The standards of acceptable Halloween costuming, as you might have predicted given the catalyst President Obama has given to extreme restrictive political correctness, keeps evolving to the hypersensitive and the restrictive. The issue is easier with children’s costumes: children’s masquerades should be age-appropriate; they should not be manikins for their parent’s senses of humor or political views, and as long as they are in the spirit of horror movies, the criticism of those who don’t understand horror movies should be jeered at or ignored. The major controversies arise now over adult costumes. Ethics Alarms has been covering the phenomenon for awhile: let’s review the topic as previously explored here before I delve into its 2015 edition: Continue reading
I should have already given ESPN an Ethics Dunce for designating an “Espy,” an award given by the cable sports channel to justify having an awards show—to Caitlyn Jenner for the courageous sports achievement of being an aging reality show star who once won an Olympics event and decided that he was now a she. Why I didn’t, I don’t recall. I think my reasoning was that since the awards are just a PR gimmick anyway, it wasn’t worth the post. I wasn’t paying attention: I did not sufficiently focus on the fact that “Espy”she would receive was named after Arthur Ashe. I did already discuss the ethical problems with turning Jenner into a trans icon, since her transition seemed to be in part a money-driven career move. Now, following Jenner’s tearful and touching acceptance of “the Arthur Ashe Courage Award” on TV, we learn this:
“Reports have emerged that Jenner’s team approached ESPN with the idea that she win the Arthur Ashe Courage Award just as details were being finalized for her 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC. ABC and ESPN are both owned by Disney, and ABC aired Wednesday’s awards ceremony. “It was a brilliant move because the executives at ESPN loved the idea, and immediately began making sure it got done,” a source familiar with the negotiations told RadarOnline.The talks hit a stumbling block, and Jenner’s agents were reportedly prepared to pull out of the interview with Sawyer. “It was ironed out, and ABC owns one of the biggest stories of the year.” The build up to Jenner accepting the award will be featured in her upcoming reality show, “I am Cait”, generating a great deal of publicity for both ESPN and the awards.”
Wow! Who could have seen that coming—a reality show star, who has been part of the shameless and venal Kardashian family, cynically manipulating the media and gaining phony recognition on a nationally broadcast awards show…and, in the bargain, debasing the name of a real sports hero, the dignified, sportsmanlike, role model Arthur Ashe, an African American champion in the white man’s game of tennis who helped make Serena Williams’ prominence possible!
Yecchh. In fact, that’s a double yecchh at least.
What does this mean? To begin with, it means that Jenner bought her award. I don’t want to read any Clintonian deceit about how this isn’t technically true….she bought it. There is no reason to believe ESPN would have given the award to Jenner had her agents not suggested it, and ESPN’s parent received value that translated directly into profits with the exclusive, high-rated ABC interview with Sawyer. Jenner might as well have slipped ABC a couple of million in a big valise under the table. This was a bribe. This was an award bought and paid for.
What does that mean?
This whole episode is pure cognitive dissonance hell for me, with high scale values clashing with low scale conduct, and the result being as hard to analyze neatly and dispassionately as the aftermath of an elevator crash. But I’m a fool, so I’ll take a shot at it anyway.
1. Bruce, now Caitlyn, Jenner’s openness about his transsexual issues is brave and may yet help this misunderstood and routinely derided group achieve acceptance. PLUS.
2. She should have played ethics chess, however, and as a public figure who, she now says, always planned this transition, was irresponsible not to. Associating herself with the traveling freak, venality, bad taste and atrocious values caravan known as the Kardashians guaranteed that anything she did thereafter would be a legitimate object of suspicion. MINUS.
3. Turning her transition from Bruce to Caitlyn into a reality show was similarly counter-productive and harmful to her cause, assuming the cause really matters to her. I doubt that it does. Reality shows equal schlock, emotionalism, manipulation, phoniness—and money. That won’t help the trans population. MINUS.
4. As the first bona fide celebrity to undergo gender reassignment (no, I don’t call Chastity Bono a real celebrity), Jenner could have handled this in a modest, measured manner that made trans people look reasonable, dignified, and rational. Unfortunately, Bruce Jenner was always a fame-addicted narcissist, so her handling of the process is what you’d expect from one. Too bad. MINUS.
5. Thus we have the over-praised, over exposed, over-hyped, Vanity Fair cover, which is pure sensationalism, an exploitation of a serious issue for magazine sales, and a fraud. (Literally anyone can be dressed, shaved, and made up to look feminine.) Is Jenner interested in legitimizing and de-stigmatizing gender reassignment, or getting hubba-hubbas for a titillating man-to-bimbo transformation? Is Playboy next for Caitlyn? Don’t bet against it. MINUS for Vanity Fair; MINUS for Jenner
6. Is this really the way an ethical father kindly, sensitively and responsibly handles this kind of tectonic life change when he has six children and four step-children, including teenaged daughters? Admittedly, the daughters are crypto-Kardashians, so normal rules of delicacy might not apply. Still… MINUS for Jenner.
7. Republicans, conservatives and Neanderthals who are incapable of comprehending this serious topic should shut up about it. There is grounds to criticize many aspects of this episode in American culture, but just making snarky comments like Neil Cavuto did on Fox is unproductive, unkind, divisive, and, frankly—I’ve been on Neil’s show, and I hate to say it—makes one look like an ass. If you don’t understand what’s going on, Neil, there’s no law that says you have to cover it. MINUS for Cavuto.
8. I had to shut off TV to get way from the breathless coverage of Jenner’s “coming out” photo. This isn’t respectful or responsible coverage, this is “Look! Bruce Jenner is HOT!!! She has BOOBS!” coverage, juvenile, degrading, and transparently salacious. It shouts “freak,” and that is exactly what Jenner should not want, nor should any LGBT advocate. Of course, the conduct of Vanity Fair and Jenner asked for it. MINUS for the news media.
9. To the extent that Jenner’s act promotes more public discussion and understanding of the issues facing trans individuals, this all may have a beneficial effect that may outweigh the negatives. Right now, there is too much static to tell. PLUS.
The author of the above embarrassment via Twitter, is Kylie Jenner. I feel sorry for Kylie Jenner. She’ll probably be rich, and she’s already famous, but the chances of her life being anything other than an interminable smut-storm of scandals, bad relationships, marriage-less pregnancies, rehabs, reality show spin-offs and episodes that would embarrass anyone not named Kardashian are close to nil. She is part of the latest generation of the culture-rotting clan of lucrative media freaks created by the Machiavellian Kris Jenner, widow of late O.J. Simpson lawyer Bob Kardashian. Kylie was doomed from conception, birthed by a mother lacking scruples, morals or shame, growing up on reality TV shows, with three slutty sisters as her role models and controlled by a mom who would have been a bordello madam, pimping out her daughters, in the era before cable.
Troubled narcissist transsexual Bruce Jenner is her father; professional rapping narcissist Kanye West is her brother-in-law. There has never been a whiff from any member of the extended family that any of them sees or is capable of seeing any value in literature, history, civics, science, knowledge, thought, thinking…anything involving the brain at all—in fact, anything that doesn’t involve self-promotion, exhibitionism, money, conspicuous consumption, atrocious taste, and sex.
OK, so Kylie’s an idiot. That’s too bad, but the girl has 9 million twitter followers, and it’s not too much to ask that she doesn’t use her undeserved prominence and outsized megaphone to make millions of idiot clones. Continue reading
There are three primary reasons the United States of America is getting steadily disoriented, more gullible, less discerning, cruder and unethical. The first is that our leaders now only care about maintaining power, where once leaders tended to their duty of being what John Adams called America’s aristocracy. Such leaders, not too long ago, modeled the best values and behavior for the public because they carried the most crucial responsibilities, and thus had to be trustworthy. They understood this obligation was theirs because they had the most visibility, and recognized that this demanded positive, admirable, virtuous public behavior. Now our leaders use sophisticated modern marketing techniques to package themselves and ideas like a phony weight-loss remedy, gradually dropping the facades once they are too entrenched to remove. The dispiriting journey make us cynical, less civically involved, and confused. Continue reading