Tag Archives: movies

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/11/17

GOOD MORNING!!!

1. From sources within Google management, we learn that the firing of the diversity memo writer, James Demore, was hotly debated, but in the end...

“…Damore’s focus on biology really made it clear that he had crossed the line.” What turned the tide, said sources, was when it was noted that if Damore’s dubious contentions about women’s skills were replaced by those about race or religion, there would be no debate.’

Ethics diagnosis: Bias made them stupid…that is, Google’s political correctness bias. If someone says that blacks, for example, are biologically handicapped for certain jobs, that’s bigotry and ignorance, the equivalent of poor Al Campanis’s  infamous statement to Ted Koppel that blacks “lacked the necessities ” to manage a baseball team. If someone says that holding religious beliefs suggests one may have biological disadvantages, then that individual is, of course, an idiot.

Women, however, are biologically different from men. If this was the reasoning behind Demore’s dismissal, then it is an example of regarding fealty to cant and politically correct mythology as more important than dealing with complex realities.

2. Professional Trump apologist Jeffrey Lord reacted with a tweeted Sieg Heil! to  Left Wing attack group Media Matters organizing a boycott of the Fox News star’s sponsors to force Sean Hannity off the air.  CNN responded by firing Lord, saying, “Nazi salutes are indefensible.”

Except that Lord was not performing a Nazi salute, but alluding to it to make the very accurate point that the Media Matters wing of progressive America is anti-free speech, and, Nazi-like, determined to shut down inconvenient dissent. Sieg Heil!, in the context of Lord’s tweet, did not mean “Yay Hitler, and let’s kill some Jews!” but rather “Media Matters embodies fascism of the left.”

Which it does.

This story is just full of detestable people and organizations. Jeffrey Lord is a dishonest hack whom CNN keeps parading before its viewers to pretend that the network is “balanced” in its relentless critical commentary on the President. Typically Lord is the sole defender of the Administration on a panel of multiple virulent critics, presided over by one of CNN’s myriad anti-Trump hosts. Sean Hannity is a knee-jerk conservative without scruples, perception or shame. Media Matters is a left-wing propaganda machine that makes a mockery of the term “media watchdog” by its very existence, and it is not unfair to rate its creator and leader, David Brock, as unstable. And I don’t like Nazi salutes either, though to call them “indefensible” is just plain wrong. They are defensible on the History Channel, to show how Nazis behaved. They are defensible in films like “Valkyrie,” since Tom Cruise’s doomed hero’s reluctant salute was a central theme.

It is defensible in Mel Brooks movies, which feature the salute frequently, to mock the Nazis. It is defensible in “Dr. Strangelove,” to make the running joke that mysterious ex-Nazi genius has a Nazi arm with mind of its own.

And it is defensible to use the Nazi salute derisively to say,”David Brock and Media Matters are fascist in the their methods and attitudes towards free speech.”

CNN’s firing of Lord falsely implied that he was referencing the salute positively. By doing this, the increasingly unprofessional and untrustworthy network was also able to impugn President Trump; after all, if his most visible defender in a Nazi, that makes the President Hitler, right?

In this particular basket of deplorables, CNN may be the most unethical of all. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/30/17

Good Morning!

(I’m starting this post just a few minutes before noon, thank to a WiFi outage. I’m sorry.)

1. I finally saw “Passengers,” which most people and critics seemed to hate. I see no obvious inferiority to the over-praised and honored “The Martian” or “Gravity,” especially the latter, which bored me to tears, but never mind: it’s an ethics movie. It is also a moral luck movie, and that drove me crazy. I’ll bet so many viewers (SPOILER ALERT!) saw the film and came out saying, “She had to forgive him, because if he hadn’t awakened her prematurely to keep him company, everyone would have died!”

No, no, no! His (Chris Pratt’s) conduct toward her (that’s Jennifer Lawrence, and anyone who wrongs Jennifer Lawrence deserves the torments of Hell) was just as bad–and it was horriblewhether it turned out well by chance or not. Subsequent discoveries or unpredictable events cannot make an unethical act retroactively ethical.

2. San Francisco’s Medicaid program sends illegal immigrants this letter:

When the anti-Trump deranged argue that the President is “crazy,” my stock answer is going to be that nothing he has said or done is as “crazy” as the position that it is right and just to officially encourage foreign citizens to breach our borders, defy our sovereignty and break our laws….and the people trying to use the 25th Amendment to execute a coup are exactly the people who think the letter above is compassionate and right. (Believing that a coup is in anyone’s interest is also demonstrably nutsy-cuckoo, but that’s another issue.)

3. I am really going to be disappointed if NPR and PBS don’t get zero-ed out of the budget. I may be stuck with biased and incompetent journalism, but I shouldn’t have to pay for it.

In a segment of NPR’s “All Things Considered” this week (Yes, I generally think the show is excellent, but that’s not the point) about the “restorative justice” approach to campus sexual assault, reporter Tovia Smith quoted Columbia University graduate Emma Sulkowiczs, aka “Mattress Girl,” as a “survivor” of rape.

She’s not a survivor; she was a harasser, and Columbia just paid a financial settlement to her victim for permitting her to proclaim him as a rapist when the evidence didn’t back the claim. Columbia doesn’t believe Sulkowiczs was raped, and her accusation has been thoroughly discredited. Why in the world would NPR choose this cruel and discredited woman to profile while discussing actual campus sexual assault, and how could it be ethical journalism to still refer to her as a rape survivor?

Smith’s tweeted response to criticism was as damning as the choice of “Mattress Girl” itself:

“Sulkowicz considers herself a survivor & we ID her as such. We’ve clarified that their school found the student she accused ‘not responsible.” Continue reading

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From The Ethics Alarms Double Standards Files: The Women-Only “Wonder Woman” Screening [UPDATED]

The infuriating thing is that that not only are they flaming hypocrites, they are self-righteous about it.

Writes the pop culture website Too Fab, a proud young social justice warrior pop culture hangout,

“A “Wonder Woman” screening exclusively for women at the Alamo Drafthouse theater in Austin has pissed off a lot of fragile men.”

No, the outrageous double standard represented by the screening has pissed off anyone with a modicum of ethics comprehension, and should.

If you don’t immediately see the problem, you’re part of it. Even the galactically tone-deaf Hillary Clinton didn’t hold a women-only campaign rally (although her post-campaign rally at the Wellesley College graduation yesterday was pretty close to one.)  Barack Obama’s most rudimentary ethics alarm would have sounded if an aide proposed a blacks-only event. Hey, let’s promote the NFL with a men-only exhibition game! Given their promotional instincts, I’m surprised Alamo Drafthouse theater didn’t have a screening of the racist, “Whites are trying to destroy us all!” horror film “Get Out” restricted to endangered African-Americans, and maybe balance it off with a whites-only classic film screening of “Birth of a Nation.”

The striking aspect of this per se double standard display is that the Left is defending it, and mocking its critics using Swiss-cheese logic worthy of an evolution denier.

Here’s NY Magazine: Continue reading

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“Get Out” Is About Racism, All Right: Anti-White Racism

I was looking forward to “Get Out,” the critically acclaimed horror film that has been described as “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?” crossed with “Rosemary’s Baby.” It has been called “brilliant.” I just watched it on a large flat-screen TV in an Erie, PA. Marriott.

It is not brilliant, except in that it appeals to progressive-biased critics who love its anti-white propaganda. Granted, it is that rare beast,  a political horror movie, the genre best represented by the original “Invasion of the Body-Snatchers,” Don Seigel’s paranoid metaphor about the Red Scare. “Get Out,” however has no surprises worthy of the shock genre. Its basic plot, an innocent, trusting victim finds himself the object of a sick and widespread conspiracy aimed at controlling his mind and taking away his autonomy, is familiar to anyone who has seen “The Stepford Wives,” “The Tommyknockers,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” and too many lesser efforts to mention.

I see a lot of horror movies, good, bad, brilliant and terrible, slasher films, gorefests, zombie and vampire movies, paranormal, discovered footage and scifi/horror hybrids, from the best/worst of Ed Wood, to the genuine masterpieces and soon to be classics. They are an acquired taste, and most critics give all horror movies bad reviews, because they don’t respect the genre and look down on it and the artists that create them. Why did they fall all over themselves praising “Get Out”, particularly since it was not especially original in its horror elements? Easy. It is an anti-white movie.

It is a movie that takes place in a world that lives in the hateful fantasies of Al Sharpton, Maxine Waters, Michelle Obama and Black Lives Matters. Every single white character in the film, and there are over twenty of them, are condescending, rude, clueless bigots, unaware of their microaggressions (which are really macoaggressions) toward African Americans. Every black character, in contrast, is benign, wise, perceptive and fair, or a helpless victim. The guileless young black hero is betrayed at every turn by every white individual he trusts, even the one he loves. Because, you see, that’s what whites are like, that’s how they secretly and not so secretly feel about African Americans, and this is what black Americans need to understand. Continue reading

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Ethics Quiz: Lying To The Dying, Or Trump Derangement Meets “The Magnificent Seven”

In “The Magnificent Seven,” the original classic, not last year’s disappointing re-make, Harry Luck (Brad Dexter) had always been convinced that the real reason the Seven had agreed to help a poor Mexican village fight a predatory bandit band was because the town had a secret treasure to share. (It didn’t.) Harry refuses to join the rest as they make one desperate effort to help the farmers, then at the peak of the gunfire gallops back into the village to join the battle–and is promptly shot. Dying, he begs Chris (Yul Brenner) to confirm his suspicions…

Harry Luck: Chris… I hate to die a sucker. We didn’t come here just to keep an eye on a lot of corn and chili peppers, did we? There was something else all along, wasn’t there?

Chris: Yes, Harry. You had it pegged right all along.

Harry: I knew it. What was it?

Chris: Gold. Sacks of it.

Harry: Sounds… beautiful. How much?

Chris: At least a hundred and fifty.

Harry: My cut would have been what?

Chris: About seventy thousand.

Harry: I’ll be damned. (He dies)

Chris: Maybe you won’t be.

Today’s news has another story involving lying to a dying man, a really stupid story.

Michael Garland Elliott, 75,  died of congestive heart failure in his Oregon home ,surrounded by his caregivers, neighbors and friends.  Right before the end, his ex-wife,spoke with him over the phone from her home in Austin, Texas.

She told him that President Trump had been impeached.   “I knew it was his very, very last moments,” Teresa Elliott told reporters. “I knew that would bring him comfort and it did. He then took his final breath.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

Is it ethical to lie to dying friends and loved ones?

Continue reading

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“Ghost In The Shell” And “Whitewashing”

Once again, a Hollywood film has political correctness furies attacking its casting. This time, it’s the sci-fi “Ghost in the Shell,” starring Scarlett Johansson.

The sad fact is, movie makers can’t win. If a black actor isn’t cast to play a white character in the source material, Hollywood is engaging in bias by eschewing “non-traditional casting,” which is necessary to remedy de facto segregation and prejudice in movies. If Charlton Heston is cast as a Mexican, as in “Touch of Evil,” it’s “whitewashing”—prejudicial and racist casting of whites to play non-whites. Of course, when Morgan Freeman, an African American, is cast to play a dark skinned Semitic character in “Ben Hur,” nobody calls that “blackwashing,” for there is no such thing as blackwashing. Casting Denzel Washington as a white character from “The Pelican Brief”: great! Who doesn’t like Denzel? Casting Denzel as the white hero of “The Magnificent Seven” in the remake, when the white hero was non-traditionally cast with the sort-of Eurasian Yul Brenner in the original, was also great, because—who doesn’t like Denzel?  Casting  Andy Garcia, a Cuban-American, as member of the Italian Corleone family in “Godfather III” was also fine and dandy, but not the casting of sort-of Eurasion Brenner as the King of Siam in “The King and I,” (even though he won the Tony and the Academy Award for an iconic performance)—, especially with all those great Thai musical comedy stars available. So that was–what, “sort-of-whitewashing”?

All right: how about a musical conceived with the novel conceit of having the Founding Fathers played by young black and Hispanic performers? Is that non-traditional casting? Minority-washing? Is it racist to stay with the original (brilliant) concept and tell white actors they can’t audition to be Hamilton, Jefferson, and Aaron Burr? Of course it’s not racist. After all, those actors are white. Screw ’em.

Are you seeing a theme here? Neither am I. What matters in casting a play, film or writing an adaptation is whether the final result works: How well do the actors play their roles? Is it entertaining? Does it make money?

Now the casting of  Johansson as an originally Japanese character in a Japanese manga comic and animated film is being attacked as racist. Whitewashing, you know. No, in fact the words applicable here are “adaptations,” “movies,” “cultural cross-pollination” and “commerce.”  In this case, not always, but in this case, the accusation of “whitewashing” is pure race-baiting.

More than forty years ago, the real life German prison camp escape engineered by captured WWII British fliers was made into the film “The Great Escape.” Brits were annoyed as production got underway, however, by the presence of heroic American prisoners in the cast, the characters played by U.S. stars James Garner and Steve McQueen. This was, British critics and veterans said, an outrage: Americans had nothing to do with the real escape. The answer by the producers contained three segments:

1. We own the film rights, and can do whatever we think will make the best movie.

2. The film is fictionalized, and makes no representations to the contrary.

3. Garner and McQueen will ensure that the film makes a profit in the U.S, plus they are both great and entertaining young stars.

Good justifications all. “The Great Escape,” as we now know,  is a classic, still honored the real event, and made lots of money. Somehow, British self-esteem recovered.

The Brits also didn’t complain when Japan’s great film auteur director, Akira Kurasawa, made an all-Japanese cast adaptation of “King Lear,” which is about a Celtic king. Wasn’t this–what, “yellow-washing”? Don’t be silly: all good stories can be told in myriad ways, in many cultural contexts. “Ghost in the Shell” is a science fiction fantasy. It is not about real people, and the characters were  Japanese because the author and intended audience were Japanese—you know, like the original “King Lear” was in Elizabethan English.

“Ghost in the Shell” director Rupert Sanders cast Johansson as the cyborg assassin named Motoko Kusanagi in the original and renamed the character “Mira Killian.” It is the “Who doesn’t like Denzel?” non-traditional casting principle, except the even more understandable “Who doesn’t like Scarlet, especially when she looks naked for much of the movie?” variation. The perambulations of critics trying to find something racist about the most obvious box office casting choice imaginable border on hilarious. At some point, actress Johansson decided it was more lucrative and fun being the next female action movie star than starring in solemn costume drama bombs like “The Girl With The Pearl Earring” and “The Other Boleyn Girl.” Since then, she has been rising as a bankable star in blockbusters like “The Avenger” films and “Lucy.” Quick: name another hot (I mean, of course, popular and bankable) female action star?

I’m waiting…

Writes Matt Golberg in a laugh riot called “Ghost in the Shell is Racist In Surprising Ways””  (another whitewashing screed, equally lame, is here): Continue reading

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Ethics Dunce: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin

 

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has pledged “not participate personally and substantially in any matter that has a direct and predictable effect on the financial interests” of his financial holdings, without obtaining an official waiver for doing so. He also had advance notice of how a Trump administration figure could breach ethics rules when Kellyanne Conway, in the course of criticizing organized boycotts of First Daughter Ivanka Trump’s merchandise line, blurted out  “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff!” during an interview on “Fox & Friends.”  The Office of Government Ethics and members of   the House Oversight Committee urged disciplinary action for Conway’s clear, if probably inadvertent, ethics violation. (None occurred. It should have.)

Never mind. During a C-Span broadcast interview last week, Secretary Mnuchin was asked for a movie recommendation (this was a set-up, but an easy one to duck), and said,

“I’m not allowed to promote anything that I’m involved in. So I just want to have the legal disclosure, you’ve asked me the question, and I am not promoting any product. But you should send all your kids to ‘Lego Batman.’ “

HAHAHAHAHA!!! ‘I’m not supposed to do this because it’s unethical, but I’ll do it anyway, because ethics rules are silly, the President doesn’t care about them, and besides, Kellyanne got away with it, and so will I!’ Continue reading

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