The Entertainment Awards Catch-22

They never had any integrity, but before the Great Stupid, they could at least pretend. That was good enough to serve the real purpose of such awards and their televised ceremonies. Now, since they can’t even pretend, the awards have no purpose, and increasingly, no audiences.

The Grammys were the latest televised awards show debacle. That show’s rating hit an all-time low, following similar results for the Golden Globes, the Emmys, the Academy Awards (with this year’s new low on the horizon), and nobody ever watched the Tonys anyway. This result was preordained as soon as the organizations sponsoring and running the various awards competitions, enthusiastically applauded by the woke news media, decided to make honoring minority , especially black, performers a new mission.

By doing so, the organizations were admitting that the awards were never objective assessments of quality in the first place. Of course they weren’t, but the contrary illusion was crucial to the commercial mission of such awards: to promote the product and its creators. Movies that win Oscars used to get a big bump in ticket sales. Songs that win Grammys are downloaded more. The individual artists gain prestige that helps their careers. All of this is dependent on consumers buying the myth that the awards, any of them, are reliable measures of quality, and especially superior quality.

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And Still More From The Unethical World Of Academic Enforced Wokism…

Censored

1. The Georgetown Law Center scandal, the scandal being that the school has fired a professor as racist for saying out loud what the institution has known for decades (that admitting black students with significantly fewer markers of law school success that the rest of the student body means that a disproportionate number of affirmative action admittees end up on the low end of the grading curves–duh...) has been covered by none of the law profs I usually look to for their timely opinions on such matters. Even Prof. Turley, whose blog has been relentless in defending free speech on campus, has been silent. Ann Althouse, so far at least, has preferred to write about such throbbingly important topics as Eddie Izzard’s preferred pronouns. TaxProf Blog, by Pepperdine Law School Dean Paul Caron, and Prof. Jacobson’s Legal Insurrection have also, so far at least, not weighed in on the firing of adjunct Sandra Sellers and the suspension of adjunct David Batson.

What’s going on here? Please, please tell me they are not afraid of this topic. I am especially surprised at Althouse, who is retired, and has little to fear professionally.

2. At the University of South Alabama, three professors were suspended after a six-year-old photos “resurfaced” showing them in “racially insensitive” Halloween costumes. Then-Mitchell College of Business dean Bob Wood was dressed as a Confederate general, professors Alex Sharland and Teresa Weldy were seen posing with a noose and a whip…

Alabama Halloween

As they bounced around social media, the pictures prompted expressions of great harm. “That makes me feel like since other cultures are starting to come here, that they don’t want us here or we’re unwanted because they want it to stay a PWI or a predominately Caucasian institution,” said student Samantha Longmire.   “We have Black students on campus, how do you think that makes them feel? Do you care about your students,” said student Chante Moore.   

Seriously? Seriously? A Halloween costume as a Confederate soldier is a threat, but a vampire costume is fine? These rules don’t make any sense at all, and those rules weren’t even outlined vaguely in 2014. Shaland is dressed like an English judge—how does that have racial implications? He’s a hanging judge, presumably. What does the whip mean? I have no idea—it looks like a cat-o-ninetails to me. They used that on ships, not plantations. There’s one in “H.M.S. Pinafore”! Weldy doesn’t even seem to be in costume. Wood and Sharland, both tenured, apologized. They are cowards, and are enabling the erosion of our rights while supporting the rising totalitarian effort to control thought and expression. Weldy, who is not tenured, has refused to apologize.

Good for her.

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Ethics Verdicts: The Georgetown Law Professor’s Comments Were Careless But Not “Reprehensible,” And The Law Center Dean’s Statement Implying Her Comments Showed “Systemic Racism” Is Reprehensible…And False

This, I would remind you, is why the emphasis of the first Ethics Alarms post on this mess involving my former employer and alma mater was that GULC adjunct professor Sandra Sellers was culpable for the inevitable results of her unintentionally public candor for incompetently broadcasting her private observations over an online conferencing platform. I predicted that she was a goner once the school’s black student organization saw a grandstanding opportunity (and if it wrecks a lawyer’s reputation and career–so what? After all, she’s just another racist white bitch…), and I was right, in part because I know what the Law Center has become in recent years.

I also predicted a groveling apology from Sellers rather than the ringing defense of her observations that might have been helpful in both clarifying her comments and exposing the Law Center’s spectacular embrace of Rationalization #64, “It Isn’t What It is.” Poor, weak, technologically inept–but not wrong!–Sellers sent the Washington Post a copy of her grovel, which could have been drafted by a computer. She apologized for the “hurtful and misdirected remarks,” carefully chosen words indeed. Her remarks were “misdirected” because they were intended only for another professor, not the universe, and they were “hurtful” because they created a student relations crisis for Georgetown—which it has thoroughly botched. Sellers also said in the letter

“I would never do anything to intentionally hurt my students or Georgetown Law and wish I could take back my words. Regardless of my intent, I have done irreparable harm and I am truly sorry for this.”

Well, I give her some credit for declining to say that she didn’t mean what she said, or that what she said was untrue. Some. In essence she apologized for what I had written was the problem with her statement: it was careless to let it be witnessed by people who would—mostly deliberately— misinterpret it. Her carefully composed non-apology was clever, but it doesn’t help. The school’s statement, through GULC second-in-command Dean Trainor, was despicable—unfair and cowardly. It called the episode indicative of “structural issues of racism” (Translation: Sellers is a racist) and “explicit and implicit bias.”

Yes, a dean of a major law school declared on behalf of that law school that accurate observations involving student education are racist, presumably because they don’t advance a convenient but false progressive narrative. He also suspended the law professor Sellers was talking to because he didn’t meet his “bystander responsibility” and confront her over her non-racist statement as if it were racist.

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Introducing The “Technologically Inept Adjunct Professor With Politically Incorrect Opinions Principle”

Adjunct

This Georgetown Law Center adjunct professor is going to be fired, shunned, cancelled and otherwise ruined professionally and personally, and she has no excuses whatsoever.

The Ethics Alarms “Naked Teacher Principle” holds that ” a secondary school teacher or administrator (or other role model for children) who allows pictures of himself or herself to be widely publicized, as on the web, showing the teacher naked or engaging in sexually provocative poses, cannot complain when he or she is dismissed by the school as a result.” This does not mean that such a teacher necessarily should be dismissed, but that the teacher has no basis for claiming to be a victim. The conduct was foolish and irresponsible, and the repercussions predictable.

The newly minted “Technologically Inept Adjunct Professor With Politically Incorrect Opinions Principle” is based on similar calculations. As certain anti-woke statements and positions are getting people fired or canceled daily, with any diversion from the current racial spoils and “diversity” narrative being tarred as “racist,” for a professor at a law school, especially one as tainted by Leftist bias as Georgetown, to express such views over any form of electronic communications is almost grounds for involuntary commitment. Careless and reckless people shouldn’t teach law students. It doesn’t matter whether the statement involved expressed a valid and defensible observation: if it involves a tenet of woke cant and isn’t supportive, then the statement is an invitation to be cancelled. First Amendment? Doesn’t matter. Academic freedom? Irrelevant. Fairness? The Golden Rule? “There but for the grace of God…”? Risible.The third rail is known and recognizable, and you deliberately jumped on it assuming it wasn’t live?

Don’t come whining to me.

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Sunday Ethics Reinforcements, 2/7/21: The “Don’t Watch The Concussion Bowl” Edition

Brain Damage football

Ethics Alarms has been chronicling the mounting evidence that pro football condemns a large percentage of its players to future dementia and premature death for a long time, often in conjunction with what a Georgetown professor friend calls “The Concussion Bowl.” Many of those posts are here, under the CTE tag. Incredibly, the NFL has done little to stop the carnage, perhaps because seriously addressing the inherent damage to brains caused by a necessarily violent sport would end football as we know it, and that would cost owners, TV networks, colleges and merchandisers billions. Can’t have that.

Equally amazing, the public and the news media have allowed the NFL to get away with distracting from its unethical priorities with the flagrant and cynical virtue-signalling of pandering to Black Lives Matter. I’m pretty sure that when it is all tallied, the NFL will have killed more innocent black men by far than all the brutal police officers over the same period. But most people just don’t care. If they cared one hundredth as much about athletes getting permanent brain damage for their Sunday (Monday, Thursday) TV viewing as they do about a single ugly incident where an overdosing lifetime petty crook died under the knee of a Minneapolis cop, there would be action. Not riots and take-overs of public property, but serious, effective action, including safety regulations.. Football would have to change, evolve, or vanish. The public and the media (and government officials) don’t care, and neither do the NFL executives. If Colin Kaepernick had performed his on-field protests against CTE, he would have been suspended and eliminated from the sport faster than Deion Sanders running for the goal line.

Talk about conspiracies….

1. False Narrative Dept. Now dishonest anti-Trump propaganda is showing up on Turner Classic Movies, which has been generally exemplary in avoiding partisan pandering over the last four years. Today, Eddie Muller, TCM’s film noir maven, pointedly showed the 1950 move “The Killer Who Slaked New York,” about a potential smallpox outbreak that was shut down by New York City health officials in 1947. Ultimately only 12 people were infected, and the threat was a single contagious smallpox victim who had to be found and contained. As you can see, this is a perfect analogy for the Wuhan virus outbreak in 2020. Noting that New York City quickly launched a mass vaccination effort (because there was already a smallpox vaccine, another close parallel), Eddie raised an accusing eyebrow and said,voice dripping with contempt, “That’s how we did things then.”

It’s Eddie’s show. I don’t think he should be fired or suspended. He’s welcome to his ignorant and obnoxious opinion. But he’s part of a disinformation campaign and an effort to distort reality, He’s also annoying TCM’s generally mature audience members who have been paying attention, and who presumably watch old movies to get a break from political BS, not to be subjected to more of it by movie nerds driving out of their lane.

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Ethics Hero Prof. Dorian Abbot Rescued By Ethics Hero Robert Zimmer, University Of Chicago President

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Dorian Abbot, a professor of geology at the University of Chicago, was troubled when a colleague in his department gave an internal seminar that included the idiotic and unethical quote, “If you are just hiring the best people, you are part of the problem.” The setting being a university, Abbot set out to provoke some enlightened discussion on this assertion, creating a video slide show including graphics like the one above.

His primary messages in the presentation were, he wrote, that “we need to think through the consequences of diversity efforts on campus lest they harm promising scientists of all demographics; adjusting departmental demographics at elite universities doesn’t solve any problems, but may make some worse, and that ” the current academic climate is making it extremely difficult for people with dissenting viewpoints to voice their opinions.

Yes, “The Horror.” Such opinions obviously meant that the professor was evil and a danger to everyone on campus.

The professor writes,

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Cat Hands Ethics

witches hands

Having gone to great lengths to make comedy impossible, the political correctness police are now working to make drama impossible as well. Yesterday Ethics Alarms again visited this issue as it considered the brain-meltingly idiotic demands by progressives and group identity activists that only autistic performers should be cast as autistic characters. This is a subset of the disingenuous, contradictory and pragmatically impossible demand by the Army of the Woke that only performers with the same physical, gender, racial and ethnic characteristics should be cast in movies, plays and TV productions as characters with those traits….although minority actors should be cast as characters written as or traditionally played by whites whenever possible.

This nonsense has received new gusts of wind beneath its wings in The Great Stupid, which descended upon out culture hand-in-hand with the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck. It is old nonsense, though. The white cartoon voice actors who announced this year that they wouldn’t give voice to cartoon characters of color hailed from the same progressive nut house as those who criticized the “Lord of the Rings” movies (and others) for using special effects to allow actors of normal height portray fantasy dwarves, or who chased Dwayne Johnson away from his planned “John Henry” film because he’s not black enough.

Critics of film remake of “The Witches” have even bigger and more stupid metaphorical fish to fry, it seems. Now the attack is focused on the tendencies of human beings to be frightened or wary of those who look or act different from what they are used to, and, by extension, artists’ exploitation of that hard-wired human reaction to move, entertain, and communicate with audiences.

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Nicely Timed Ethics Quote Of The Month: John Cleese

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Monty Python legend John Cleese apparently has decided that to hell with it, he’s going to get himself canceled, and he doesn’t give a damn if he is. The tweet above was part of a long string of them tweaking transgender activists, J.K. Rowling haters and more, but his “woke joke” was especially apt.

The Australian singer Sia (never heard of her—you?) wrote and directed an soon-to-be released movie titled “Music” about a young woman with autism. Music is played by actress Maddie Ziegler, who is apparently not on the autistic spectrum.

The Horror.

The cyber-mob, almost all of which have never directed or cast anything, were outraged, with reactions like this from Irish actress Bronagh Waugh:

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Discrimination Against Asian American Students Is Discrimination Against Asian American Students: Why Is This Even Debatable?

The Trump administration has  fingered  Yale as discriminating against Asian-American and white applicants, just as an Asian-American student group had made the same claim in lawsuits against Harvard, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a recently filed case against the University of Texas at Austin. A federal judge ruled in Harvard’s favor last year, but i do not believe the decision will stand up on appeal, since it is dishonest and illogical. The Trump Administration is supporting the plaintiffs as it should…as everyone should.

I wrote about the Harvard decision here.  As you would expect, the analysis differs not at all from the ethics verdict regarding Yale’s discrimination, which is similarly indefensible. Also as you might expect, the “it isn’t what it is” rationalization (#64!) is rampant while the usual suspects try to defend it now, when the Black Lives Matter mob is demanding discrimination in favor of African Americans in all things—hiring, promotions, ring, college admissions, arrests, prosecutions, casting, honors, running for Vice-President—as if that is anything but racism, flat-out.

The New York Times–of course–is and will be embarking on a course of trying to obscure the obvious right and wrongs of the situation, as well as engaging in some ethics  jujitsu to make out the Trump Administration and anyone who thinks that no discrimination on the basis of race means no discrimination on the basis of race  as racist villains.  In this article, for example, the Times attempts or enables several dishonest arguments to discredit what should be self-evident, including… Continue reading

Common Sense Doesn’t Matter Either: The “Woke” Acting Profession Is Betraying Audiences And Dooming Itself (Part I: “The Simpsons”)

Item: Fox’s apparently immortal animated series The Simpsons  released a statement last month regarding casting for non-white characters, including  black characters like  Dr. Julius Hibbert: “Moving forward, ‘The Simpsons’ will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters.”

This, stupid as it is, follows the non-logic of recent white actresses who dropped their gigs as the voices of grayish-brown inked “mixed-race” cartoon characters. How will that “only people of the same race can play roles of characters of that race” be reconciled with the objective of  non-traditional casting, which was devised in part (many decades ago) to open up more opportunities for black and minority actors, allowing them to take on roles written as white?

It can’t. It’s as simple as that. The two approaches eventually clash, and are mutually exclusive. “The Simpsons” policy is wrong and destructive in every conceivable way, and its ethical values, as in competent, fair or responsible, are non-existent.

  • If white actors can only play white characters, then white characters cannot be played (or voiced) by black performers. Oh, I’m sure that while in the grip of fear during the George Floyd Freakout and overwhelmed with the desire to signal virtue to one’s peers, white performers will tolerate such an obviously unfair and absurd double standard for a while, but show business is a brutal and competitive field, and the vast majority of actors of any color have scant financial resources and no job security. The arrangement being pushed by black performers and activists as they sense a window of opportunity created by the Freak-out and the concomitant intimidation of decision-makers will eventually engender resentment and conflict. If the BLM lackeys in the entertainment field really think that this double-standard “solution” to “systemic racism”—which means installing a new system of systemic anti-white racism—will prevail, they are deluded.
  • Moreover, the idea is anti-art, as is the “non-traditional casting as affirmative action” fallacy. If the performing arts aren’t a meritocracy driven by the market—does the performance entertain, or doesn’t it?—then they are doomed. Even with all the brainwashing and bullying to come, the public will never have enough people who will like a show (or a novel, or a painting, or a song)—or pay money to see it— based on its demographics and diversity rather than the quality of the performances
  • To “The Simpsons” and similar products, if the authentically black voice of Dr. Hibbert isn’t as funny, well-timed and deft as white Harry Shearer’s performance, the character won’t be as effective.

I look at all productions this way: a perfect show has 1000 points. Everything that isn’t perfect loses points for that production—a bad accent here, an ill-fitting costume there, missed lines–they all count.  One flaw that loses a few points won’t kill the show; it might not even be noticed. But all of those lost points add up, and when the points sink below a certain level, the production is no longer viable.

“The Simpsons” is voluntarily giving up points, which is simply bad show business and terrible art. If Harry Shearer is the best voice for the Simpsons’ family doctor, then it can’t matter what color he is. The audience doesn’t care.  Every show loses points no matter how perfect it tries to be; giving them up intentionally is unethical, because the artist’s duty is to present the best, most popular and most profitable  work possible, not to meet EEOC quotas.

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