Tag Archives: Academy Awards

Seth MacFarlane’s Outrageous Oscar Mistake (At Least, I Hope It Was A Mistake)

"The Family Guy" in a typical moment of sensitivity.

“The Family Guy” in a typical moment of sensitivity.

The viewing public was severely divided regarding “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane’s performance as Oscar host, with approximately half appreciating his trademark juvenile and politically incorrect schtick (and being impressed that the guy can sing and dance rather well too), and the rest, including the majority of TV critics, finding him boorish, amateurish and unfunny. Personally, I thought he did a reasonably competent job in an impossible assignment (unless, it seems, you are Johnny Carson or Bob Hope, who are long gone, or Billy Crystal, who is seriously past his pull date), made more so by the misconceived show he had to host.

Then I read Katie McDonough’s essay in Salon. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Health and Medicine, Humor and Satire

“Argo” and the Horrible Thought

Thanks a bunch, Ben.

Thanks a bunch, Ben.

“Argo” prompted a disturbing thought that has been haunting me since I saw the picture. I am sorry that I had the thought, and hoped that it had been successfully banished by time and hope. Unfortunately, the juxtaposition of “Argo” winning the Best Picture Oscar combined with the inappropriate and intrusive appearance of Michelle Obama to announce it, complete with a politics-tinged speech that was as gratuitous as it was manipulative, caused that thought to begin burning in my brain again. Alas, here it is.

At the conclusion of “Argo,” former President Carter is heard emphasizing the obvious, that in 1980 he would have loved to have taken credit for the audacious  rescue of the six American Embassy workers from Iran that was engineered by his CIA. But, Carter says, do so would have endangered the remaining hostages, and though it would have helped his politically besieged Presidency (which was lost to Ronald Reagan that same year, in part because of Carter’s perceived weakness in handling the hostage crisis), giving all of the credit to Canada was the right and responsible thing to do.

I am no admirer of Jimmy Carter’s policies, personality, Presidency or leadership. He is, however, an ethical man. He was President before the hyper-partisanship that has rotted our politics, before the “perpetual campaign” style of leadership launched by Clinton, and before every act by every main stage player in Washington appeared to be dictated by the need to hold power, rather than by the needs of the people. My horrible thought is that I believe the current President and his  Machiavellian political advisors would not have done as Carter did, if the “Argo” scenario played out in 2012, as that Presidential election approached. This White House, facing the prospect of defeat, would find a way to leak its participation in the successful rescue, judging its retention of power a higher goal than protecting the hostages that may well have died anyway.

I wish I didn’t have this thought, but I cannot banish it. The unseemly chest-thumping and credit-grabbing over the killing of Bin Laden, the leaking of details about the deliberations leading to it, the deceptive handling of the Benghazi disaster, and yes, the inability of the President’s political strategists to resist attaching the President or his wife to anything remotely positive—even the Academy Awards— while refusing to accept responsibility for any mistake, miscalculation or failure (See Bob Woodward on the disinformation campaign regarding the looming sequester, beginning with Obama’s outright lie in the third Presidential debate, “The sequester is not something that I’ve proposed.”), all have me convinced that the days when we can trust a President to risk his own grip on power for the good of the country are gone, perhaps forever.

As I said, it is a horrible thought, and I fervently wish I didn’t have it. I want to trust and admire our nation’s leaders, the President most of all. But the leaders of both parties have earned this level of distrust, and I see no signs that they are capable of making that horrible thought, and other too, go away.

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Government & Politics, History, Leadership

Natalie Portman Ethics, Part II: The Body Double

This looks like Oscar, but it's really his body-double, Chip.

Sarah Lane, Natalie Portman’s Designated Ballet Dancer in “Black Swan, ” has caused a controversy by revealing that it was her, not Natalie (okay, maybe Natalie’s head on Sarah’s body), in some/many/most of the dance sequences. This has caused some commentators to suggest that Portman’s Academy Award was based on a sham. The film’s PR flacks made a big deal out of how Portman, with no more ballet training that your sister, worked so hard to acquire professional level dancing skills. Could this have made the difference in the Academy’s decision? Continue reading

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Liar of the Week: Mike Huckabee, as He Fails The Integrity Test

A Mike Huckabee advisor?

…and also the courage test.

Speaking unpopular truths and backing down once they prove unpopular is worse than what most politicians do, which is to avoid speaking the truth at all. In Huckabee’s case, he compounded the villainy by not only backing down, but by absurdly lying about what he had said, despite the fact that his words were recorded and his meaning was clear as a bell.

Huckabee, in case you don’t follow the remarks of former state governors under the delusion that he can they can be  elected President, had criticized Oscar winner Natalie Portman’s proud single mother-to-be act, saying, Continue reading

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Ethics Hero: Kirk Douglas

Kirk Douglas: Hero

Amazingly, some bloggers and critics actually called Kirk Douglas’s appearance as an Oscar presenter last night (it was he who announced Melissa Leo’s win, which she instantly turned into an Oscar low-light) hard to watch and even “creepy.” Sometimes you just have to shake your head and wonder how people’s perception gets so warped.

The 96-year-old stroke victim strode to the stage without vanity, fear or hesitation. He flirted, he joked, he took full advantage of his richly-earned status as a Hollywood legend, the last of the great movie men’s men, and indomitable survivor. And he dared to play with the faux suspense of the event, demonstrating with a wink and grand humor that he, better than most, knows how little awards mean compared to the guts of life. Continue reading

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Ethics Dunce: Melissa Leo

Give the soap to Melissa, Ralphie...

That certainly settled it: Melissa Leo is an inexcusable boor after all.

Winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, Leo blurted out, “Really, really, really, WOW” and then,“When I watched, it looked so fucking easy!”

And thus do tasteless, disrespectful, uncivil so-called professionals degrade our language, public standards of decency and respect for others. Continue reading

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Oscar Ethics: Was Melissa Leo’s Campaign Wrong?

On a difficult day, I am not up to writing about heavy ethics issues, so instead I will comment on an ethics controversy that is as inconsequential as possible—one involving the Oscars.

Melissa Leo, a front-running Best Supporting Actress nominee for her role in “The Fighter,” courted controversy by violating one of the Academy Awards’ unwritten rules: “Don’t promote yourself for an Award—it’s tacky!” Leo personally placed Hollywood trade ads showing her in full glamor mode, a sharp contrast to her character in “The Fighter.” The text simply said “Consider,’ then below that, “Melissa Leo,” and in small print off to the side, the web address http://www.melissaleo.com. She argued that she needed to promote herself because her competitors were getting the benefit of big studio publicity, while she was not. Continue reading

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