Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/9/2020: As Fact Begins To Imitate Outrageous Fiction, For Some Reason

Be careful out there…

People appear to be going nuts….in many cases, the exact same people who have, in the recent past, pressed Impeachment/Removal Plan E, ”Trump is mentally ill so this should trigger the 25th Amendment.” Ironic.

This week I stumbled across a comedy now playing on Netflix starring Stephen Yeun, most memorably seen on “The Walking Dead” with half his head caved in and his eyeball hanging out. The movie is called “Mayhem,” and is about a kind of flu that removes people’s impulse control, causing them to do and say whatever they feel like doing or saying, no matter how inappropriate or illegal. The illness strikes a BIgLaw firm, which is quarantined and locked down while its employees go bananas. It’s an excellent metaphor for what is going on right now, but much funnier.

And so far, at least, bloodier.

So far.

1. And now for something completely stupid...Even after being warned at the Golen Globes by Ricky Gervais that they know nothing about the real world and should avoid making political pronouncements, Best Actor winner Joaquin Phoenix announced after the award show that in order to help save the planet from climate change, he would wear the same tux to all the awards shows this year. He really said that. No, seriously, he really did, and he was not engaging in satire (but if the Babylon Bee used that as a story, everyone would assume it was satire.) Then designer Stella McCartney company, also apparently seriously, tweeted (because that tux the actor will be wearing is one of theirs), “This man is a winner… wearing custom Stella because he chooses to make choices for the future of the planet. He has also chosen to wear this same Tux for the entire award season to reduce waste. I am proud to join forces with you.”

I’ve worn the same tux for ten years. Phoenix doesn’t even pay for his tuxes (I pay for mine!), like his female colleagues who get their designer gowns free. There have been some funny jokes about the actor’s ridiculous virtue signaling, many involving underwear, but never mind: what I want to know is, how can anyone take people who think like this seriously, or respect anyone who solemnly nods when they hear about such pompous nonsense, “Hey, right on, man. Save the planet”? Yet a substantial chunk of an entire political party appears to be this far gone.

2.  Wait—are they trying to make our heads explode like those robots and computers that Captian Kirk would destroy by making them think about a contradictory statement? Is that their plan? I admit: I don’t understand this at all. A “Saved by the Bell” reboot, sequel, whatever you want to call it, is on the way. Starring original stars Mario Lopez (who now hosts celebrity gossip shows) and Elizabeth Berkley (whose career never recovered from her starring in the camp classic “Showgirls,” the plot sounds nauseatingly ‘woke,” as it involves now California Govetnor Zack Morris (the gown up character in the original played then by Mark Gosselaar, who actually has a career and doesn’t need to stoop this low) being criticized for closing too many low-income high schools, so he announces that the affected students will be sent to the highest-performing schools in the state, including  his old stomping grounds, Bayside High. Hilarious! I smell a hit! But here’s the beauty part: playing the role of the cutest, most popular cheerleader at Bayside, the role originally played by Tiffany Amber Thiessen, will be played by Josie Totah, a transgender female ( transgender male? I’m still unsure of the right terminology. She began life as a male). Isn’t this just a stunt? On one hand, I’ll fight to the death for the right of any actor to play any role, wear any make-up, use any device, as long as the vehicle itself doesn’t suffer. On the other hand, by casting a transgender actress who has made a point of publicizing her biological origins, the production guarantees that nobody will be able to watch “Lexi” without thinking about things that have nothing to do with “Saved by the Bell.” Continue reading

Fake or Real, “I’m Still Here” is Unethical

Now, having had his film reviewed by most major critics as a genuine documentary and being widely assailed as an exploitive creep (including here), Casey Affleck is telling the media that the film is a put-on. If it is (and why anyone should believe a liar when he admits he is lying is an unanswerable question), then he exploited the audience and defrauded them into seeing a film under false pretenses. The movie isn’t funny, like “Borat,” and there is no legitimate entertainment purpose in staging a fake portrayal of a drugged out,  self-absorbed jerk, who is really only a lying, self-absorbed jerk. Just as James Frey’s  A Thousand Little Pieces was a lousy novel that attracted interest because he falsely represented it as non-fiction, “I’m Still Here” only could attract an audience if they were lied to—because nobody would care about Juaquin Phoenix’s idea of satire. Andy Kauffman he’s not. They will, however, pay to watch a human train wreck. Is Affleck trying to make the audience feel foolish? They are only foolish for trusting him. They won’t do it again.

I still think it’s 50-50 whether the hoax admission is another hoax, as a desperate effort to gin up box office. But it really doesn’t matter. Whether the film is truth or fabrication, Phoenix and his pal Affleck are despicable…just for different reasons.

Casey Affleck, Worst Brother-in-Law of the Year

Imagine that your wife’s brother, who is also one of your best friends, is in trouble. He is ruining his health, career and reputation with habitual drug use and other self-destructive behavior. He seems to be deluded, yet his business associates and friends are enabling his behavior. A tragedy is  unfolding, and no one seems to care.

What do you do? Continue reading