Comment of the Day (1): “Ethics Observations On Beyonce’s Super Bowl 50 Halftime Performance”

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Late last night produced not one but two clear-cut Comments of the Day. This is the first; another will be along any minute now.

Responding to the post about Beyonce’s use of the Super Bowl halftime show to glamorize black liberation politics, Isaac argued that while the violent and loud radicals and revolutionaries get all the headlines, it is the quiet, law abiding, dedicated “squares”—haven’t heard that word for a long time!—that get the job done. This is essentially the opposite of Clarence Darrow’s conviction that it is the law-breaking revolutionaries who cut through the Gordian Knot of the unacceptable status quo. The man he extolled in a speech making that case was murderer and terrorist John Brown—who would have loved the Black Panthers. [I was just now trying to give you a link to Darrow’s amazing speech about Brown, and can’t find one. Shame on you, Internet! It’s in my book, though…you can get a used one for less than 3 bucks…]

Here is Isaac’s Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Observations On Beyonce’s Super Bowl 50 Halftime Performance:

The bogus assumption often made is that the hippy/counterculture movement somehow brought about civil rights, since those two things happened at roughly the same time. This is wrong and those people should feel bad. It was decades of hard work by a whole lot of “squares” and a lot of stoically religious people, and the type of nonviolent and extremely effective form of resistance and racial healing preached by Dr. King that got the job done, at great personal cost. The stoner crowd and the violent, revolutionary factions like the Black Panthers were almost entirely counterproductive, but a lot sexier. So they are the ones romanticized today. Beyonce isn’t going to do a nostalgic dance number with Black women dressed as Baptists in flowery hats.

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Ethics Observations On Beyonce’s Super Bowl 50 Halftime Performance

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On the eve of her Super Bowl 50 half time show performance, Beyoncé released  “Formation,” a video full of references to Black Lives Matter tropes and propaganda, including “Hand Up! Don’t Shoot!”  (You can view it here. The earlier version of this post had an unofficial version: I apologize for the error.) Then in her portion of the Super Bowl 50 halftime show, the pop star gave the sold-out stadium and world-wide audience a live version of the video, including  backup dancers wearing Black Panther berets who formed  an X, apparently alluding to black Muslim activist Malcolm X, and raised their fists in the “black power” salute. African-Americans activists wrote that they saw the performance as a tribute to the 50th Anniversary, not of the Super Bowl, but to the Black Panthers.

The halftime show was part of a marketing plan messaging across multiple platforms, from social media to mainstream media. Once the show was seen in the context of the more explicit video, a controversy emerged, just as Beyoncé ‘s marketing geniuses hoped it would. Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani was among the vocal critics, calling the show “outrageous” said telling Fox News,”This is football, it’s not Hollywood, and I thought it was really outrageous that she used it as a platform to attack police officers who are the people who protect her and protect us, and keep us alive.”  Protests are planned at NFL headquarters.

What’s going on here?

1. Stipulated: Beyoncé’s sole intentions are to sell, make money, and get buzz. If she has a genuine political motive, and I doubt it, it is secondary to the good ol’ profit-making motive that has made her a mega-millionaire. She and her husband Jay-Z have been linking their brand to Black Lives Matter because they see profit in it, that’s all. Is it crass and ethically inert? Sure it is…just like the music business and the rest of show business. Is it particular disgusting, at a time of dangerous racial division in this country heightened by liars, crooks, complicit activists and cynical politicians, to try to make money by glamorizing it? Yes indeed, but the Julie Principle needs to be applied here. Fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly, and if you are paying any attention to people like Beyoncé, you can’t be shocked or overly angry at them when they show that their motives are purely non-ethical at all times. Yes, Beyoncé’s conduct was culturally irresponsible and unethical. “This is my shocked face:”

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2. That said, hijacking the Super Bowl halftime show to make a race-baiting, divisive, anti-police demonstration out of what is supposed to be a unifying, fun, family-friendly cultural event, by extolling the racist Black Lives Matter, the criminal and racist Black Panthers, and destructive lies like “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” is indeed outrageous. The stunt deserves every bit of criticism it has recieved and more. Continue reading

D.C. Ethics: Q: What’s Worse Than Delta Airlines Dumping Passengers For The Convenience of The University Of Florida Basketball Team? A: American University Ruining A Ballet School’s “Nutcracker” For The Convenience Of Chris Matthews

The victims of Washington DC values and priorities. AU must be so proud...

The victims of Washington DC values and priorities. AU must be so proud…

Full disclosure: In the past I have been an American University (in Washington, D.C.) employee, teaching legal ethics for a couple of semesters at its Washington College of Law. If I was still an adjunct professor there, I would resign and lead a protest against the despicable, callous, unethical actions of  A.U administrators, and, as I will explain later, I know just how to do it. Later. First, the tale of AU’s disgrace:

President Obama, understandably desperate to address his falling poll numbers in the wake of the dawning realization that 1) his administration is a mess, 2)  he doesn’t really do anything, 4) the health care law he has been selling is dysfunctional, dictatorial and expensive and 5) he lies, is hustling to shore up his base, conveniently identified as anyone who can watch his 24-hour cable shill, MSNBC, for five minutes without laughing or getting nauseous. Thus his staff whistled up loyal sycophant Chris Matthews, he of the “thrill up my leg” Obama fixation, for an exclusive interview this week. This is a blatant political appearance, make no mistake about it. MSNBC is not a legitimate news organization, is intentionally and by design biased in favor of all things related to President Obama, and in Matthews, the President could not possibly have a less objective or more fawning foil. Continue reading