Thoughts While Reading Classmate Entries In My Alma Mater’s Anniversary Report, #5: Bias Really Does Make You Stupid…Or Worse

The stunning thing is how many of my aging classmates, no matter what they’ve accomplished and how credentialed they are, have their brains riddled with progressive cant, Trump-Derangement, and climate-change fanatacism. They usually save their rants for the end, after leading the reader on by impressive accounts of career triumphs, arcane literary references, and skilled writing.

A report I read last night by a retired physician was sailing along, rational as could be, and then unravels like the rebel leader in Woody Allen’s “Bananas,” who once he overturns a South American dictatorship gives a speech announcing that the national language will henceforth be Swedish. The doctor warned of madness to come by listing, among the activities he and his still practicing physician wife are passionate about, “seeing Marlon every chance we get.” Surely he doesn’t mean Marlon Wayans or Marlon Jackson; it must be a reference to Marlon Brando.

Okaaay, that’s a little strange: Brando was a great actor and all, but he made maybe ten really good movies (I just checked that: ten is a stretch) and was a self-indulgent, pompous jerk. A non-actor being obsessed with “Marlon” is an ominous sign. Quickly after that admission we get “The Republican push to delegitimize any election they don’t win screams 1938.” Ah, a “Republicans are Nazis” shot…and Republicans push to delegitimize elections they don’t win? A bit of selective history there, Doctor.

Then comes the obligatory climate change hysteria: “The existential threat of climate change has me thinking about Marlon in a haze of worry and terror…Greta Thunberg has it absolutely right.”

Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Return Of Sacheen Littlefeather

Apparently the Oscars are looking hard for virtue-signaling opportunities.

In this instance, they had to travel back in time 50 years and decide to make amends for one of the more ludicrous examples of celebrity grandstanding in pop culture lore. Marlon Brando, a cinch to win the Best Actor statuette for “The Godfather” in 1973, decided to snub the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences, his Hollywood colleagues and the Oscars’ TV audience by sending an obscure, Native American actress named Sacheen Littlefeather to go to the podium when Marlon’s name was read and make a statement about the abuse of Indians at Hollywood’s hands while announcing that Brando was rejecting his honor in protest. You know, because “The Godfather” was all about Native American mobs, or something.

It was a complete non sequitur, and many suspected that the whole stunt had little to do with Native American portrayals in film (about which Brando had previously said nothing) and more to do with the famously weird actor’s desire to stick his thumb in the eye of the industry that had made him rich and famous. He might have just as well had his statuette rejected by Bozo the Clown; maybe it came down to a coin flip: heads, Sasheen (it was an Indian Head nickel), tails, Bozo.

The young woman’s appearance did not go over well. “Mr. Brando very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award,” Littlefeather said. “And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee.”  That was a reference to a protest a month earlier,when the American Indian Movement had occupied the South Dakota town of Wounded Knee, site of the infamous massacre, to protest Hollywood’s killing and..no wait, it was the U.S. government’s treatment of Native Americans that protest was about. What did it have to do with movies, Brando, and the Oscars?

Oh, nothing. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 12/30/2018: A Petition, A Career-Killing Joke, And Priestley’s Play [UPDATED]

Good Morning!

1. One more time...I’m really going to try to get a year-end ethics review up for 2018. In both of the last two years, I failed miserably, and The Ethics Alarms Best and Worst of Ethics Awards never posted. It is a very time-intensive exercise, and the traffic for the posts have never been substantially more than an average entry that is a tenth as long.

We shall see.

2. The Bad Guys, Redux. It’s a problem: one wants to curb the trend of demonizing political adversaries, and yet we keep seeing escalating examples of unequivocally despicable behavior that deserves to be demonized, because it is constant, self-righteous, and indefensible.

Over at GoFundMe, someone named Brian Kolfage, has posted a petition and a crowd-funding effort to pay for “the wall” if Congress won’t. He writes, “I have a verified blue check Facebook page as a public figure and I’m a Purple Heart Recipient triple amputee veteran.”

This is not encouraging. [Correction notice: I originally wrote “Facebook does not use a “blue check,” though Twitter and Instagram do, (and abuse it.)” I checked this, but my source was wrong. Facebook does give public figures “blue checks.”] I guess Kolfage is sort of a public figure. He is also a controversial one who has pushed extreme right-wing conspiracy theories. When asked why he doesn’t mention any of his controversial crusades and advocacy in promoting his crowdfunding effort, he has responded, “My personal issues have nothing to do with building the wall.” Fine: what do his war wounds have to do with building a wall?

Never mind: the appeal has raised over 18 million dollars to date, although the contributions have slowed considerably. It’s a futile effort; I suppose it has some value to show public support for enforcing immigration laws. If people want to donate their money to such a cause, it’s their money to give, though they might as well be making little green paper airplanes out of hundred dollar bills and sailing them into the wind.

Megan Fox reports, however, that someone who wants to punish anyone who doesn’t support open borders is taking names and doxxing contributors. She writes,

Did you donate money to the GoFundMe page to build the border wall? If you did, there’s a good chance this guy/gal or otherkin has doxxed your Facebook profile to millions of other nasty trolls who will now make it their business to harass and punish you with anonymous online mobs. Get ready, because your life is about to get more interesting. Based on my personal experience, once these monsters get your information and the directive to destroy you, the death threats, vandalism, obscene pornography, and harassment at work are not far behind. And the worst part is, no one will help you — not the police or the FBI or anyone else whose job it should be to stop intimidation and harassment.

Nice. Continue reading

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

Lee Daniels’ Ugliest Race Card

Lee Daniels---one more celebrity we can safely ignore forever.

Lee Daniels—one more celebrity whose pronouncements we can safely ignore forever.

African-American “Empire” star Terrence Howard, recently admitted in an interview that he struck his first wife. The big controversy is over whether he hit her with his fist or with an open hand–so what? Quibbling about his mode of physical abuse is inherently offensive. He hit her. Howard also hit second ex-wife Michelle Ghent, who filed a restraining order against him and was photographed with a black eye in 2013. Howard claims this was self-defense.

Okay, let’s accept that.

He hits his wives.

Lee Daniels, who placed his name in front of his film “The Butler”—even Orson Welles wasn’t that much of an egotist—and is “Empire’s” co-creator, came to his star’s defense in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “That poor boy,” Daniels said. “[Terrence] ain’t done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he’s some fuckin’ demon That’s a sign of the time, of race, of where we are right now in America.”

The toxic values and warped perception inherent in that comment are staggering. Continue reading