It didn’t happen here, but I could easily see it happening here, and…
It’s really, really, really stupid.
A bit of background: Samuel Beckett, the late Irish novelist and playwright of Theater of the Absurd fame ,best known for his minimalist drama and “Waiting For Godot” in particular, was a cantankerous old coot who didn’t trust directors (with good cause, say I), and directed them in his texts to change neither lines nor character, or risk legal action. Edward Albee was similarly strict on this point, having seen what happens to plays in the public domain (like Shakespeare’s works) when far less talented “artists” decide to make them “relevant.” So if you are going to produce a Beckett play, it’s Beckett’s way or the metaphorical highway.
Oisín Moyne, a fellow countryman of Beckett, was directing “Waiting for Godot” in the Netherlands and auditioned only men for the all-male cast of characters, as he was legally and artistically obligated to do. the college production been in rehearsals since November and was due to be presented at the University of Groningen’s Usva student cultural center in March. (Don’t ask me how or why it would take more than three months to rehearse this play, which primarily involves two guys sitting around talking, but never mind.) Continue reading →
The organizers of an international figure skating event in Finland last week decided to show their oneness with the times, known at Ethics Alarms as “The Great Stupid,” by featuring Markku-Pekka Antikainen in the opening ceremony of the ISU European Figure Skating Championships. Antikainen is a 59-year-old man who at age 50 decided to “transition” and become a female figure skater. He would have been just as successful aspiring to be a bunch of carrots. His skating name, which he will presumably use when he is featured in “Disney on Ice” (can you really say with confidence that that won’t happen?), is Minna-Maaria Antikainen. Continue reading →
A LinkedIn posting by HR&A Advisors, a TriBeCa-based real estate consultancy, asked job applicants for a $121,668- to $138,432-a-year position to apply while removing “all undergraduate and graduate school name references” from their résumés, citing only the degree itself. Apparently this policy applies to all HR&A job postings, which the company says is part of its “ongoing work to build a hiring system that is free from bias and based on candidate merit and performance.”
Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker, who absent an epic upset by the inferior Phillies is about to cap off his long and illustrious baseball career with a World Series championship, blundered into a rare (for him) and foolish outburst sparked by the news that there are no “American-born black players” competing in the World Series. You see, there are black players, a lot of them, on the Astros and Phillies, and many of them are American citizens, but they were born south of that almost non-existent U.S. border, so I guess they don’t count. So Dusty dusted off his racial resentment, and announced in response to being informed about this carefully layered statistic, “Nah, don’t tell me that. That’s terrible for the state of the game. Wow! Terrible. “Quote me. I am ashamed of the game.”
And I’m ashamed of you, Dusty. That’s an ignorant and unfair comment. It’s not as if baseball wouldn’t sign a trained squid to a mega-million dollar contract if he hit like Aaron Judge, the assumed American League Most Valuable Player this season. (Incidentally, Judge is biracial, and would be counted as black if he decided to “identify” as such.) Is Dusty ashamed of Judge? There are many reasons the percentage of black players has fallen in recent decades. The 2022 percentage of African-Americans was about 7%, or half the proportion in the population generally. The main reason for this is not any racial discrimination by baseball, but because of the choices made by black athletes and social forces affecting them.
I’ve written about this nonsense before, maybe too much, but I’m a stage director, dammit, and its important to me. Not unlike other realms I travel in, theater and show business generally is polluted by a lot of terrible ideas advocated by a lot of influential people whose intellect and breadth of experience is not sufficient for the amount of credibility they carry.
These are artists whose mission is creating entertaining and compelling theater, yet their craving for acceptance in the knee-jerk wokeness-obsessed bubble in which they work causes them to undermine their art for approval from fanatics who couldn’t care less about drama.
Oh, “not acceptable” to who, you pathetic, grovelling fool? Audiences? I doubt it. The Wicked Woke are overwhelmingly from recent generations who are as likely to go to live theater, especially Shakespeare, as they would a Gregorian Chant concert. The playwright, one of the most freakishly perceptive human beings ever birthed? No, he would recognize your silly prejudice as the anti-artistic rot it is, and mock it with eloquence I can’t possibly approach. Continue reading →
Maybe this kind of thing bothers me more than it bothers most people, but the internal contradictions and racial issues pretzeling in a recent Times puff piece on Marvel’s latest superhero film, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” had my brain short-circuiting like one of those computers that Captain Kirk would disable on “Star Trek” by feeding them self-contradictory statements.
Consider these quotes from the article, which was authored by Robert Ito. Apparently diversity means that only Asian American reporters can write about Asian-American super-hero movies. Or do you think it was just a coincidence? Sure it was. But I digress…
“Known property or not, the movie is a cause for celebration: It’s Marvel’s first and only superhero film starring an Asian lead, with an Asian American director and writer, and based on a character who was actually Asian in the original comic.”
Why is any of this true? Why does the race of a comic book character matter at all? Does race make the character of the story more entertaining? To whom, other than racists? Can only Asian directors and writers create such a movie? Does that mean they can’t work on movies about non-Asian superheroes, or just that it’s not desirable to have a white (or black?) director and writer for movies like this one? I’m so confused… Continue reading →
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball. If you need to give her more things to do because you are feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity — which, by the way, I know personally from the female side of it — like, go for it. Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away.”
—-ESPN sideline reporter Rachel Nichols in a phone conversation nearly a year ago after learning that she would not host coverage during the 2020 N.B.A. finals, as she had been expecting.
The phone call, unbeknownst to her, was being recorded, and someone leaked it to the ESPN brass and the public. The ethical issues raised by that conduct are clear and have been discussed here often: it is a dastardly thing to do, a breach of basic Golden Rule ethics, and indefensible because it creates harm to all involved. But that’s not the issue at hand.
After the video was leaked, many black ESPN employees told one another that it confirmed their suspicions that outwardly supportive white people talk differently behind closed doors. Nichols, seeing the ominous handwriting on the wall, tried to apologize to Taylor with texts and phone calls. Taylor did not respond. Meanwhile, ESPN employees turned against Nichols, whom they perceived as indulging in a “common criticism used by white workers in many workplaces to disparage nonwhite colleagues” when she suggested that “Taylor was offered the hosting job only because of her race, not because she was the best person for the job.”
Alexander Hamilton died on this date in 1804, in a bizarre episode in U.S. history with profound ethical and political implications. There Aaron Burr fatally shot dead the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury and essential political thinker in an illegal duel at Weehawken, New Jersey. It was, of course, unethical to break the law, especially for these two men, who qualified as national leaders. Hamilton’s son had died defending his father’s honor in 1801 at the exact same spot (What was Alexander thinking?)
According to Hamilton’s “second,” Hamilton deliberately fired his weapon into the air rather than at Burr, a gentlemanly gesture and also a profoundly stupid one, if Hamilton believed half the things he had said and written about Burr’s character for years. This was why they were dueling, after all. Burr’s second claimed that Hamilton fired at Burr and missed, and the more I’ve thought abut this, the more I’ve come to believe that this is the more likely scenario. Hamilton was anything but naive, reckless or stupid. Yes, he was a crack shot, but anyone can miss. Even if the gesture of “throwing away his shot” as “Hamilton” puts it, would have impressed some adversaries and been seen as a display of mercy and an offer of reconciliation, it made no sense at all with this adversary. Moreover, Hamilton considered Burr a threat to the nation—he was right about that—why wouldn’t he shoot him? Whatever really happened, Burr, who had the second shot, killed Hamilton with a ball that went through his stomach into his spine. Hamilton died the next day.
This ended Burr’s political career: Would killing Burr have ended Hamilton’s? Probably, but Burr was the one who had issued the challenge. Maybe Hamilton would have been excused by the public. Maybe he would have ultimately become President; all the Founders of his magnitude except Ben Franklin did. For good or ill, Alexander Hamilton would have been a strong and probably transformative leader. But if he hadn’t died at Weehawken, it’s unlikely that we would have “Hamilton” the musical….
1. Baseball, hotdogs, and a bystander hero. Dr. Willie Ross, the father of Washington Nationals pitcher Joe Ross, saved the life of a choking fan midway through yesterday 10-4 Giants win over Washington at Oracle Park in San Francisco. Ross saw that a female spectator was choking, and when Ross came over to her seat to check on her, she couldn’t talk. Ross helped dislodge two pieces of a hot dog by using the Heimlich maneuver, then reached into her throat to take out the third and final piece. The woman, who is a nurse, could breath and speak at last. Ross received a standing ovation from nearby fans.
A study published by the Actors’ Equity Association, the union for both actors and stage managers, revealed that between 2016 and 2019, 76% of stage managers employed on theatrical productions across the country were white. Only 2.63% were Black. Does that mean there is “systemic racism” in the theater world?
Absent a thorough analysis of the path by which individuals enter the field of stage management across the country, there is no justification for concluding that. I assume that the main factors are economic. Theater is an economically impossible pursuit. Those who go into it as a profession are often able to do so because they have financial resources from family or elsewhere that allows them that freedom. African Americans are less likely to have family wealth to support them, and performing has a greater potential for achieving wealth than the behind-the-scenes role of stage manager. As for the performers who, as an actor friend once put it, become actors because they aren’t good at anything else, they are not likely candidates for stage management because stage managers, like any other kind of managers, have to be smart. The theater is, in general, not a profession teeming with smart people. If you are smart, you choose a profession that isn’t financially unsustainable.
To be convinced that the lack of black professional stage managers is caused by racism, I would need to know what the pool of black stage managers is, and whether there are many qualified black stage manager who cannot find jobs. I don’t see that data. If the 2.63% of stage managers who are black represent all or most of the pool, is there a problem? Why? Who cares what color a stage manager is, if the individual knows how to handle the job and does it well?
One issue that the “systemic racism” advocates can’t seem to get their story straight about is the question of how race effects staff and management relations. In a healthy culture, there is no reason why a black stage manager couldn’t successfully oversee a predominantly white cast in a production, or the reverse. However, the racial distrust that the current “antiracism” rhetoric and policies engender almost guarantee conflict in a modern cast where there is racial diversity. Take it from the director of over 200 shows of all sizes and budgets, one thing no production needs is conflict.
Are black stage managers more likely to find racial grievances in a production environment? I don’t know. I wouldn’t be shocked if that was the case, but I will say this: I wouldn’t hire any stage manager of any shade who had a reputation for stirring up controversies. Stage managers exist to solve problems, and to make everything run smoothly. A social justice warrior stage manager? Not on my show.
A factor that is probably at work in keeping down the number of black stage managers is the basic and immutable logic of artistic team building. Successful and experienced producers and directors accumulate a group of people over the course of their work that they enjoy working with and who they believe contribute to their success. They will, in new projects, try to work with those same people. There is nothing wrong or unethical about that. But black directors and producers tend to have regular teams that reflect their social and professional circles, and white directors and producers are the same. Is this racism? I would call it “human nature” or “life.” And the more members of your team that you have no prior experience with, the greater the risk to your production. If I’m taking artistic risks, and I do, I want to minimize organizational risks.
What’s the ethical reaction to this story? Angelia Mia Vargas, 24, has been charged with deadly conduct with a firearm after she accidentally shot her 5-year-old son while trying to shoot an over-enthusiastic 6-month-old boxer puppy that got loose from a neighbor and was running through her yard. Neither the dog nor the boy were seriously injured. My reflex reaction, I confess, was, “HA! That should teach this idiot something about gun safety!” and then I instantly regretted it. The child was innocent: what really would have been condign justice was if her shot hit her car’s gas tank and it blew up. Shooting herself in the foot would have been good. “She could have handled it differently,” said Bruno the puppy’s owner. Ya think? Here’s the terrifying beast that Angelia thought justified deadly force:
Should this woman have custody of a child? [Pointer: valkygrrl]
1. The rest of the story….There were a record number of Tulsa Race Massacre demonstrations on Memorial Day, as one might expect with “hate whitey” being the current fad. What was supposed to be the biggest one, in Tulsa of course, was cancelled after three survivors demanded $1 million each to appear. The May 31st Remember & Rise event was also supposed to feature John Legend and Stacey Abrams—boy, if only my sock drawer hadn’t been in such bad shape!– but it was called off because Viola Fletcher, 107, her brother Hughes Van Ellis, 100 and Lessie Benningfield Randle, 106, increased their appearance fee from $100,000 each to $1 million each. Their lawyers also demanded that a reparations fund be increased from the agreed-upon $2 million to $10 million. What does this tell us about how reparations would turn out if the U.S. were ever so unhinged as to agree to them?
I did learn that the young African-American, Dick Rowland, whose arrest after a white woman accused him of rape (or something) during an encounter in an elevator was the fuse for the violence wasn’t prosecuted. He was released, left Tulsa, and never returned.
I wonder why…
2. Here I go, obsessing about group identity again...In New York, the “Career Opportunities in the Accounting Profession” program, sponsored by the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Moynihan Scholarship Fund, will introduce 250 “promising underrepresented high school students” to the accounting profession. The program will include virtual sessions about forensic accounting, interviewing skills, public speaking, networking, and an “accounting profession overview” featuring a panel discussion with experts in the profession. What a great idea! Nine institutions, including Ithaca College, Medgar Evers College, Rochester Institute of Technology, St. John’s University, Siena College, SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Oswego, the University at Buffalo, and Westchester Community College co-host the program, which is free of charge for students.
Oh—white students may not apply. The online application for the program includes options for Hispanic, Black, Asian, and Native American students, but no option for white students. When confronted about the apparent discrimination involved, SUNY Oswego Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Scott Furlong huminahumina-ed that “SUNY Oswego participates in supporting the program and sees this as a beneficial service to the profession, but we strongly believe that all disadvantaged students would benefit from the COAP program.While we do not participate in recruiting the student participants in COAP or in the setting of policy for student membership, SUNY Oswego would prefer a more inclusive perspective regarding membership in COAP and the NYSSCPA policy…[which would] “align with SUNY Oswego’s ethos that is rooted in diversity of thought and people, equitable practices and policies, and inclusive experiences.” Furlong said that the matter “merits much future discussion for the purposes of having SUNY Oswego reassess our involvement and reconsider our sponsorship.”
Meanwhile, his institution will continue to participate in a program that discriminates against white students.