Today’s Dumb Woke Hollywood Casting Question: “Why Does Hollywood Keep Using Fat Suits?” [Corrected]

The New York Times today decides to try a new frontier in the woke casting double standard adventure—you know, the incoherent theory that minority actors should be considered for all roles and all character types regardless of sex, race, size or physical characteristics, but it is unethical for white performers to play any character that they have to act and use make-up to evoke. You know, like good Hollywood liberal Tom Hanks claimed when he issued his recent  mea culpa for playing a gay, AIDS battling lawyer in “Philadelphia.”  So, using the same logic, Tom must have been equally hostile to “diversity, equity and inclusion” when he took a role away from some brilliant, unknown actor with a 75 IQ to play Forrest Gump, just as an autistic actor should have starred in “Rain Man” instead of Dustin Hoffman.

Suuuure. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The Great Stupid often has that effect on me. Sorry.

The Times’ query, in the headline to a column by Arts Section pundit , is “Why Does Hollywood Keep Using Fat Suits?” Gee, it’s a mystery! And come to think of it, why does Hollywood keep using make-up? Special effects? Fake blood?

Here’s a much tougher question: why does the New York Times let people who know nothing about performing, entertainment, business, audiences, comedy, and casting write columns like this? Continue reading

A Case Study Of How Race-Baiting And Race-Bullying Undermines “Diversity” And “Inclusion”: The New Yorker’s Cartoons

The cartoon above is from the current issue of The New Yorker, the woke urban sophisticate’s bible, renowned for its witty, esoteric cartoons since its founding in the flapper era. And yet as woke and progressive and Democratic Party-bootlicking-addicted as it is, The New Yorker rarely includes black characters in its cartoons, and hasn’t since its inception. I checked the most recent compendium of New Yorker cartoons covering eight decades and thousands and thousand of humorous drawings. In only a handful (out of thousands and thousands) do cartoon characters of color even appear in crowd scenes and backgrounds. If they do, they look like the male character above from the only cartoon from the current New Yorker issue to show black characters at all. There were 14 cartoons in the issue, and in the outlier above, blacks are portrayed as white people with tans. I’m sure some professor somewhere will pronounce that representation as offensive anyway. Continue reading

More On Nichelle Nichols: Regarding Althouse’s Misguided Snark

In the introduction to this post, Ethics Alarms mentioned the passing of “Star Trek” icon Nichelle Nichols, whose obituaries prominently noted her participation in TV’s first inter-racial kiss. I wrote in part,

“She was more model than actress, and as her role developed, much to her disappointment, the part of “Uhura” became little more than set dressing. But she played one of the first  black female characters on TV to have a non-subservient role, indeed Uhura was fourth in the “Enterprise” chain of command…. In her autobiography, Nichols wrote that Martin Luther King told her that she was advancing civil rights objectives, and convinced her not to quit when William Shatner was getting too obnoxious” …

But Ann Althouse complained on her blog yesterday,

They got away with putting a beautiful woman in a minidress in the background of as many shots as possible, but what did she do other than provide eye candy for the little boys and little men who watched? She was the secretary, seated at the switchboard, receiving calls.

Come on. The sexual politics was ridiculous, and blackness was the device to make it seem progressive, or at least to shut up the critics.

And I mean no disrespect to Ms. Nichols or to any other black actor who accepted a role constrained by stereotypes. There should have been more offers. There should have been more roles.

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Can Of Waning Work Week Ethics Worms: Race-Based Justice And Other Revolting Creatures [Corrected]

1. I hate to take pleasure in anyone’s career setbacks, but...the word that CNN’s unethical media watchdog, Brian Stelter, is about to get dumped is good news for everyone but him. It also means that CNN will have rid itself of its two most flagrantly partisan and dishonest talking heads, the other being Chris Cuomo. Stelter took over “Reliable Sources” from the flawed but qualified Howard Kurtz, who had covered media conduct for the Washington Post, and at least tried to be objective (and still does at Fox.) Stelter immediately transformed the Sunday show into a CNN-fawning, Fox News-bashing epitome of what a news ethics show must not be. The last hack standing among CNN’s worst is now Don Lemon, who because he is black, gay and cute apparently is immune from his just desserts. As Meat Loaf memorably observed, however, two out of three ain’t bad.

2. Wait, what? Tim Allen isn’t the voice of Buzz Lightyear in the new Pixar film? The Buzz origin film, which has Chris Evans as the new voice of the popular character from “Toy Story” 1-4 is already creating controversy because it features a lesbian kiss. You know: that’s Disney’s way now. The movie’s director Angus MacLane “explained” that the recasting was necessary because the new animated film called for a more serious Buzz. Does anyone believe that? Allen was replaced because he’s an outspoken conservative, and Disney/Pixar wanted a star who would vigorously defend lesbian smooches in a kids movie, because that is apparently it’s priority these days. If the director wanted Buzz to sound more serious, he could direct the voice actor to voice him that way.

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The Popular Culture Embraces Emerson College As Emerson College Embraces Anti-White Racism

As frequent readers here know, I frequently hear more ethics alarms in seemingly small things than in the major stories everyone else is talking about. This is one of those situations.

Boston’s Emerson College [full disclosure: my aunt got her speech degree there) is being promoted in the 4th season of Netflix’s cult fantasy/horror series “Stranger Things.” One of the shows heroines, Nancy Wheeler (played by Natalia Dyer), ostentatiously wears an Emerson T-shirt: she’s attending the liberal arts college in the 1980s, where the Stephen King-referencing show takes place. Now Emerson is cool. Copies of the shirt are being sold to support the victims’ families in Uvalde.

Emerson College is an enthusiastic agent of anti-white racist ideology that indoctrinates its students accordingly.

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Confused Sports Illustrated Raises The Fascinating Question: Can One Be Ethically Unethical?

Those are two of Sports Illustrated’s 2022 annual Swimsuit issue covers.

What’s going on here? It’s weird, whatever it is, and, of course, it has kicked off a culture war fight.

Conservative philosopher and pop guru Jordan Peterson tweeted regarding the flabby model on the left, “Sorry. Not beautiful. And no amount of authoritarian tolerance is going to change that.” This got him attacked online as a toxic warrior for white privilege and white supremacy.  Then Peterson lashed back, stating his objection as this:  “It’s a conscious progressive attempt to manipulate & retool the notion of beauty, reliant on the idiot philosophy that such preferences are learned & properly changed by those who know better.”

Conservative sports essayist Jason Whitlock begs to disagree. His take: Continue reading

Friday The 13th Ethics Nightcap, 5/13/2020: Kristol’s Integrity, Reiner’s Idiocy, Virginia Schools’ Incompetence

The first of several ethically dubious U.S wars began on this date in 1846, when President Polk asked for and received a declaration of war against Mexico. The U.S. wanted Mexico-owed territory: it’s pretty much as simple as that. In November of 1845, Polk sent  diplomat John Slidell to Mexico to seek boundary adjustments in return for the U.S. government’s settlement of the claims of U.S. citizens against Mexico, and also to buy California and New Mexico. When Mexico refused, the U.S. provoked a military response from the country when U.S. forces marched into the disputed territory at the Texas border, then used that as a pretense to fight. After two years of fighting, Mexico agreed to sell California and New Mexico after all, as well as to recognize the Rio Grande as the border with Texas.

1. Andrew Sullivan on Bill Kristol’s integrity deficit. George Will and Bill Kristol, once the King of Neocons and the proprietor of the conservative magazine “The Weekly Standard” are the two most prominent examples of Chablis Republicans who couldn’t bear an unmannerly low-class boor like Donald Trump bearing the conservative banner, so they abandoned all of the principles they spent their career advocating out of spite. Yes, I think that’s fair. In his substack newsletter, Andrew Sullivan correctly exposes the unethical stench of Kristol’s late-in-life conversion to wokeness, which he correctly diagnoses, along with Kristol’s character, thusly..

“[I]f you change your mind on an issue, at some point, explain why. What principles or ideas have you now abandoned? Which have you now embraced? What new facts have you learned? It’s a basic form of intellectual hygiene.

Which brings me to Bill Kristol…Now hugely popular among MSNBC Democrats, alert to racism and sexism and homophobia, Kristol has, these last few years, performed a spectacular ideological self-reinvention that makes J.D. Vance look like a man of unflinching consistency. And he has never even attempted to explain why…

Kristol is also now down with the “LGBTQIA+s”. He recently retweeted a critique of the Parental Rights bills across the country: “the pernicious intent of bills such as these: to stigmatize and shame gay and transgender people under the guise of protecting children from inappropriate conversations about sex.” Another Kristol retweet objected to the “grooming” meme: “Grooming is not acknowledging the existence of gay & transgender people to children.” Another retweet lamented that a Republican lost in Virginia because he favored marriage equality: “His sin was treating gays as humans worthy of equal respect and dignity… He wasn’t willing to be cruel to the Americans that Republican voters hate.”

Admirable in many ways. But again, is this the same Bill Kristol whose magazine, The Weekly Standard, was among the most fervent opponents of gay equality in America? In 1996, he published a piece arguing for a “reaffirmation by states of a sodomy law” if gay marriage advocates didn’t cut it out. The magazine sent out a letter on behalf of an anti-gay advertiser that raised the specter of “Radical Homosexuals infiltrating the United States Congress” with a plan to “indoctrinate a whole generation of American children with pro-homosexual propaganda.” …As I’ve said, it’s no sin, and even a virtue, to change your mind. But to have been so passionately on the extreme edge of one side of an issue he regarded as one of core morality, and then flip to the other side entirely — with absolutely no account of why — is not a mark of any halfway serious writer. To go from believing that gays need to be cured to Kristol’s current posture as defender of homos from Republican “hate” is amoral, unserious bullshit — both then and now…

The fake surety; the glibness; the ignorance; the opportunism…I guess there’s a kind of beauty to that. Once you get past the sickening, amoral, irresponsible unseriousness of it all.

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Observations On The Great “Libs Of TikTok” Affair And Doxxing Ethics

Let me begin by saying I hate this story. I hate it because it is, in part, web nerd inside baseball, and the answer to the retort, “Oh, who cares?” is hard to get out before the person asking has left to organize their sock drawer. Yet I have to write about it, not just because the conservative web is obsessed with it (that, and the fact that the mainstream media is ignoring it, thus branding the ugly mess as a “right wing story”—you know, a fantasy”) but because it explains just a bit more about how genuinely unscrupulous and ruthless the Warriors of Social Justice have become, at least to anyone who doesn’t know that already.

I’ll try to summarize the facts efficiently.

Ethics Alarms had posted a couple of the videos highlighted by the Twitter account Libs of TikTok, but I never focused on the account itself or its purpose, and because Twitter is an unethical platform that eats brains and censors opinions, I don’t hang out there. Ann Althouse is inexplicably fond of TikTok, which is a Chinese-owned social media platform on which members post videos. Now, thanks only to the current mess, I know that Libs of TikTok posts, often without comment, outrageous, crazy, hilarious or funny videos by radical progressives who are apparently unaware that their common sense, ethics alarms, and self-awareness have, in the immortal words of the Ghostbusters, “gone bye-bye.” This exposure holds the posters of these videos, as well as the ideologies that have rotted their brains, up for well-earned ridicule among the rational population. Progressives can’t stand that. The anonymous woman who posts as Libs of TikTok has also been a frequent guest of Tucker Carlson on Fox News, causing all Carlson-haters except critics like me to react to her mission like the hysterical lady from “The Birds”:

And so it was that the Washington Post—Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!—assigned or allowed its tech reporter, Taylor Lorenz (formerly of the New York Times, which fired her as Ethics Alarms discussed here) to write and have published a furious attack on a humorous, if horrifying, Twitter account by a regular human being, even as you or I, because it regularly held ridiculous progressives up to well-deserved exposure and ridicule. An excerpt:

Libs of TikTok reposts a steady stream of TikTok videos and social media posts, primarily from LGBTQ+ people, often including incendiary framing designed to generate outrage. Videos shared from the account quickly find their way to the most influential names in right-wing media. The account has emerged as a powerful force on the Internet, shaping right-wing media, impacting anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and influencing millions by posting viral videos aimed at inciting outrage among the right.

The anonymous account’s impact is deep and far-reaching. Its content is amplified by high-profile media figures, politicians and right-wing influencers. Its tweets reach millions, with influence spreading far beyond its more than 648,000 Twitter followers. Libs of TikTok has become an agenda-setter in right-wing online discourse, and the content it surfaces shows a direct correlation with the recent push in legislation and rhetoric directly targeting the LGBTQ+ community.

Now, a responsible, ethical editor would stop reading right there and send the proposed article to the shredder. What is doing all of the dastardly things Lorenz is shouting “Fire!” about is not the account, but the deranged people who post the videos highlighted by the account. Libs of TikTok doesn’t call for action, or legislation, or anything but a smile or a slap to the head from those who watch what she found. Her posts seldom, at least the ones I’ve seen, include any commentary at all.

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The Easter Ethics Basket: 4/17/2022. Yes, There Are Some Rotten Eggs…

Turner Movie Classics decided to kick off Easter with an abject lesson in art and life for us all. The movie is 1965’s “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” One of the very greatest of American film directors was George Stevens, who specialized in smart comedies (the Hepburn/Tracy classic “Woman of the Year”), light-hearted adventure films (“Gunga Din”) and musicals (“Swing Time,” the best in the Astaire-Rogers canon). Then, as wonderfully told in the documentary “Five Came Back,” he joined fellow directing greats John Ford, John Huston, William Wyler and Frank Capra in documenting World War II for the public, the troops, and posterity at the high cost, for all of them, of their emotional and mental health. (Wyler and Ford also suffered serious service-related injuries).

Stevens, though, drew the assignment of filming the horrors at the liberated extermination camps. When he returned to Hollywood, he didn’t feel light-hearted any more. From then on he directed dramas with serious themes, and they were his best films, like “Shane,” “Giant,” and “The Diary of Anne Frank.” Finally, he took on his most daunting challenge, filming the life of Christ with an all-star cast befitting of the project’s importance. “The Greatest Story Ever Told” is terrible; I find the film  unwatchable, and I’m not alone. Imagine the embarrassment of titling your movie “The Greatest Story Ever Told” and watching to turn out to be one of the worst movies ever made.

The bomb even has a special kick at the end when John Wayne appears as a Roman centurion staring up at Jesus on the cross, and says in the Duke’s trademark drawl, “Surely this man was the son of God!”

The Duke could shrug off, after all the resulting mockery; he had been more embarrassed playing Genghis Kahn throughout an entire film, Howard Hughes’ camp classic “The Conqueror.”

George Stevens, however, wasn’t used to bombing. The movie was a critical and box office bust, and the fiasco sent Stevens into retirement for five years. When he finally tried again, the director’s heart not only wasn’t light, it wasn’t in his work any more. “The Only Game in Town,” with Elizabeth Taylor and Warren Beatty, was an even bigger disaster than “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” though it’s easier to sit though. After all, it’s an hour shorter, and John Wayne doesn’t show up as a centurion.

The life lessons? Hubris and humility…don’t get cocky. Next: Nobody is too good or talented to fail, even at what they are best at. Finally: Aim for the stars, but be prepared to crash and burn.

1. Speaking of Stevens’ “The Diary of Anne Frank,” there was a weird episode on Ann Althouse’s blog. In one post she quoted David Mamet in his just-published book, as saying in part,

“Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich… took an adolescent girl’s diary and raped it into “The Diary of Anne Frank,” a sitcom….”

Anne has many and large holes in her cultural literacy, especially regarding film. Her commentary left it open to question whether she really believed that Hackett and Goodrich had written a comedy based on Frank’s diary (They wrote a Tony Award-winning drama as well as the acclaimed film based on it), and passed on several comments by readers who took Mamet literally as well. An example: “Joan Rivers did an interview once about what things should never be the fodder for humor….Perhaps, younger people today are distanced enough from it for a sitcom about a Jewish family hiding in an attic for over two years who are then found and killed by the Nazis to not be in poor taste.” Another  “Turning the Diary of Ann Frank into a comedy is a pretty loathsome thing to do. Things like Hogan’s Heroes worked because the Nazis were the main objects of the jokes. The victims of the Nazis aren’t.” There are others. Why would Ann let those comments through to make the commenters look like fools, especially since she helped lead them astray? Or is she, as I very much suspect, unfamiliar with the movie (which is moving and excellent)? Continue reading

Disney And The LGTBQ Activism Ethics Train Wreck: A Prelude [Corrected]

I have been intending to examine the Disney empire’s misbegotten entry into the battle over Florida’s recently passed “Parental Rights in Education” law for weeks, but postponed the project because it is too complicated to do correctly without involving other complex issues that are closely related to it. Unfortunately, these issues have proliferated during the delay.

For example, Florida is threatening to remove Disney’s special status that allowed it to operate Disney World as an autonomous municipal government because of the company’s political action. Is that kind of punishment for a political opposition ethical? Should Disney have such special status, regardless of why it is being threatened with its removal? If the special status should be removed anyway, does it matter if it is done in response to political speech?

Here’s another: Republicans in Congress are threatening to end Disney’s copyright on Mickey Mouse, also in response to its LBGTQ activism. But that copyright should have ended decades ago, and its artificial endurance has stifled creative works blocked by thousands of other drawn-out copyrights that aren’t Disney. Now I am dealing with copyright law policy, the importance of Disney to the culture, and what, if anything, the government should do to–what? Reward it? Strengthen it? Direct it? Control it?

The Disney LGTBQ advocacy issue also involves, as virtually every issue does now, media ethics, as almost all outlets other than Fox have a clear pro-LGTBQ bias. The New York Times reporter assigned to covering Disney and the Florida law controversy is Brooks Barnes, and he can’t be trusted. In an earlier story last month, the reporter wrote,

Earlier in the week, Mr. Chapek, the company’s chief executive, botched an internal email to Disney employees. He was seeking to explain Disney’s public silence on anti-L.G.B.T.Q. legislation in Florida that activists have labeled the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

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