Atrocious People, Part I: The Dog Rescuer, Elantra Cunningham, And What To Do About Her

bad-apples1

Let me make the ultimate conclusion of this post immediate and prominent:

The dog rescuer, , is admirable and ethical in every way. , the irresponsible and ungrateful woman who placed the dog in peril and had Hammons arrested for rescuing it is unethical and shockingly lacking in civilized values.

Let us all henceforth regard them and treat them appropriately according to their conduct in this matter.

There.

Now the details.

22-year-old Elantra Cunningham, owner of both the dog and the car, insisted that a police officer arrest Hammons for trespass and destroying private property. “It was not an arrest made by the deputy’s own volition,” Chief Deputy Lee Weems explained. “The woman pressed charges for breaking out the window of the car, and the deputy did what he had to do.”

Animal control cited Elantra for leaving her dog in a hot vehicle. Hammons spent the night in jail.

Comments: Continue reading

Oscar Ethics 2015: The Unforgivable Dishonoring Of Maureen O’Hara

maureen ohara

Usually I follow the Oscars telecast with a post on the recently deceased actors and actresses the Academy unfairly snubs in its annual “In Memoriam” session. There is no excuse for robbing anyone of a last bow and farewell, despite the repeated claim that there “just isn’t enough time” to squeeze everyone in. Last night that dishonest excuse for disrespect and incompetence was rendered more absurd than ever: If there’s time for the longest, slowest, most repetitious speech yet by an Academy official, if there’s time for not one but two inappropriate political rants on the podium by award-winners, if there’s time for so many songs that the show seemed more like the Grammys than the Oscars, then there’s time to flash a couple more faces for a second or two.

This year, the omissions were minimal compared to recent years. I noticed the absence of Richard Kiel (1939-2014),

Jaws

…the giant actor who was best known for playing the James Bond villain “Jaws” in two films, as well as less celebrated monsters, aliens and goons. Marcia Strassman, (1948-2014),

Strassman

who made few films (she was predominantly a TV actress (“Welcome Back, Kotter”), but who was the co-star (with Rick Moranis) of the Disney hits, “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” and “Honey I Blew Up The Kid,” also deserved inclusion, and Polly Bergen (1930-2014)

Polly Bergen

…who played the terrorized lawyer’s wife in the original “Cape Fear”(portrayed by Jessica Lange in the Scorsese re-make) and had significant roles in several other films, was a bad omission.

Because Twitter users are about 12 or have the memories of mayflies, there was much indignation last night over the absence of Joan Rivers and former SNL standout Jan Hooks. I’d leave the appreciations of both to the Emmys, especially Rivers. A couple cameos and doing the voice of the C3PO parody in “Spaceballs” doesn’t constitute a film career, and snarky red carpet interviews are not movie-making.

Those snubs pale in significance, however, to the disrespect shown by the academy not only to one of its all-time great stars, but to its own history, in the treatment of actress Maureen O’Hara. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce (Hyper-Partisan Hate Division): Merritt Tierce

Blood-money

I don’t think “blood money” means what she thinks it does…

Having just criticized Rush Limbaugh for one of his irresponsible uses of his influence, I think it’s an appropriate time to shine some harsh light on one of his unethical critics.

Merritt Tierce is a feminist author whose first novel Love Me Back chronicles her time at a high-end Dallas steakhouse. In a recent interview, she recounts how she twice served Rush and a guest.  Both times the radio host left her a $1,000 in tip on bills that would normally call for a fraction of that even if she had given the best service in the history of her trade. Was she grateful? Oh, no, she says. The cash felt like “blood money” to her, she explained. Since Tierce served as the executive director of the Texas Equal Abortion  Fund during her waitressing period, a non-profit group that provides financial assistance to low-income women seeking abortions, she donated the tips to her charity. “It felt like laundering the money in a good way,” she said. “He’s such an obvious target for any feminist or sane person. It was really bizarre to me that he gave me $2,000, and he’s evil incarnate in some ways.”

“You’re welcome, Merritt!” Continue reading

The Academy’s “In Memoriam” Snubs: Much Better This Year—Thanks, Oscar

The great Jonathan Winters in the not-so-great "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"

The great Jonathan Winters in the not-so-great “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”

In past years I have taken the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to task for the ethical breach of ingratitude and disrespect, as the honor roll of the year’s deceased film notables have omitted important figures who deserved their final bows. Omissions are inevitable, I suppose, but some of the past examples were unforgivable—last year alone, for example, the Academy snubbed Ann Rutherford, Andy Griffith, R.G. Armstrong, Russell Means, Harry Carey, Jr., and Susan Tyrell. 2012 was worse.

2013, however, shows that the Academy is being more careful, and Oscar deserves credit for cleaning up its act. I have ethical and historical objections to bestowing the prestigious final slot on actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman, dead prematurely of self-inflicted drug abuse, when a genuine, bona fide Hollywood legend, Shirley Temple, was on the list. I understand the thinking: Hoffman had friends and colleagues in the room, and Temple is of another generation; his premature death was a tragedy, and she lived a long and productive life. Still, the priorities and relative values such a choice exemplifies is disturbing. Great actor that he was, Hoffman was a criminal, an addict, and left his children fatherless. Shirley was the greatest child star who ever will be, a ray of sunshine in the dark days of the Depression, a one-of-a kind talent and icon, and later a lifetime public servant who raised a family. She represented the best of Hollywood and the profession; Hoffman represents its dark side. Naturally, he’s the one who received the greatest recognition. I will suppress my dark suspicions that Shirley was docked because she was a Republican. A  Facebook friend actually wrote that Shirley deserved to be penalized because some of her movies were racist. My response to this slur was not friendly. Continue reading

The Ethics Of Demanding Charity

Joanna Leigh

Joanna Leigh

I can not imagine much more heartbreaking plights than that of Boston Marathon bombing victim Joanna Leigh.

By April 14, 2013, Leigh, 39, had a newly minted doctorate in international development, and a promising career as a consultant. On April 15, she was at the finish line of the marathon, waiting for a friend to cross it, when the second of two bombs exploded ten feet from her. She was shielded from the deadly flying metal by other spectators, but still knocked unconscious. When she awoke, there was chaos around her, people screaming, maimed, covered with blood. She helped some injured find help, and then, dazed, walked home. For various reasons, she did not get herself checked out at a hospital until more than a week had passed.

Gradually, however, the symptoms of her injuries began appearing. Soon, it became obvious that the closed head injuries she suffered in the explosion have caused devastating long-term damage to her brain, and it is doubtful that her life will ever be normal again. Today, she says, she has to sleep most of the day. She cannot work or drive, and is easily disoriented, even getting lost on her own block. She has blurred vision, her hearing is impaired and she cannot avoid the constant ringing in her ears. Concentration has become difficult, and the simplest everyday tasks are overwhelming.   Continue reading

And One More…UPDATE: “Cheated Out Of Their Final Bows: Hollywood Snubs Its Own At The Oscars…”

Yesterday I attempted in a small way to make up for the injustice perpetrated on their own by the Academy of Motion Picture sciences, by noting the passing of ten talented and worthy film actors who were unfairly and inexplicably left off the Oscar’s “In Memoriam” feature. I was afraid that I missed someone important, and sure enough, I did. And it was…

Susan Tyrell (1945-2012)

susan-tyrrell

Leaving out Tyrell was especially callous by the Academy (not that dissing the others was not), because, first of all, she was a previous nominee for Best Supporting Actress (for John Huston’s “Fat City,” made in 1972), and second, because Tyrell had battled courageously against multiple health issues while doggedly trying to pursue her craft.  In 2000, she lost both legs as a result of a rare blood disease, but stayed active, performing in seated roles and voice parts to the end. Susan Tyrell was an electric performer, a veteran of Broadway and Off-Broadway, fearless, quirky, and unforgettable.

Except, apparently, by her colleagues in Hollywood.

I’m sorry I missed you first time around, Susan.

Cheated Out Of Their Final Bows: Hollywood Snubs Its Own At The Oscars, And Worse Than Ever

Oscars

Once, the excuse that routinely issued from the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences when a significant film actor was omitted from the annual “In Memoriam” segment at the Oscars—“There just wasn’t enough time!”-–seemed almost plausible. It was still a lousy and dishonest excuse, don’t get me wrong: in a broadcast that routinely approaches four hours and wastes time like it is money in Washington, we are supposed to believe that there aren’t three seconds to give a proper send-off to the likes of Harry Morgan (last year) or Farrah Fawcett (the previous one)? That excuse won’t fly at all now, however, as some diabolical deal with the behind the camera members, the warped priorities of the Oscar show’s Broadway musical nerd producers, Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, and the final decisions regarding who would be featured in the movie industry’s public goodbye being made by, apparently, throwing darts at a dartboard combined to produce the most extensive and egregious snubs within memory.

This is a television broadcast and tailored for the public audience, after all. The Academy gives its technical awards in a separate private ceremony: wouldn’t that be the  place to bid a respectful farewell to the seemingly endless list of deceased publicity agents, make-up artists,movie executives and key grips whose completely unrecognizable faces and names were paraded before us last night, often with out of context quotes that made no sense at all? Then, guaranteeing that the “we ran out of time!” alibi would be risible, the segment’s editors chose a non-actor for the prestigious final place on the death list, composer Marvin Hamlisch, as an excuse to drag Barbra Streisand into the proceedings. I appreciate Hamlisch’s achievements, but his movie credits were not so extensive as to justify the honor (we are basically talking about one Academy Award-winning song, “The Way We Were,” and his arrangements of Scott Joplin’s music in “The Sting”), and the award show’s misbegotten “theme” of movie music was not sufficient justification to place a non-actor in the position of highest honor.

Meanwhile, the following actors, all who made significant contributions to American film in their careers, were cheated out of their final bow, and we, the film-going audience, were cheated of our chance to remember them, and say goodbye. It was a disgrace.

Ethics Alarms isn’t the Academy, but here, like last year, is its salute to the faces and careers Oscar forgot: Continue reading

The Ethics of Christmas Shaming

Ethics Alarms participant Jeff Hibbert asks my reactions to this photo:

Blurry face boy

[The sign reads: “I have to take back my PS3 that I was getting for Christmas because I wasn’t grateful to receive a Captain America action figure (That I received from Church) so I’m going Christmas shopping for other kids with the refund money!”  The actual photo on the web shows the unblurred face of an unhappy boy, and that is how I originally posted it. However, after some prompting by Jeff, I concluded that I was adding to the boy’s plight by helping to publicize his identity. Ethics Alarms commenter texagg04 kindly provided this version, as well as three others that gave me some Christmas mirth by replacing the boy’s face with Bart Simpson’s, a smiley face, and most inspired of all, the face of recent Ethics Alarms’ subject John Dillinger.]

I can’t find any context for it, back-story, or the name of the family involved. (I’m glad about that last part, by the way.)  If it is what it appears to be, a young boy’s parents are subjecting him to rather harsh punishment for displaying inadequate gratitude for a gift he didn’t care for, by forcing him to return his favorite gift, a Play Station 3, and use the money to buy gifts for presumably needy children. Continue reading

The Ethics Agony of Angus T. Jones

How could such a lucky kid complain?

Angus Jones, the “Half” of CBS’s resilient sitcom “Two and a Half Men, ” is receiving heavy doses of criticism and mockery in entertainment circles (and Blog World, of  course) for being so ungrateful and graceless as to post a YouTube video condemning the very TV show that has made him rich and famous over the last nine years, taking him from childhood to majority. The video was posted by the Alabama-based church Forerunner Chronicles, which apparently Baptized Jones recently. “You cannot be a true God-fearing person and be on a television show like [‘Two and a Half Men’]. I know I can’t. I’m not okay with what I’m learning, what the Bible says, and being on that television show.” He goes on to say,

“I’m on ‘Two and a Half Men’ and I don’t want to be on it. Please stop watching it. Please stop filling your head with filth.”

Is this disloyal and ungrateful conduct toward a show, a cast and employers that have given Jones wealth, celebrity and fame? Undoubtedly. If he had come by this station in life through his own efforts and fully informed choices, I would agree with the Hollywood chorus accusing the 19-year-old of “biting the hand that feeds him.” Jones, however, was indentured to “Two and a Half Men” at the age of ten, which is to say that he had little say in it or his life path so far. His parents, like the parents of most child actors, decided that his innate performing talent was worth a lot of money to them and him, and that this was reason enough to launch him into a field with a century-long track record of turning children into dysfunctional celebrity addicts, often setting them on the road to addiction, isolation, depression, failure, and death. Continue reading

Confession of Faithless Fan

The 2012 Red Sox season

I’ve been meaning to write this post for more than a month, almost two., for it has been that long since I have watched a Boston Red Sox game, or indeed any baseball game at all. This, I knew, was complete abdication of everything I believe about loyalty, courage, faithfulness and gratitude, yet I could not force myself to meet my own standards, and I am ashamed.

For I hate sports fans like that, feckless, fair weather, Sunday soldiers who root loudly for their team when things are good, and who defect to the booers and the doubters when the tides of fortune turn. I have been the most loyal and faithful of Boston baseball fans since my childhood. I watched or listened to every game when the team was annually awful, from 1962-1966, and yet got reserved seats for the final series of the 1967 season a year in advance, because I thought, absurdly, that the team might be in a pennant race. (And I was right!) I endured team collapses and disappointments in many seasons since—all the famous ones, and others that only a dedicated lifelong fan would remember.

What happened to me this year? Continue reading