Tag Archives: Hollywood

2017 Oscar Ethics Post Mortem

There were more ethics-related events and issues at the last night’s Academy Awards than usual, and that’s an understatement;

1. Jimmy Kimmel, the Oscars’ designated Johnny Carson this time around, automatically gave the ceremonies the stench of ethics blindness by his very presence. Kimmel, as this site has documented, delights in provoking parents to be cruel to their young children so he can present YouTube videos of the kids’ despair for his audience’s amusement. Kimmel, of course, being bereft of shame or decency, was the perfect choice to execute the Academy’s second most important mission of the night, which was insulting the President of the United States in an international broadcast. He did not fail his dark masters. One well-publicized “quip”:

“Maybe this is not a popular thing to say, but I want to say thank you to President Trump. Remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist? That’s gone, thanks to him.”

Actually, the Oscars are racist, or at least racially biased, as we shall see, and there is proof. I’d like Jimmy to show me the evidence that the President is racist, however, other than the “resistance” talking points he gets in his e-mail.

2. More Kimmel: in a typical Kimmel “human beings are just props to me!” bit, he arranged for a group of unsuspecting tourists to be taken on a Hollywood bus tour that ended up at the Oscars.  The group was escorted through the back doors of the Kodak Theater with no idea what was in store, as  Kimmel had the house lights turned down. When the tourists—Awww, ordinary slobs! Look, Meryl! The little people!”—opened the doors to the stage, the lights came up and all the stars shouted, “Mahershala!” The tourists’ shocked, ope mouthed expression were broadcast live to the world, as their Hollywood betters laughed.

This is called exploitation, and using unconsenting human beings as a means to an end.  Jimmy thinks its funny. Kant didn’t. I think it’s sometimes funny, and always unethical. Candid Camera asked for written consent before broadcasting its victims’ amusing reactions to gags like this.

3. Mel Gibson, justly nominated for his direction of “Hacksaw Ridge,” which also was nominated as Best Picture, sat up front. The Daily Beast tweeted “For Shame!” when the film won a statuette for editing, which it deserved. Let’s see: the theory is that the talented film editor should be snubbed for his work because Mel Gibson is an anti-Semite?  Yes, that’s the theory. The Beast’s Amy Zimmerman wrote a pre-Oscar hate piece on Gibson, which really and truly contained these two sentences:

Hacksaw  tells the story of Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector who enlisted as a battlefield medic during World War II. Of course, any drama that Gibson directs pales in comparison to his own behind-the-scenes odyssey: the story of an odious individual who, after years on the outskirts of Hollywood, has somehow managed to fight his way back into the mainstream.

That’s right: Amy Zimmerman thinks that the story of a religious man who volunteered to serve as a combat medic despite refusing to carry a rifle and who saved 76 wounded soldiers by dragging them to safety under enemy fire by lowering them, one by one,  on a rope device he improvised on the spot, thus winning the Medal of Honor, pales in comparison to Mel Gibson’s PR problems.

Have some damn respect for those who did risked their lives incredible things so hacks like you can write garbage like that and be paid for it, you stupid, stupid fool. Continue reading

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Unethical Quotes Of The Month: DisruptJ20 Organizers David Thurston And Legba Carrefour

disruptj20

“We are not in favor of a peaceful transition of power, and we need to stop it.”

 —Legba Carrefour, one of the organizers of DisruptJ20, a group working with Black Lives Matter and other protest groups to disrupt the Inauguration with demonstrations, predawn blockades and efforts to interfere with inaugural balls in the evening.

“We want to shut down the inauguration. We want to see a seething rebellion develop in this city and across the country.”

—David Thurston, another DisruptJ20 leader.

This is, increasingly, the face of the political Left in 2017 America. These two are a bit more radical, self-righteous, undemocratic and extreme than the Democratic Party and its allies in academia and journalism, but not as much as one would think, or hope.

A significant number of progressives and Democrats have completely lost their minds, as well as their common sense, during the still rolling 2016 Post Election Train Wreck. At least Thurston and Carrefour are honest and straightforward about wanting to undermine the democratic process and to justify a coup solely on the basis that their candidate did not prevail. Democrats, progressives, academics and pundits are advocating or encouraging the same thing, but are less direct about it.

Every few days, often every day, bring new examples. I don’t just mean certified left-wing crazies like Michael Moore, who says we have to find some way to stop Trump from taking the office he was duly elected to, or Rosie O’Donnell, whose status as an idiot would normally make me hesitate to cite her except that ABC News gave her a forum as a pundit on “The View” for a few years, who says that Trump should be “arrested.” When did any conservative, libertarian, or Republican not residing in a padded room advocate that a Democratic President-Elect should be forceably prevented from taking office?

I know, I know: Trump is special. Trump justifies suspending ethics. The New York Times Rule.

About a week ago, another Hollywood video led by Sally Field demanded that Congress “stop” Trump, without really knowing what they will be stopping. The video is pure fear-mongering without substance, calling Trump “racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, anti-worker, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, anti-environmental…” Of course, the same people were part of a loud group of indignant Democrats who maintained for eight years that for Congress to deny the wishes of a President was akin to racism and treason. The previous video, that one headed by fake President Martin Sheen, made the historically stupid argument that Electors were supposed to have the power to veto the will of the people, at least when Democrats lose. That worked well…as as it deserved to.

Yesterday, over at The Hill, an assistant professor of government in American University’s School of Public Affairs was given a forum to make the batty argument that Russia’s hacking and leaking e-mails that exposed some of the filthy under-belly of the Clinton machine and the Democrats mandate cancelling the results of the election and holding a new one. Now, it would be a slightly less batty argument (but batty still), to call for a re-vote if damaging information was uncovered after an election that the winner withheld from the public, like, say, the fact that the IRS was sabotaging conservative groups to keep them from participating in civic discourse, or that the President lied to pass Obamacare, or that the Democratic Senate leader deliberately lied to smear the losing candidate….like in 2012. This guy (his name is Chris Edelson, and I am officially ashamed to have once been on an American University faculty with him) so hates Trump that he advocates causing a Constitutional crisis because damning information about the corruption of Clinton and the Democrats enlightened the public so they could, if they chose, use it to cast an informed vote. Cant have that.

Worse still was the jaw-dropping argument by liberal columnist Richard Cohen a few days ago, in a screed titled, “How to Remove Trump From Office.” Like all of the Left’s suddenly revolution-minded, Cohen begins with a list of Trump’s failings and character deficits, asserting that he is not fit to be President.  Boy, when did the concept of “an election” become so alien to the Left? I happen to agree with Cohen about Trump completely, but see, Richard, it is the voters, not us, who get to decide who is fit to lead the country. If you argue that your opinion should prevail over theirs, you are not a supporter of the Constitution, or democracy. You are an elitist autocrat, tending to totalitarianism.

You, and people like you, scare me a lot more than Donald Trump.

So what is Cohen’s brilliant plan for reversing the will of the people?

Under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, the vice president, together with a “majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide” can remove the president for being “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” No doubt the mere mention of incapacitation would summon a horde of lawyers to Washington to contest it or the meaning of every term. But it is plain that the 25th Amendment does give a role to Cabinet members that is not generally considered when they are up for confirmation. This time, however, they should all be asked whether they are aware of the 25th Amendment and, if need be, whether they would be willing to implement it.

This is so ignorant, so foolish, so intellectually dishonest and so manifestly illegal that I still can’t believe that it isn’t some kind of a terrible joke.

Cohen has readers who trust him and his judgment:it is a betrayal to misuse his influence to propose nonsense like this. The 25th Amendment is entirely there to deal with actual disability, as when Ronald Reagan was shot, when Woodrow Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke, or Eisenhower had a heart attack. There is no ambiguity, in either the Amendment’s wording or the legislative record. “Unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” cannot be tortured into meaning “not what Richard Cohen, Hollywood, Harry Reid and Rosie O’Donnell believe is a qualified President.”

But such is the current ugly derangement on the Left, and if it does not diminish public respect and trust of Democratic Party further—make that even further—I will be surprised.

_________________

Source: Yahoo!

 

 

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Award Ethics: Hollywood’s Casey Affleck-Nate Parker Controversy Is Ethically Simple, But Then, Hollywood Doesn’t Have Ethics

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock (7734778do) Casey Affleck - Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama - Manchester By The Sea 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards, Press Room, Los Angeles, USA - 08 Jan 2017

There were several possible Ethics Alarms posts that could have come out of The Golden Globe Awards last night, the obvious one involving the continuing arts community tantrum in the wake of the election of Donald Trump over Hollywood’s sweetheart, Hillary Clinton. Meryl Streep put herself in the running for “Gratuitous Cheap Shot Of The Year ” with her acceptance speech for something or other, but I decided that in a community where Rosie O’Donnell tweets “Fuck you!” to the Speaker of the House for simply completing his duty to certify the Electoral College vote, and over the weekend tweeted, “HE MUST NEVER BE SWORN IN – DELAY INAGURATION – INVESTIGATE – ARREST HIM” as her considered analysis of the proper workings of our democracy, Streep’s shot seemed like the height of restraint.

The more interesting issue on display at the Golden Globes  involves actor Casey Affleck, Batman’s brother, who won the night’s Best Actor in a Film Drama award for his performance in “Manchester by the Sea.” Last year, it was revealed that the actor had two sexual harassment lawsuits filed against him in 2010 that alleged he had groped women on the set and created a generally hostile work environment while directing the film, “I’m Still Here.” Since during the campaign Hollywood was all-in using misogyny and sexual  harassment as one of the many accusations against Donald Trump, some claim that honoring Affleck undermines the community’s assumed condemnation of the Trump-like conduct he was accused of.

Complicating the matter is the conundrum surrounding Nate Parker, the previously unknown black artist who was the main creative force behind the 2016 slave-revolt film “The Birth of a Nation.”  As Oscar buzz was ramping up for his film—remember that the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences is more or less obligated to find plenty of nominations and awards for African Americans, regardless of objective artistic merit—  new details surfaced concerning a decades old criminal case in which Parker was accused of raping a female student while both were at Penn State.  He was acquitted,  but the facts were ugly, and the alleged victim committed suicide. Once that was known, all of the promise shown by “The Birth of a Nation” evaporated. Although the film was a smash at festivals, it received mixed reviews,bombed at the box office, and has been poison at the various awards so far, receiving no nominations.

The New York Times, among other media sources, has published several articles about the apparent double standard, saying most recently,
Continue reading

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The Rape Of Maria Schneider

tango_2011_a_l

There are many stories of directors crossing ethical lines by using abusive, unfair and disrespectful methods obtain a vivid performance from an actor. None are as bad as this one.

Now a video has surfaced of Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci admitting that in his acclaimed 1972 film “Last Tango In Paris,” the infamous rape scene where Paul (Marlon Brando) sodomizes Jeanne (Maria Schneider) with a stick of butter was not consented to by the 19 year-old actress, who was not warned of the unscripted sequence before it was thrust upon her, and in her. She was, in short, raped.

No wonder it seemed so realistic.

“The sequence of the butter is an idea that I had with Marlon in the morning before shooting it,” Bertolucci said in the 2013 interview at La Cinémathèque Française in Paris. “I’d been, in a way, horrible to Maria, because I didn’t tell her what was going on…I wanted her reaction as a girl, not as an actress…I wanted her to react humiliated…I think she hated me and also Marlon because we didn’t tell her.”

The film was a sensation, though and both Brando and Bertolucci received Academy Award nominations, so it was worth it.

Right?

Apparently Schneider alluded to the rape in private conversations and interviews, but never explicitly enough that it was clear what had been done to her. Now Hollywood is reacting with appropriate outrage.

“The should be in jail,” tweeted actor Chris Evans. (Psst!...the actor is long dead, Chris, as is Schneider. Bertolucci is 76.)

What a disgusting story of complete ethics rot in the arts, and what a damning indictment of Bertolucci, Brando and the culture that produced them.

_____________________

Pointer: Fred

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Workplace Dilemma: Do You Really Want To Know What Everyone Else Is Being Paid?

Miles Teller, who really showed THEM...

Non-La La Land star Miles Teller, who really showed THEM…

The male star of the buzzy movie musical “La La Land,” which opens next week, is Ryan Gosling. The role was originally offered to Miles Teller, who was a rising hot property and star on the threshold for acing the role of the abused drummer in “Whiplash,” like “La La Land” directed by Damien Chazelle.

But according to the people familiar wit negotiations, Teller was insulted by money he was offered,  a paltry $1 million, primarily because his putative co-star, Emma Stone,was being offered almost $3 million. After some back and forth, Chazelle replaced Teller with Gosling. Thus did Teller lose out on an a rare opportunity to make himself a major star in a film that is widely believed to be an Oscar magnet, and, of course, he won’t have that million dollars, either.

This a particularly vivid example of the ethics dilemma created by comparative salaries. I have not seen or heard of a satisfactory solution to it, from the management side or the labor side. Management would prefer that employees not know what other employees are making, and with good reason. The information can cause envy, bitterness, anger and lawsuits. Every employee has a tendency to believe they are more valuable, and indispensable, than they really are. Of course, some employers want to keep salaries secret because there are disparities that they cannot defend, or that may be illegal. While transparency is desirable to prevent unfair salary differences, however, it can make legitimate disparities untenable. Continue reading

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More Casting Ethics: The Stunt Performer Dilemma

Penelope Cruz and her stunt double. Works for me!

Penelope Cruz and her stunt double. Works for me!

To recap: This month, we have already debated a wide range of casting ethics controversies…

The position of Ethics Alarms is identical in all three controversies. The only consideration in casting a role should be the director’s artistic assessment of who will do the best job meeting the artistic and commercial demands of that role, under the constraints of the project, which can include budget, locale and workplace conditions. Ethnicity, race and off-screen appearance should be secondary, and better still, irrelevant. Efforts to substitute political, diversity or affirmative action goals  for artistic ones undermine the integrity of the work, and are unfair to the audience as well as the work itself. Make-up is a tool of the performing arts, and is unrelated to blackface, which was a convention designed to denigrate African Americans. Confounding make-up used to allow a performer to play a character of a different ethnicity, race or skin shade with minstrelsy and blackface is intellectually dishonest or ignorant.

Now comes a new issue in this spectrum: the use of white, male stunt performers to substitute for black or female stars.

This article, in The Telegraph,  begins with the assumption that the practice is inherently unethical:

“For decades, white stunt performers would paint their faces and bodies black to double for black stars. Similarly, it was not uncommon for stuntmen to put on heels and wigs to double for women. This was not happening in a vacuum: all the while, black and female stunt performers were pressing for recognition and the right to work in the jobs for which they were best suited….There is an understanding within the studios that such incidents don’t look good and need to be kept hush-hush.”

If, as the article and the Hollywood activists it interviews assert, the practice of “blacking up” white stunt performers is designed to exclude qualified black stunt performers from working, then of course it is unethical. Given the close-knit stunt performer community, described as a white, male, “old boys network” in the essay, this is certainly possible, even likely. Nevertheless, the assertion that there is anything intrinsically unethical, unfair or wrong with using a disguised white stunt performer to substitute for a black star, a male stunt performer to substitute for a female star, or any other variation imaginable is, as with the Hispanic and Afghan complaints, based on non-existent ethical principles. Continue reading

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Oscar Ethics Post Mortem: The Academy Just Guaranteed That Whatever Artists Win Oscars Next Year, They Will Have No Credibility Whatsoever

Good job, everybody!

Good news, Sipke! The fix is in: if you make a movie this year, no matter how crappy it is, you'll get a nomination. Happy now?

Good news, Sipke! The fix is in: if you make a movie this year, no matter how crappy it is, you’ll get a nomination. Happy now?

Thanks to an extended public self-flagellation by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Scientists last night, any future Oscar nominations or awards to black performers, designers, writers and directors will be regarded by the public and the Hollywood community itself with justifiable suspicion, doubts and cynicism. Last night’s ceremony, from Chris Rock’s all-race monologue to the choice of the music over the credits, was a tacit commitment by the Academy to henceforth and forever name sufficient minority nominees and winners regardless of the merits of their work or the comparative merits of their work to any white artists. Diversity is officially more important than merit. By hook or by crook, there will now be prominent honors to Hollywood blacks….even if some of the honored work is crap.

Not surprisingly, given its traditional and intellectually wan reflex liberalism, Hollywood painted itself into an affirmative action and quotas mandate. After last night, the voters won’t dare fail to nominate a whole bunch of blacks, so Spike Lee will come to the ceremony.  This does put pressure on black artists to actually turn in some outstanding, or at least plausibly decent, work to avoid making all those guaranteed nominations and awards look as phony and rigged as they will be. If the 2017 Oscars include nominations for Samuel L. Jackson playing Samuel L. Jackson, a lifetime achievement award for Sydney Poitier and a gift nod to James Earl Jones for a charming cameo as a crusty old hermit in “The Sandlot, Part 3,” it’s going to be even more obvious what’s going on. Continue reading

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