On Rasmussen’s Terrible Poll, Conservative Media Spin, And Scott Adams’ Self-Cancellation

Ugh. Polls.

Some misguided fool at the conservative polling operation Rasmussen Reports convinced the gang to ask 1,000 randomly chosen Americans two questions:

1. Do you agree or disagree with this statement:  “It’s OK to be white”?

2. Do you agree or disagree with this statement:  “Black people can be racist, too”?

Question #1 is unforgivable—incompetent, irresponsible, unethical. “It’s OK to be white” was designed as parallel “gotcha!” linguistic retort to “Black lives matter,” an equivalent to “When did you stop beating your wife?” What does it mean? Agreeing with “It’s OK to be white” might mean, “I reject the premise behind Black Lives Matter and Critical Race Theory!” It also could mean, “Of course it’s okay to be white; any other position is racist.”

Disagreeing with the statement might mean, “I see what you’re doing there: trying to weasel out of white society’s obligation to recognize the intrinsic injustices it inflicts on black citizens!” Or it might mean, “I hate those honky bastards! They’re all the same: evil.” Without defining terms, no poll is legitimate.

Rasmussen should be ashamed of itself.

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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

“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?

Anyone?

I don’t like being shouted at by cartoon characters. Even if they had a valid point, my response to this kind of assaultive advocacy is, has ever been, and always will be…

Bite me.

Why Our Culture Needs Old Movies

Typical of the free-association manner in which my brain works, a fatuous essay by a New York Times pundit about a subject he doesn’t understand (but I do)–performing—excavated an ethics memory from my childhood that hadn’t sparked a neuron in decades.

Frank Bruni, for some reason, felt it was necessary to re-hash the ancient debate over whether a movie star is really a skilled “actor,” and can be deserving of an Oscar over “real” actors. Naturally, his target was Tom Cruise and his performance in “Top Gun: Maverick,” the most popular and successful movie of the year. I don’t feel like arguing with Bruni over this; I’ve had the debate too many times. (No, Cruise isn’t going to get an Oscar for this sequel, but he has given Oscar-worthy performances before, because nobody can play Tom Cruise as well as he can). I’ll just give the short version: if an actor plays a part better than any other actor could, it is irrelevant that he can’t play any other part. As a director, I’ll cast a charismatic one-trick pony who is perfect for a particular role over a brilliant, versatile artist who could play Hamlet to cheers every time.

But that is neither here nor there. Here is there: Bruni’s discourse made me think of Spencer Tracy, a movie star and superb actor who had a wonderfully dismissive view of his own field, and then “Edison the Man,” the 1940 biopic, starring Tracy, about Thomas Edison. It was a black and white film that my father made a point of having me see. That film sparked my early interest in Edison, American inventors, technology and extraordinary people through history.

One scene in the movie, however, made a special impression. Edison and his research lab have been laboring on the creation of a practical incandescent light bulb day and night for months. Finally they think they have the right design, and the tungsten filament bulb to be tested is carefully assembled. The new bulb is handed to Jimmy, a teen who does odd jobs at the laboratory, and he dashes across the facility to give it to Edison. In his excitement, Jimmy trips and falls, smashing the precious bulb. Edison’s crew is furious; Edison reproaches the lad. Jimmy is devastated and inconsolable. When Edison’s men finally craft a replacement bulb, Edison calls for Jimmy and give him custody of the bulb, and asks him again to carry it to its destination on the other side of the building. Jimmy, striding carefully and slowly this time, completes his historic task.

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Arrogant, Deluded And Ignorant Is No Way To Go Through Life, Jennifer Lawrence…

Jennifer Lawrence is a charismatic, versatile, talented movie star, but someone misled her into believing that everything that pops into her head is worth saying, and it isn’t. In this case, it wasn’t just banal or gratuitous progressive blather points, but a wildly false and disrespectful over-praising of her own significance at the expense of actresses that she ought to be honoring rather than insulting.

In a recent interview with Variety magazine, the star of the “Hunger Games” movies (beginning in 2012), “Silver Lining Playbook” and other films said,

“I remember when I was doing ‘Hunger Games,’ nobody had ever put a woman in the lead of an action movie because it wouldn’t work. We were told … girls and boys can both identify with a male lead, but boys cannot identify with a female lead.”

If you don’t know your film history, don’t make statements about film history. It makes one look like a conceited fool, as the social media mob rushed to inform Lawrence. Continue reading

Best of Ethics Award 2022, Best Ethics TV Show: “The Good Fight”

Ethics TV shows, once, long ago, a major segment of popular television fare, are an endangered species. When I last gave out this award six years ago, the winner was the zombie apocalypse AMC hit “The Walking Dead.” Eventually TWD itself became a zombie; if I had named a winner of the award in recent years, based on what I saw, it probably would have been old standby and previous champion “Blue Bloods” on CBS, or as I call it, “The Conflict of Interest Family.” To the great credit of Tom Selleck and the writers, it’s still a strong ethics show in its 13th season; brave too (imagine: in 2022, a pro-police drama about a devout Catholic family that meets for Sunday dinner every week!). But I’ve found—finally–a better one.

And if I had been more alert, I would have found it six years ago. The show is “The Good Fight,” a spin-off of “The Good Wife” which Ethics Alarms discussed frequently during its run. I was a bit jaded after “The Good Wife,” because, as good legal series often do if they go on too long, it began resorting to outlandish plot devices as new ideas became harder to come by. Maybe that’s why I was so late checking in on “The Good Fight.” The series picks up the story of Christine Baranski’s character in “The Good Wife,” and streams on Paramount Plus, which I only recently subscribed to. This is the show’s final season, its sixth, but I’m starting from the beginning.

If the next five season raised no ethics issues at all—an impossibility with ethics-obsessed creator-writers Robert and Michelle King in charge—“The Good Fight” would still be the smartest and most sophisticated legal ethics drama since “The Defenders.” You can watch it here.

There are a lot of legal dramas on streaming services right now: “The Lincoln Lawyer,” “The Firm” (based on the John Grisham novel and film, with Grisham producing), “Partner Track,” “Extraordinary Attorney Woo,” the now-completed “Better Call Saul,” and the extremely entertaining if over-the-top drama “Goliath,” starring Bill Bob Thornton as an alcoholic, depressive, idealistic litigator. If I had to recommend one over the rest, “The Good Fight” would be my choice.

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‘HA! You Fell For The Trap, White Boy!’

I almost made this an Ethics Quiz, but then decided that there is only one ethical answer.

Star high school quarterback Marcus Stokes posted a video of himself in a car singing a rap song that used the term “niggas.” Or maybe it was “niggers.” We can’t find out, you see, because our infantile, unethical news media will only write  that he said the “N-word,” and the video has been deleted. Journalism!

Stokes’ video caused the University of Florida to rescind its scholarship offer. Stokes is white; there is little question that if he were the right color, singing the song and posting it would not have raised any issues at all. But as Yahoo!’s observes, “Saying the N-word as a white person goes into another territory,” at least in the hypocritical, race-obsessed worlds of sports and academia. Continue reading

Iconic Movie Hero Ethics: The Humiliation Of Indiana Jones

One upon a time, Hollywood showed respect to its greatest movie heroes. They deserved it, after all. We never had to see what became of Rick Blaine as he battled the Nazis. We never had to watch Scarlet chase Rhett. Nobody made as watch the plucky Hickory High School basketball team try to hold on to its title the next year after its miracle triumph. Hollywood got greedy (greedier), though, as imaginations ran out and audiences looked elsewhere for their entertainment. And thus the sublime ending of “Rocky” (“There ain’t gonna be no rematch!” “Don’t want one!”) was eroded and superseded by endless inferior sequels. “Star Wars” ended with a jubilant celebration of victory over the Empire and the characters happy, safe, and young, but studio finances dictated that it all had to be diluted with inferior and derivative prequels and sequels, with audiences being tortured by aging husks of Leia, Luke and Han Solo, instead of allowing them to be preserved in our memories as immortal, like legends should.

Now it’s Indiana Jones’ turn. Spielberg and Lucas already set up the perfect farewell for Indy in the third of the original trilogy, flawed as it was. We saw him ride off with his father and Marcus Brody into the sunset after drinking from the Holy Grail, which should have conferred eternal youth. Perfect!

They couldn’t let it go, though, or the studio couldn’t, or Spielberg’s alimony, or something. So we had to watch, many years later, an over-the-hill Indy in a jumping-the-shark fourth film that George Lucas signaled would stretch out the franchise ad infinitum by symbolically passing The Hat on to Indiana’s newly discovered son, the then young and promising Shia LaBeouf.

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Latest Development In The Search For The Greatest Stupid During The Age Of The Great Stupid: On Broadway, A “Good Racism” Classic!

I have come to the realization that those apathetic, half-awake Americans who shrug off the creeping fanaticism of the antiracism, “diversity, equity and inclusion” mob must not follow developments in the show business and entertainment world, for there the most throbbingly stupid and hypocritical outbreaks of The Great Stupid inevitably occur.

Last month, the ridiculous non-traditional casting version of “1776” opened. Ethics Alarms has discussed it a couple of times: the conceit of casting the Founding Fathers as female, non-binary, trans colonials of color is a naked “Hamilton” rip-off that mocks the show and our history for political grandstanding. As anyone could have predicted, it stinks, though the naturally sympathetic and woke theatrical critic community didn’t have the guts or integrity to say so outright. No, most of them just issued mealy-mouthed deflections like the Times critic, who wrote in part after delivering the mandatory “what a good idea!” virtue-signaling about what was always, absent a miracle, a wretched idea…

….the performances are so vastly histrionic and unchecked by the social situation (this is Congress, after all) that they seem inside-out….It does not help that the new arrangements and orchestrations, aiming to refresh the songs’ profiles in the way the casting is meant to refresh the story, merely make them muddy — and make many of the lyrics unintelligible….

When performers mime the emotions we should be having, the storytelling contract has been broken….What a wasted opportunity!…Instead we get subtracted value. I don’t mean for the cast, who deserve the opportunity, or even for the theater as an industry and an ecosystem….But underlining one’s progressiveness a thousand times, as this “1776” does, will not actually convey it better; rather it turns characters into cutouts and distracts from the ideas it means to promote…. theater makers should have enough faith in the principles of equity and diversity to let them speak for themselves. Are they not, as someone once put it, self-evident?

But of course equity and diversity are not self-evident, and the complete confusion over casting ethics demonstrates this fact beautifully. Let’s see: BIPOC performers can be cast as anyone, regardless of color, ethnicity, gender or race, but white performers can only play white characters. Turning a white fictional character black is to be desired whenever possible (Tangent: My CVS is filled with black Santa dolls and images. Where are the Hispanic and Asian Santas?) but making a fictional character of color (a FCOC) white is “white-washing,” and racist. “The Simpsons” won’t allow white vocal actors to do the voices of a black doctor or an Indian 7-11 owner, but Will Smith can voice a Middle Eastern genie without controversy. Ariel the Little Mermaid will be sung by a black actress; true, they turned Arial black first, but don’t think the same actress wouldn’t  have voiced her if they hadn’t: Diversity! Inclusion! Meanwhile, Tom Hanks said it was wrong for him to be cast as a gay man, though gay men portray about 50% of all the heterosexuals you see on screen and stage.

Clear? Of course not! These aren’t rules or principles: this is racially motivated Calvinball, compensatory racism and related discrimination under the cloak of imaginary virtue.

And yet we hadn’t reached peak stupid yet. Is this latest episode it? Probably not, but behold: Continue reading

Oh! Now After Eight Years Of Accusing A Renowned Law Professor And Lawyer Of Sexual Assault, You Now Think You “May Have Been Mistaken!” Sure, OK!

Wait, what?

Someone here has been very unethical, and probably criminal. I wonder who?

From the New York Times:

Virginia Giuffre, a victim of Jeffrey E. Epstein who for years maintained that the law professor Alan Dershowitz had sexually assaulted her when she was a teenager, settled a defamation lawsuit against Mr. Dershowitz on Tuesday and said that she might have “made a mistake” in accusing him.

In a joint statement announcing the settlement, Ms. Giuffre said, “I have long believed that I was trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein to Alan Dershowitz. However, I was very young at the time, it was a very stressful and traumatic environment, and Mr. Dershowitz has from the beginning consistently denied these allegations.

“I now recognize I may have made a mistake in identifying Mr. Dershowitz,” her statement said.

The joint statement announced the end of litigation between Ms. Giuffre and Mr. Dershowitz — who had also sued her — as well as of two other lawsuits between Mr. Dershowitz and the lawyer David Boies that stemmed from Ms. Giuffre’s accusation….

The terms of Ms. Giuffre’s deal with Mr. Dershowitz were not immediately clear on Tuesday, though the statement and the court filing said that no payments were made by any of the parties.

I don’t understand this at all. Is there any doubt that there is a lot, including a secret, back room agreement, that we are not being told about? My mind is still a bit foggy, so I can’t recall all of the movies I have seen where crucial witnesses in mysteries, crimes and conspiracies making almost the exact same statement Virginia Giuffre is quoted as making, recanting previous accusations and assertions they appeared to be absolutely certain of but suddenly had second thoughts after finding their dog hanging from a tree, or a horse head in their bed, or receiving a third party check for a lot of money. But boy, there are a lot of them. Continue reading