Tag Archives: honors

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,
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Well, THAT Question’s Answered: No Parting Gifts For A-Rod

No-GiftI wrote in an earlier Ethics Quiz that the retirement of Yankee Cheat and Head Creep Alex Rodriguez tomorrow would put the Boston Red Sox in a difficult position tonight. Should they honor him, as the Yankees will honor Red Sox star David Ortiz in his final appearance in Yankees Stadium? Or should they  eschew any recognition, since the Boston fans hate Alex’s guts?

Apparently, as often is the case, the problem was not as difficult as my ethical alarms were telling me. The Sox won’t even give A-Rod a cupcake. There will be no recognition of his career, other than the symphony of boos that will rain down on him from the Fenway Faithful every single time he comes to bat.

Good.

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Ethics Quiz: Boston’s A-Rod Dilemma

newsday-AROD

This is a really, really hard one.

Over the weekend, as reported here, Yankee superstar/pariah/cheating jerk for the ages Alex Rodriguez announced that he would “retire” after next Friday night’s game. He’s not really retiring, of course. Like almost everything involving A-Rod, lies and cover-ups reign. Since the Yankees were going to have to pay the rest of his contract to the tune of 27 million bucks either way, they told Alex that they could release him, thus ending his career on a sour note, or allow him to pretend to make the decision to leave the game himself, which would be better PR for all concerned.

However, the announcement presents a problem for the Boston Red Sox. A-Rod’s next-to-last game is Thursday night in Fenway Park, and a player with Rodriguez’s astounding career on-field achievements would typically warrant an on-field salute, like the Sox gave Yankee icon Derek Jeter when he retired. The problem is that Red Sox fans don’t like or respect A-Rod, and they shouldn’t. No baseball fan should. He disgraced the game with his drug use and lies; was an unsportsmanlike presence for most of his career, and will not reach the Hall of Fame despite one of the best careers ever unless the Hall junks all of its character requirements.

Yet reciprocity raises its ethical head. David Ortiz, the beloved Red Sox slugger, is also retiring after this season, and the Yankees have planned to give him a big send-off when Big Papi plays his last game in Yankee stadium. How can the Red Sox snub A-Rod, and expect the Yankees to honor their hero? If the Red Sox do hold a ceremony for Rodriquez, will Sox fans use it as an opportunity to heap well-deserved abuse on Alex one last time? If Sox fans fill Fenway with boos, will Yankee fans reciprocate by ruining Ortiz’s moment in New York? (I would give my guess on this, but it might expose a long-held bias against Yankee fans.)

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

What is the most ethical way to handle this awful situation?

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Ethics Dunce: ESPN

protest-mizzou

ESPN has announced it will give the University of Missouri (MU), a.k.a Mizzou, football team a special humanitarian award in July to honor the team for its strike  in 2015. You know the one, right?  If you did, then you are probably retching.

This was the Black Lives Matter-esque fuse that caused over a hundred universities to explode in racial unrest and cave in to pressure from black student groups to yield to demands supposedly addressing various imagined, concocted or politically exploited race-related problems on campuses, ranging from microagressions, to inadequate race-consciousness, to unidentified people saying mean things.

That last, in fact, was what caused the Mizzou foolishness. There, three unrelated episodes caused the “crisis”:

  • Payton Head, MU senior and president of MSA,  published a Facebook saying that he was walking around campus when the passenger of a pickup repeatedly shouted the “nigger at him.

No one confirmed his claim.

  • The Legion of Black Collegians posted on social media that the group was rehearsing for a performance at the University’s Traditions Plaza when a “young man” talking on his cellphone walked up to the group, was politely asked to leave, and hurled “racial slurs” at LBC members.

Was he a student? Nobody knows.

  • Someone draw a swastika using human feces inside Mizzou’s Gateway Hall.

Funny, I think of the swastika as an anti-Semitic symbol, not anti-black one, but hey, whatever it takes, right?

None of these involved perpetrators who were identified, or who were shown to be students. None of them  were remotely within the control of the University; nor were they coordinated in any way.  Black groups on campus, however, harassed the school’s president, Tim Wolfe,  and demanded that he resign. A black graduate student began a hunger strike, promising to forgo all food and nutrition until Wolfe was ousted. Finally, black University of Missouri football players announced that they would not participate in team activities or games until the university yielded to various demands, including Wolfe’s dismissal. The coach and the rest of the team backed the black players, and the university caved.

In addition to sparking many other conflicts on other campuses, disrupting students’ education, making U.S. ccolleges look like the inmates were running the asylums (because they were) and increasing racial tensions, the episode had the effect of  causing a huge drop in enrollment that has cost Mizzou about $32 million.

Isn’t that great?

Good job, everybody!

Apparently ESPN think so, anyway. 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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It’s Time To Play “Ethical, Unethical, Stupid, Or Tongue-In-Cheek?”, The Celebrity Quote Game Show!

Quiz show5

Are you ready, panel?

Here we go…I read to you from Mediate:

As the controversy continues over the white-washed pool of actors nominated this year for the Oscar awards, gay British actor Sir Ian McKellen has stated that homophobia is just as prominent in the film industry as racism.

McKellen, perhaps most prominently known for his work in the Lord of the Rings and X-Men series, spoke with Sky News today about why he felt sympathetic to the minority actors who felt like they were being overlooked by the Academy. While McKellen said that the concerns had merit, he also stated that black people were not alone in feeling disenfranchised by Hollywood.

“It’s not only black people who’ve been disregarded by the film industry, it used to be women, it’s certainly gay people to this day,” McKellen said. “And these are all legitimate complaints and the Oscars are the focus of those complaints of course.”

In a separate interview with The Guardian, McKellen also said that actors have won Oscars for playing gay characters in the past, and yet despite being nominated himself, no openly homosexual actor has ever won.

Now, you need some background for this round, panel. 

It is almost certain that a very large proportion of Hollywood is gay, and it has always been this way. The exact percentage is open to question, but those who have worked in other areas of show business encounter a large percentage of gay men, and also women, among designers, producers, directors, and actors, at all levels of the theater. In most college theater programs, there is a clear predominance of gays among both faculty and students. It would be strange indeed if the dominance of gays in the other aspects of show business was significantly different from the demographics in film. This suggests that there must be a strong contingent of closeted or privately gay men and women among the voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

So now your question, panel: Was Ian McKellen’s bold assertion…

“Ethical, Unethical, Stupid, Or Tongue-In-Cheek?”

You have…30 seconds!

Time’s up!

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Ethics Observations On The Academy’s Pro-Diversity “Fix”

Chris-Rock-Backstage-at-Oscars

Apparently panicked by the negative reaction to its all-white 2016 Oscar nominations,  and determined not to give MC Chris Rock more ammunition than he already has, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Scientists has rushed into place new voter qualifications for next year’s awards. Under the new rules, members who have not worked over the past 30 years  will lose the right to cast Oscar ballots unless they have been nominated for an Oscar themselves.

What’s going on here?

1. Is this substituting real bias for unfairly assumed bias?

Sure it is.

As one soon to be disenfranchised voter told the Hollywood Reporter, “The Motion Picture Academy, in the spirit of Affirmative Action (which has worked so well in our universities), is determined to take the Oscar vote away from the Old White Guys…Personally, I wish they’d examine their complex preferential ballot procedure which clearly isn’t working right. But no, blame the Old White Guys.” Others noted that to assume older voters, many who were at their peak during the rebellious Sixties and the Civil Rights Era, weren’t voting for black artists was foolish. The new rules seem to be an obvious attempt to stigmatize and penalize older voters.  The seniors, said one dissenting Academy member, are often “perfectly vibrant and very much with it and, while they may be retired, it doesn’t mean they aren’t functioning on all cylinders. They have earned the privilege of being in the Academy through their work and just because they’re no longer active doesn’t mean that they can’t be a good judge of what they’re looking at.” Former actress Delores Hart, who gave Elvis Presley his first screen kiss and who was the top-billed star of “Where the Boys Are?,” was direct, saying,  “It’s age discrimination.”

Of course, Hollywood has long-accepted age-discrimination, and Saturday Night Live would never skewer the Oscars for that. Continue reading

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