Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

“The Magnificent Seven” Ethics (Spoiler Warning!)

I have noted more than once what an excellent ethics movie the original 1960 Western classic “The Magnificent Seven” is. Occasional  Ethics Alarms contributor and apparently retired ethics blogger Bob Stone made an excellent case for what he calls his favorite ethics movie here, but the screenplay makes its own case with exchanges like this one:

Harry (Brad Dexter): “There comes a time to turn mother’s picture to the wall and get out. The village will be no worse off than it was before we came.”

Chris (Yul Brenner): “You forget one thing — we took a contract.”

Vin (Steve McQueen): “It’s not the kind any court would enforce.”

Chris: “That’s just the kind you’ve got to keep.”

or the very first scene, where gunslinger Chris volunteers to drive a horse-drawn hearse to Boot Hill where a group of armed bigots are threatening to shoot anyone who tries to bury a recently deceased Indian, who lived in the town, in the town’s cemetery along with “decent white folks.”  Steve McQueen (Vin) goes along as Chris’s wing-man, and the first two of the seven team up for an act of pure altruism.

The remake of the film opened over the weekend, and in part because I’m doing a program for the Smithsonian about the lore surrounding the movie, I saw it. And took notes.

It’s not bad. I enjoyed it. It is yet another example of how Hollywood no longer trusts the Western genre or its traditional trappings: the heroes in this and the heroes in most modern Westerns are now portrayed as super-heroes, ridiculously fast on the draw, absurdly accurate with every shot, and able to ride like circus performers. At a certain point, this silliness leads to a damaging loss of suspension of disbelief. The intrusion of gratuitous diversity was also annoying: the end features three heroes riding into the sunset, and they consist of an African-American, a Native American, and a Mexican. How they missed including a handicapped gay woman is mystifying, and somebody should organize a protest. Well, at least all the whites and the Asian guy were killed. That’s something. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Humor and Satire, Leadership, Popular Culture

California Decides It’s The Government’s Function To Help Actors Pretend They Are Younger Than They Really Are

picture-of-a-birthday-cake-with-lots-of-candles

California increasingly appears to be hell bent on serving as the cautionary example of how the belief that government has an unlimited brief to meddle in everything leads to abuse and derangement.

Gov. Jerry Brown last week signed legislation that prevents  entertainment websites such as the Internet Movie Database (IMDb),from posting an actor’s age or birthday if the actor doesn’t want anyone to know how old he or she is.

The law, which becomes effective January 1, applies to entertainment database sites that allow paid subscribers to post resumes, headshots or other information for prospective employers. Only a paying subscriber can make a removal or non-publication request. The beneficial end that supposedly justifies  this unconstitutional and suppressive means is that age discrimination is allegedly rampant in show business.

“Even though it is against both federal and state law, age discrimination persists in the entertainment industry,” Golden State legislature Majority Leader Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, said in a statement. “AB 1687 provides the necessary tools to remove age information from online profiles on employment referral websites to help prevent this type of discrimination.”

Naturally the actor unions are all for this form of government censorship. “Gov. Jerry Brown today stood with thousands of film and television professionals and concerned Californians who urged him to sign AB 1687, a California law that will help prevent age discrimination in film and television casting and hiring,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris. You remember Gabby, don’t you? She was the brainy, non-sexy teen in the original “Beverly Hills 90210.” I’m sure she thinks the reason her career tanked as she edged into middle age was “discrimination.”

I’ve seen you act, Gabrielle. It wasn’t. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Rights, The Internet, U.S. Society

Tales Of The Insidious Double Standard: SNL’s New Latina’s Tweets

You better be hilarious, kid...

You better be hilarious, kid…

 Saturday Night Live recently announced that it was hiring its first Latina cast member, as the show has finally capitulated to placing diversity over humor as a priority. Mexican-American comedian Melissa Villaseñor, 28,  the designated quota-filler, barely had time to take a victory lap before that mean internet thingy tracked down some embarrassing baggage, especially for a performer recruited to buff SNL’s progressive credentials. Aura Bogado, a writer for Grist,  tweeted that Villaseñor had deleted more than 2,000 tweets from her archives over the course of a week.

Why, you ask? Well, because there were tweets like this…

snl-tweet5

aaaand THIS…
snl-tweet4…this:
snl-tweet-1
…THIS…

Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Popular Culture, Professions, Race, Rights, Social Media, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump

Ethics And The New TV Season, Part 2: “Blue Bloods”

danny-shoots

I promise, I’m not going to devote whole posts to every one of the nearly thirty ethics-focused TV shows starting new seasons this month. “Blue Bloods,” however, as the longest running such show and a drama whose very premise is an ethics problem (we call Tom Selleck’s baby “The Conflict of Interest Family” around the ProEthics office)–and it is a multiple winner of the Ethics Alarms Award for best ethics TV series— has earned a post of its own.

Last night was the premiere of “Blue Bloods,” and to its  credit, the show that celebrates our men and women in blue did not duck the issue of police shootings and the national controversy over law enforcement. The episode, titled “The Greater Good,” had NYC Police Chief Frank Reagan’s oldest son, hot-headed police detective Danny (played by Donnie Wahlberg) facing a grand jury because he had shot and killed an unarmed man. Meanwhile, the wife of a fallen officer and Frank Reagan colleague and friend urged Selleck’s character to find a way to flunk her son out of the police academy, because she didn’t want her boy to end up hated and dead, like his father.

Unfortunately, the show’s writers managed to avoid all of the real issues involved in police shootings that have people getting hurt and killed in the Charlotte riots, pro football players grandstanding, and the races parting like the Red Sea as Barack Obama stands  looking on, apparently content.

Danny, you see, shot an unarmed suspect who…

…was white

…an admitted serial killer

tortured his female victims, over 20 of them

…was insane

…had kidnapped Danny’s college-student niece and announced that he would kill her

was goading the detective into firing as part of his vendetta against him

had his hands behind his back intentionally behaving as if he had a weapon, grinning all the while like the eeevil homicidal maniac he was

refused to drop the imaginary weapon when ordered to do so, and

suddenly whipped his hands out from behind his back, prompting Danny to fire.

Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Race, U.S. Society

Ethics Quiz: Disney’s Maui Costume

maui

It’s a bit early for Halloween costume controversies , but the outrage machine is ever vigilant, and has provided a provocative ethics quiz, though not a difficult one if one isn’t the Headless Horseman.

Disney released a Halloween costume for kids that will allow tykes to dress up as the Polynesian demi-god Maui, a character in its new animated movie “Moana.” This is classic Disney cross-marketing, what Wells Fargo would call “cross-selling,” and what Elizabeth Warren would call “evil,” because it makes money for a big corporation. The difference is that Disney allows customers to actually purchase such products intentionally, while Wells Fargo charges customers for products without their knowing it.

Wait, how did I get off on Wells Fargo and Warren? Right: the next post. Sorry.

Back to Maui: The costume features a body-suit with thin brown material covered by traditional Polynesian tattoos, as well as a grass skirt and a plastic bone necklace. As soon as it was released on the web, the costume was attacked as racist (it’s the equivalent of blackface, critics say) and an example of cultural appropriation. Marama Fox, co-leader of New Zealand’s Maori Party, said that selling the costume is “no different to putting the image of one of our ancestors on a shower curtain or a beer bottle” while Pasifika news site Samoa Planet described the release as “cultural appropriation at its most offensive worst”.  The New Zealand Human Rights Commission issued a statement calling on Disney to “listen to the views of the communities and people whose cultures their movie is based upon.“ Translation: “Bend to our will, or else.”

Activist Chelsie Haunani Fairchild argued on Facebook that Disney was encouraging a children to wear “the skin of another race.”

“Polyface is Disney’s new version of blackface. Let’s call it like it is, people,” Fairchild argued in a video.

Oh, let’s!

Your Ethics Alarms (Ridiculously Early Halloween) Ethics Quiz of the Day is this:

Is there anything genuinely unethical about making, advertising, selling or wearing the Maui costume?

Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Marketing and Advertising, Race, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump, U.S. Society

Ethics And The New TV Season, Part 1: “The Good Place”

There are an unusual number of shows this season that should be full of fascinating ethical dilemmas. There is even sitcom, “The Good Place,” with a main character who is an ethicist. He’s a dead ethics, but that’s something. Let’s start with that show as I plan on reviewing the ethics-related TV shows in future posts.

The first episode of  the NBC comedy  began with selfish, habitually unethical  Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) waking up in the afterlife called “the Good Place, I assume to avoid religious controversy. Michael (Ted Danson) welcomes her, and explains that he designed this particular Good Place neighborhood that she will reside in for eternity. As many of us were taught, our lives on Earth are being monitored by higher beings, literally and figuratively. In this show’s cosmology, they calculate our ethical worth using a point system.  Those with the highest positive point totals make it to the Good Place.

The problem is that there has been a glitch: Eleanor was erroneously awarded the point score of a capital punishment-fighting lawyer (naturally the Good Place regards all progressive and liberal positions as “good;” I assume that all conservatives and Republicans are in the Bad Place) when she really was a salesperson for an evil drug company. The situation in this sitcom is whether Eleanor can shape up and justify her points before she is found out and ends up playing strip poker in Hell with Ronald Reagan, William F. Buckley and Phyllis Schlafly.* Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Humor and Satire, Popular Culture

Comment of the Day: “A Daughter Sues Her Parents For Being Assholes. Good.”

growth-sequence

Having just returned from an eight-day (and partially laptop-less) speaking tour  that has me about ten posts behind, it was nice to have Steve-O-in-NJ deliver a textbook Comment of the Day, expanding on the original post with relevant and useful observations about photography -obsessed parents and photography ethics.

I do object from an ethical standpoint to his tit-for-tat endorsing last line.

Here is his good and thoughtful work in response to the post, “A Daughter Sues Her Parents For Being Assholes. Good.”

What are the ethics of taking 500 pictures of your child? I wish that I could say that the ethics of taking large numbers of pictures are always the same but they are not. I am in the middle of a two-week vacation and I have been taking a large number of pictures. I see absolutely nothing wrong with shooting a large number of pictures during an air show, particularly where the opportunity to get a particular shot is very limited. I see absolutely nothing wrong with taking a large number of pictures at a place like Colonial Williamsburg, where the actors are deliberately dressed up in costumes designed to attract attention. The same ethics generally applies to any event where there are costumed individuals who are seeking attention. The same ethics probably apply to sporting events. Of course the shooting of inanimate objects like in a museum is perfectly all right, subject to whatever policies the institution puts in place and makes known. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Etiquette and manners, Family, Social Media