposition, but you still must obey the laws and be loyal to the nation, which means loyalty to the nation’s elected leadership. Loyalty doesn’t require agreement, but it does require respecting legitimate authority, and seeking what is best for the United States of America. Constitutional crisis is never good for any nation. A crippled government is never good. A leader estranged from the public is never good. Seeking these things is irresponsible and foolish, but more than that, it is dangerous.

In The Caine Mutiny, a film version of the stage drama and novel “The Caine Mutiny Court Martial,” Captain Queeg (Humphrey Bogart), a man whose war-shattered nerves and self-esteem problems have rendered him an erratic and an unpopular officer, falters in his command during a storm. His officers, frightened and already convinced that their captain is unfit for command, mutiny. At their military trial, their defense attorney causes Queeg to have a breakdown on the witness stand, winning the case for the accused mutineers. Later, however, at the post trial victory party, the lawyer, Barney Greenwald (Jose Ferrer),  shames his clients. He represented them zealously, but he tells them that they were, in fact, at fault for what occurred on the Caine: Continue reading

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Ethics Quiz Follow-Up (And An Ugly One): The Congressional Art Competition Winner’s Painting [UPDATED]

clay-painting-back

Well now we have a definitive answer to the Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz that asked whether  it was responsible, fair, and ethical for Congressman Lacy Clay (D-Mo) to have the painting above displayed in the U.S. Capitol, and we don’t even have to use the ethics decision-making process I included in the post. (I note ruefully that readers were challenged to use the method to reach a conclusion, and none did.)

We don’t have to use it, because we now know some things we didn’t know at first, or at least I didn’t. Based on news reports when I first posted, I assumed that the work by high school senior David Pulphus was chosen by a designated committee, and that Clay was bound by the terms of the contest to hang the winning painting in the Capitol. That would have made the treatment of the obviously inflammatory artwork, which depicts the false Black Lives Matter narrative that Mike Brown was gunned down in Ferguson by a racist cop without cause, an ethics conflict, pitting the First Amendment and the obligation to fulfill  a commitment against the inclusion of racially divisive art in the Capitol, which is irresponsible.  Now we know, however, that Clay himself helped choose the painting, and that he did so despite the fact that the painting directly violated the rules of the contest, and thus was ineligible:

“While it is not the intent to censor any artwork, we do wish to avoid artwork that is  potentially inappropriate for display in this highly travelled area leading to the Capitol.Artwork must adhere to the policy of the House Office Building Commission. In accordance with this policy, exhibits depicting subjects of contemporary political controversy or a sensationalistic or gruesome nature are not allowed. It is necessary that all artwork be reviewed by the panel chaired by the Architect of the Capitol and any portion not in consonance with the Commission’s policy will be omitted from the exhibit. If an entrant is unsure  about whether a piece of artwork is acceptable, he or she should contact the staff of his or her  Member of  Congress; the congressional staff can speak with personnel who can determine whether the artwork would be accepted.”

The painting is beyond question  “depicting subjects of contemporary political controversy or a sensationalist or gruesome nature.” In allowing the painting to be entered, participating in selecting it, seeing that it was chosen as the winner, and hanging such an inflammatory work in the Capitol, Rep. Clay was… Continue reading

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Award Ethics: Hollywood’s Casey Affleck-Nate Parker Controversy Is Ethically Simple, But Then, Hollywood Doesn’t Have Ethics

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock (7734778do) Casey Affleck - Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama - Manchester By The Sea 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards, Press Room, Los Angeles, USA - 08 Jan 2017

There were several possible Ethics Alarms posts that could have come out of The Golden Globe Awards last night, the obvious one involving the continuing arts community tantrum in the wake of the election of Donald Trump over Hollywood’s sweetheart, Hillary Clinton. Meryl Streep put herself in the running for “Gratuitous Cheap Shot Of The Year ” with her acceptance speech for something or other, but I decided that in a community where Rosie O’Donnell tweets “Fuck you!” to the Speaker of the House for simply completing his duty to certify the Electoral College vote, and over the weekend tweeted, “HE MUST NEVER BE SWORN IN – DELAY INAGURATION – INVESTIGATE – ARREST HIM” as her considered analysis of the proper workings of our democracy, Streep’s shot seemed like the height of restraint.

The more interesting issue on display at the Golden Globes  involves actor Casey Affleck, Batman’s brother, who won the night’s Best Actor in a Film Drama award for his performance in “Manchester by the Sea.” Last year, it was revealed that the actor had two sexual harassment lawsuits filed against him in 2010 that alleged he had groped women on the set and created a generally hostile work environment while directing the film, “I’m Still Here.” Since during the campaign Hollywood was all-in using misogyny and sexual  harassment as one of the many accusations against Donald Trump, some claim that honoring Affleck undermines the community’s assumed condemnation of the Trump-like conduct he was accused of.

Complicating the matter is the conundrum surrounding Nate Parker, the previously unknown black artist who was the main creative force behind the 2016 slave-revolt film “The Birth of a Nation.”  As Oscar buzz was ramping up for his film—remember that the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences is more or less obligated to find plenty of nominations and awards for African Americans, regardless of objective artistic merit—  new details surfaced concerning a decades old criminal case in which Parker was accused of raping a female student while both were at Penn State.  He was acquitted,  but the facts were ugly, and the alleged victim committed suicide. Once that was known, all of the promise shown by “The Birth of a Nation” evaporated. Although the film was a smash at festivals, it received mixed reviews,bombed at the box office, and has been poison at the various awards so far, receiving no nominations.

The New York Times, among other media sources, has published several articles about the apparent double standard, saying most recently,
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Hillary Gets A Standing O On Broadway

standing-o

Well, good.

Last night, Hillary, Bill and Chelsea Clinton attended the closing performance of “The Color Purple” on The Great White Way. The audience gave Hillary a standing ovation.

This profoundly annoyed the conservative media and blogosphere, which contrasted the warm reception with the booing Vice-President-Elect Pence when he want to see “Hamilton” just down the street. It was a contrast, all right: the audience at “Hamilton” were rude jerks, and the audience at “The Color Purple” treated Hillary Clinton like every audience of fair and respectful citizens should treat anyone willing to endure the rigors and abuse of a Presidential campaign for the privilege of being burdened by one of the most difficult and all-consuming responsibilities on earth, in order to serve and protect the United States of America.

Kind and respectful gestures are never unethical.

I would have stood.

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“Don’t Breathe” Ethics

I just watched the 2016 horror/suspense thriller “Don’t Breathe,” in which Stephen Lang, always excellent, plays a blind veteran whose home is invaded by three self-righteous young sociopaths who intend to rob him. The movie is the latest genre movies with ethical mind-benders concocted in the House of Raimi, as Sam Raimi, the flamboyant auteur behind “The Evil Dead,” “Xena,” the first couple Spiderman movies and especially “Drag Me To Hell,” was the lead executive producer here and Raimi’s protege, Fede Alvarez, directed and wrote the script.

How do I do this without spoiling the film for someone who hasn’t seen it? I can’t. If you intend to ever see the hit 2016 movie but have not yet, then just wait for the next post. Otherwise, read on.

“Don’t Breathe” becomes one of those monster movies where you start rooting for the monster, and even that doesn’t encompass the  ethical morass the movie creates. Imagine “Wait Until Dark”except that the imperiled blind woman (Audrey Hepburn) is replaced by a blind Steven Seagal (the younger, thinner version), or maybe Billy Jack, and he beats the living daylights out of  or kills the three middle-aged male thugs—including a creepy evil mastermind played by Alan Arkin— who get into his house.

Got that? Okay, now replace the three thugs with three attractive twenty-somethings, including a troubled young woman trying to start a new life after an abusive childhood. Continue reading

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