“Ick” Or Ethics? Michael Crichton’s 1981 Film “Looker” Is Coming True…

In “Looker,” a 1981 science fiction thriller starring Albert Finney, James Coburn and Susan Dey, involves a high tech research firm that concludes that real, live models, even after cosmetic surgery, can’t approach the physical perfection that will optimally influence consumers. Models are offered a contracts to have their faces and figures scanned to create 3D computer-generated avatars, indistinguishable from them, which are animated for use in commercials. Once their bodies duplicated digitally, they get lifetime paychecks (though not for as much as Miguel Cabrera, currently at $400,410,623 and counting, gets) and can retire, since their computer-generated, more perfect dopplegangers will be doing their work for them. For some reason, the evil tech firms has all of the models murdered, but that part of the plot is irrelevant here.

42 years later, Levi Strauss & Co. announced in a press release yesterday that it is partnering with an AI company to “increase the number and diversity of our models for our products in a sustainable way.” Yeah, those digital models in “Looker” were also “sustainable,” even though the models’ flesh and blood models were disposable. Levi’s will test the use of AI models to “supplement” real-life models later in 2023.

“While AI will likely never fully replace human models for us”, “—-yeah, tell it to Susan Dey—-we are excited for the potential capabilities this may afford us for the consumer experience,” said Dr. Amy Gershkoff Bolles, global head of digital and emerging technology strategy at Levi Strauss & Co, sounding a lot like James Coburn, the evil advertising genius in “Looker.”

Meanwhile, in arguably related news, Levi Strauss & Co. will be laying off 800 employees — almost 20% of its corporate jobs.

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Stop Making Me Defend Hillary Clinton!

Hillary Clinton is being skewered on social media for the above promotional video promoting her upcoming Columbia U. course “Inside the Situation Room.” Clinton was brought onto the faculty to co-teach the offering, which is open by application only to students attending the university’s School of International and Public Affairs and undergraduates from Columbia College, Barnard College, and the university’s School of General Studies.

Some of the criticism is in line with that of Glenn Greenwald and other Clinton adversaries who regard her as a warmonger. “The US official who has urged more wars than anyone over the last 3 decades with the possible exception of John Bolton – including Iraq, Libya, Syria, and now Ukraine – is teaching Columbia students a class called ‘Foreign-Policy Decision-Making.’ And boy they’re excited!” Greenwald tweeted. The rest of the brickbats are aimed at the video itself, which the Blaze described as “cringy.”

Oh, it’s that, all right. But both critiques are unfair, at least regarding Hillary. Regardless of what Clinton’s policies and proclivities were, she certainly has sufficient background in the field of international diplomacy and foreign policy decision-making to provide students with useful perspective. The press release about the course promises that students will learn “how to analyze and understand the complex interplay between individual psychology, domestic politics, public opinion, bureaucracy, the international environment, and other factors which feed into decisions about foreign policy,” including the “use of force, signaling and perception, intelligence and its analysis, the deployment of other instruments of statecraft, and more.” Hillary is qualified to provide guidance and the benefit of her experience on all of that. I’d take the course, just as I took the negotiation seminar taught by Adrian Fisher, who was the principle U.S. negotiator of the SALT Treaty.

The critique of the goofy video is certainly called for, but Hillary is innocent. She didn’t write, direct or conceive the stupid thing: that’s on the university. Nor is her the quality of her performance being fairly knocked: she’s a lot better than her stiff co-instructor, who has the ineffable air of a bad community theater actress about her. Helen Mirren couldn’t make that script work; I think Hillary was a good sport to do the video, lame as it was. She had just joined the faculty, and she was being cooperative, collegial, and willing to spoof herself to boost student interest.

Well, good for her. I came away from that video liking her more than I did before seeing it.

Parody Ethics: What Is This Case Doing At The Supreme Court? [Corrected]

Well, KABOOM! There goes my head.

Absurdly, Jack Daniel’s, the largest American whiskey manufacturer, sued VIP Products, one of the principle American dog toy manufacturer (Spuds loves their toys) over a parody plastic squeaky toy modeled on Jack Daniel’s bottles. (Spud likes a squeaky toy that looks like a Coor beer bottle). On the dog toy, as you can see, instead of describing “Old No. 7 Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey” manufactured by “Jack Daniel’s,” the toy is “Bad Spaniel,” “Old No. 2 on your Tennessee carpet.”

Oral argument at the Supreme Court was yesterday. Finding a likelihood that consumers would confuse the “Bad Spaniels” toy with Jack Daniel’s, the trial court ruled in favor of the liquor company and barred VIP from continuing to manufacture the parody toy, ruling, believe it or not, that that consumers would confuse the “Bad Spaniels” toy with Jack Daniel’s whiskey. Yeah, I always have that problem, mixing up dog toys with liquor bottles. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit reversed on both counts, because the trial court’s theory was…well, let Sidney Wang explain:

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When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring: “Regina: The City That Rhymes With Fun!”

I can understand one dim bulb not realizing that this was a vulgar, juvenile, and offensive promotion. But an entire tourism organization? Nobody stepped up and said, “Wait a minute! Are you people nuts?”?


Experience Regina, the tourism organization in Saskatchewan’s capital city of Regina, came up with an oh-so-clever idea for new tourism campaign slogan: “Show us your Regina.” They really did that. They had a second slogan too: “The city that rhymes with fun.” Get it??

Venus is a town in Texas, by the way. Just thought I’d mention it.

Back to Regina: oddly, many people found the two slogans inappropriate. Actually, just about everyone did, which again raised the question of how these locker-room level gags got past the first brain-storming session. So, because nobody involved possessed either good taste, the sense God gave an oyster, or the guts to stand up and make the tourist promotion equivalent of, “Uh, General Custer? I don’t think going down into the valley is such a good idea,”Experience Regina’s CEO had to release a quick abject apology. groveling,

“I want to start by apologizing, on behalf of myself and our team, for the negative impact we created with elements of our recent brand launch.  It was clear that we fell short of what is expected from our amazing community with some slogans that we used.”

Now he needs to resign for assembling such an inept and sophomoric staff.

Incidentally, there is a Delores, Colorado. Maybe he can start over there…


Source: Outkick

Ethics Hero And “Bite Me!” Déjà Vu: San Jose Sharks Goalie James Reimer [Corrected]

You may not believe this, given how often it is I have to do it, but I hate repeating myself. This post is essentially identical to this one, from January: same issue, same pandering, power-abusing sports league (the NHL), same awards (Ethics Hero and A “Bite Me!”), same despicable news media coverage; different team (the Sharks in place of the Flyers) and different player (Sharks goalie James Reimer replacing the Philadelphia Flyers’ Ivan Provorov…during the game against the Islanders,).

As in the case of the Flyers two months ago, the Sharks hosted a Pride Night (what someone’s sexual activities have to do with hockey and why they are something to be proud of remains a mystery to me), and announced that, in addition to offering silly LGTBQ+ themed, “Great Stupid”classic items like these…

…during the game against the Islanders,and promoting it with pandering blather like this…

…the team also committed its players to wearing special pride-themed jerseys during pre-game warm-ups. Well, you can’t do that, not ethically. It’s compelled speech by an employer with a threat of negative consequences for any employee who doesn’t comply. I would (and have) refused to go along with such edicts as an employee in the past even when I happened to agree with the sentiments I was ordered to endorse.

Like Provorov, the Sharks goalie declined to be pushed into endorsing something he chose not to, stating,

“For all 13 years of my NHL career, I have been a Christian — not just in title, but in how I choose to live my life daily. I have a personal faith in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for my sins and, in response, asks me to love everyone and follow him. I have no hate in my heart for anyone, and I have always strived to treat everyone that I encounter with respect and kindness. In this specific instance, I am choosing not to endorse something that is counter to my personal convictions which are based on the Bible, the highest authority in my life,”

He should not have been placed in a position where he had to make such a statement. (I would have preferred to see a shorts statement about compelled speech and political endorsements in general, but that’s just me.)

Predictably, and just as in the case of Reimer, the Woke Borg, Mainstream Media Division, attacked. One hockey writer described Reimer as “absolutely a homophobe” and beclowned himself by writing, “Here’s also what I believe, Jesus would unequivocally love and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. He’d be the first to wear a rainbow.” Another sports writer wrote that Reimer is “hiding behind the Bible to refuse to endorse gay people having rights and existing.” A bit less mainstream, a newsletter about sexism in sports spat out, “Under the umbrella of disingenuous bullshit, you can fuck right off with this statement. If you truly believed the queer community is welcome in hockey, you’d wear the shirt. You do not get to have it both ways. Jesus is not impressed.” More assumptions about that well-known hockey fan, Jesus of Nazareth!

The NHL and the Sharks are the ethics villains here for putting their players in this position.

The NHL and the Sharks are the ethics villains here for putting their players in this position. The Sharks tried to both double down and weasel out, issuing this:

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Oh, What The Hell: I’m Designating This Pizza Shop’s Owners Ethics Heroes

I view this as similar to the “It’s OK to be white” controversy. It’s a veritable Rorschach test that provokes thought, consideration and discussion, and any business that does that without being pompous and annoying (Like, say, Starbuck’s) is making a positive contribution to public discourse.

Santino’s Pizzeria hung the banner outside its Columbus, Ohio, store a few months ago, partially in frustration over new staff not taking their jobs seriously. “A lot of the people we’ve hired just don’t want to work,” Jayden Dunigan, whose familiy owns the restaurant, told reporters.“There is no work ethic behind them, so that’s the meaning behind the ‘non-stupid.”

“I had a high school student who thought it was okay to bring a Nerf gun in with another employee here,” the shop’s manager added. The other motivation for the sign was humor. Yet some critics on social media are “offended.” Is the sign a subtle shot at DEI? Is the shop saying people are stupid?

On balance, I’ve decided it’s a constructive and courageous message, especially in the Age of The Great Stupid.

Comment Of The Day: “‘What’s Going On Here?’ Why Does Disney Think It Is Appropriate To Produce And Circulate Abrasive, Divisive, Confrontational Interest Group Propaganda And Indoctrination Like This?”

I have a confession to make. I know that the ethical and moral deterioration of the Disney corporation is a major ethics catastrophe with dire consequences for our society and culture, and Ethics Alarms should have been covering it more thoroughly. It hasn’t, and that’s because this topic is particularly painful for me.

I owe so much to Disney’s creations and philosophy. I learned a lot of ethics from the shows and movies growing up, and many of my most enduring and important interests and hobbies were inspired by Walt’s vision. My fascination with dinosaurs began with the terrifying T-Rex sequence in “The Rite of Spring” segment of “Fantasia,” for example. My reverence for the Alamo was inspired by Disney’s “Davy Crockett” series. The first dramatic production of any kind that genuinely move me was “Bambi.” I never got to visit a Disney theme park until college, but finally going to Disneyland after dreaming about it as a kid was one of the epiphanal experiences of my entire life: it was perhaps the only time something I had looked forward to was even better than I expected it to be. Disney’s perfectionism—at the parks, which were immaculate and overlooked no detail to immerse visitors in the fantasy, and in the TV shows and movies—influenced my own view of professionalism and my approach to directing for the stage. His courage and certitude in pursuing risky creative projects that everyone was telling him were doomed to fail—a full length animated film?—bolstered my own resolve when I have had project ideas that seemed nuts to everyone but me.

(And some were nuts, as it turned out. But the times I was right more than made up for those.)

I could go on, but I won’t. The point is that attacking Disney for me is like savaging a childhood hero, or even a parent. But the country, its culture and mental health is being harmed by the current distortion of Walt’s creation’s destructive alliance with the radical Left. It deserves to be attacked, and it’s time I got down to it.

This Comment of the Day (actually two comments, in sequence) by jmv0405 on the depressing post yesterday on a Disney Critical Race Theory video, makes up for some of that lost time by getting the discussion jump-started. It is also a perceptive and illuminating perspective that I wouldn’t have seen without the comment’s guidance. Continue reading

Cartoon Ethics, Part I: Here…

In Margate, Florida…

…a controversy erupted in South Florida when a shopper at the Presidente Supermarket in Margate saw the logo on a package of  Azucar Morena brown sugar (above). Paul Taffe, the indignant shopper, immediately reported to the local political correctness station—well, a local TV news squad—and expressed his horror.

“Doesn’t matter how you look at it, it’s racism in any form,” Taffe said. “Bottom line, and it should not be on the shelf. When you see an image of a Mammy dancing around with two sugar cane stalks in her hand, thinking that she’s having a jolly old time, it’s not. It was never a jolly old time for us.”

Not to be picky, but how does he know what “Mammy” is thinking? To be clear, like it or not, the fact of life in the U.S. is now that no cartoon representation of blacks is safe to present, unless the approach rejects the exaggeration of prominent features that makes it a cartoon as opposed to just a crude drawing. Exaggerated features on a white cartoon character…

…are recognized as humor and accepted as such; doing the same with any other race is racist, as with the sugar image above or Dr. Seuss’s now banned drawings…

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Ivan Provorov, The Sequel: The New York Rangers Score A “Bite Me!”

If I had to guess where a major stand against LGBTQ+ bullying would occur, professional hockey would not have been among the candidates. All it takes, though, is a leader. In an earlier post, Ethics Alarms awarded an Ethics Hero designation and the first “Bite Me!” award to Ivan Provorov, the Philadelphia Flyers defenseman who refused to wear a “Pride”-themed warmup jersey as mandated by the team and the NHL. He knew he would be pilloried for not grovelling to the LGBTQ mob, but stood firm. He said, in effect, to those dictating which causes he must support, “Bite me!”

Now an entire NHL team, emboldened by his integrity, has followed Proverov’s lead. The New York Rangers declined to wear their “rainbow”practice jerseys prior to a home game against the Vegas Golden Knights on January 27th, which had been designated “Pride Night.” The team’s promotions had promised that the players would, but they apparently decided that they were not going to be the organization’s cynical billboards. Not wearing the jerseys does not, as some claimed, constitute a rejection of the LGBTQ+ cause. It is a rejection of forced political or social expression.

The Rangers had no right to promise a public endorsement of any particular cause by the individual players. The players had no obligation to rescue the team from an unethical and irresponsible promise that amounted to false advertising. The team still “prided” the night like crazy: it announced a charitable donation to a group that supports homeless LGBTQ+ youth, Madison Square Garden was illuminated in rainbow lights during the game. Broadway star Michael James Scott, openly gay, sang the national anthem. Andre Thomas, the co-chair of NYC Pride and Heritage of Pride, took part in the ceremonial puck drop. Fans received a Pride-themed fanny pack, while the pinwheel ceiling and panels on the outside of the Garden were illuminated in the rainbow colors.

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The Great Stupid Is Now Officially An Existential Threat To American Civilization, Because, As The Dodo Proved, Things Really Can Be Too Stupid To Live…

Morons. Everywhere I look, morons.

This isn’t funny any more, if it ever was. I was pondering whether reports that an organization called The Trans Cultural Mindfulness Alliance is demanding that Apple Music and Spotify remove the Aretha Franklin 1968 song “Natural Woman”  from their playlists because it “perpetuates multiple harmful anti-trans stereotypes,” since “there is no such thing as a ‘natural’ woman.” The group claims that the song “has helped inspire acts of harm against transgender women.” 

Really? I’d like to see the citations for that. I know I want to run amuck with a machete every time I hear “Imagine,” but Aretha never made me feel violent.

I couldn’t believe this story could be true, until I encountered this story, which is even dumber.

Last year, Mars Wrigley changed the shoes of some of its cartoon M&M’s characters that appear in TV ads. Conservatives were upset. Let me repeat that: some conservatives were upset because of a change in the design of anthropomorphic animated candies’ shoes. Tucker Carlson  criticized the character makeovers as “Woke M&M’s.” Slow news day, Tucker?

M&M’s marketers had  re-shod the green “female” M&M’s high heels with flats and replaced the intimidating brown “female” M&M’s stilettos for smaller heels.


Tucker pounced! “M&M’s will not be satisfied until every last cartoon character is deeply unappealing and totally androgynous,”  Carlson said on his show. “Until the moment when you wouldn’t want to have a drink with any one of them. That’s the goal. When you’re totally turned off, we’ve achieved equity. They’ve won.” Continue reading