More Casting Ethics: In Search Of Acting Afghans

whiskeytangofoxtrot

The problem is that our educational system belches out new graduates who have been indoctrinated into rigid and often absurd ideas about right and wrong, They quickly fill the culture with those ideas and their freedom-stultifying emanations. The ideas act like viruses: if you don’t diagnose them and wipe them out, our very minds are at risk.

Here is an example, by mere coincidence, concerning casting ethics, the same topic as the recent post about how some African-Americans seem to want to discriminate on the basis of skin shade, at least when it comes to casting movies. (Who knew?) I was reading Entertainment Weekly on an airplane, as I only read Entertainment Weekly on airplanes, and this whole issue (The “Batman v. Superman” issue) struck me as being written by 22 year-olds. In a review of Tina Fey’s latest bomb (“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”—“WTF,” or What the Fuck, get it?), reviewer Leah Greenblatt wrote this…

“And its more than a little disappointing that the two major Afghan supporting roles are filled by obviously non-Afghan actors….”

Leah doesn’t bother to explain why it’s a little disappointing; she just assumes it’s obvious, as in, “What? They didn’t hire real Afghans to play Afghans? I’m outraged!” Meanwhile, a young impressionable reader who assumed that a film reviewer has some expertise in such things, would absorb this heretofore unknown standard of decency and take it as cant. Contagion! This is how the political correctness virus eats our brains. Continue reading

Non-Douche Neil Patrick Harris Almost Gets It Right

Neil Patrick Harris...no douche he! But is it for the right reasons?

In a cover feature story for Entertainment Weekly, Neil Patrick Harris (or whoever ghost-wrote for him) lays out his Hollywood Survival Guide. Secret of Hollywood Survival #6 for the star of “How I Met Your Mother” and ubiquitous awards show host is “Don’t Be A Douche”:

“Hollywood affords many opportunities to be a douche of epic proportions,” writes the grown-up “Doogie Howser,” “Avoid the temptation.”  He continues:

“Being a pleasant person has got to count for something….Actors sometimes take themselves far too seriously and put themselves on a different level [from the crew.] But everyone’s working really hard and should be afforded the same level of respect.”

For that, Neil gets an Ethics Alarms salute. Unfortunately, he scars his achievement by going on to explain how the make-up people, the film editor and the transportation department can really nail you if you don’t treat them well.

Given the breezy tone of the article, Harris was probably joking, but the joke reinforces the misconception many people have about ethics, which is that ethical conduct is a quid pro quo. It’s not. The Golden Rule isn’t “Do nicely unto others do they won’t screw you over,” and someone’s less than nice behavior  toward you doesn’t justify your being a douche to him. One isn’t respectful to the waiter because he’s liable to spit in your soup if you’re not, but because it’s the right way to treat other human beings.

Neil Patrick Harris certainly seems like a decent guy, and he probably is. I just wish, in the pursuit of a pretty stale joke about how the make-up people will get even by making you look like a troll, he hadn’t reinforced one of the most persistent of unethical rationalizations.