Monday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/11/2019: Weenies, Bubba The Love Sponge, Fake Citizens, A Heroic Jaguar And Captain Marvel

Our hero! (Item #6)

Good Morning!

1. Synchronicity! Note that today’s first post and yesterday’s last one (on “peer pressure”) essay are integrally related. I had thought, or hoped, that the latter would prompt considerable discussion, but to the contrary: all commenting has seemingly dried up. Surely Facebook’s embargo can’t be THAT effective. Well, I’ve never understood the ebb and flow here, and lately I understand it less than ever.

2. Nah, Democrats don’t want open borders! While House Democrat  were in the midst of  passing HR1, the entirely symbolic “elections reform” bill that is an open admission that loose election controls elect Democrats,  Republicans  forced a vote on proposed language stating:  “Allowing illegal immigrants the right to vote devalues the franchise and diminishes the voting power of United States citizens.”

All but 6 Democrats voted against the addition. All but one Republican voted for it.

3. Stop making me defend Tucker Carlson! Media Matters, the one-way-only media watchdog that makes its opposite number “Newsbusters,” look like a paragon of objectivity by comparison, pulled a version of the Hader Gotcha! on Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson. Instead of unearthing old tweets to attack him, MM found audio of old interviews with Tampa shock jock “Bubba the Love Sponge” during  which Carlson made some less than nuanced comments that Media Matters pronounced “misogynist” and “sexist.” Some were; most were not. Media Matters, like the party it swears allegiance to, is addicted to gender-baiting: Carlson’s belief that rape shield laws “totally unfair” is a valid opinion that many non-sexists, including me, agree with.

To Tucker’s credit, he responded to Media Matters’ hit with this statement: mailed to the Washington Post:

“Media Matters caught me saying something naughty on a radio show more than a decade ago. Rather than express the usual ritual contrition, how about this: I’m on television every weeknight live for an hour. If you want to know what I think, you can watch. Anyone who disagrees with my views is welcome to come on and explain why.”

Adds Althouse, “I’m resistant to getting excited about something somebody said years ago because somebody is telling me that’s what everyone is supposed to get excited about today.”

4. Speaking of Althouse...she does an epic job taking apart Democratic hopeful John Hickenlooper, until recently Governor of Colorado, who exposed himself on “Face the Nation” yesterday as a mealy-mouthed weenie who if he lasts until the debates, will be this cycle’s version of Lincoln Chaffee.

Here’s the cringe-producing transcript. Hickenlooper isn’t just mealy-mouthed (Ann’s description), he’s a coward. He wants to run as a moderate but is afraid to say he’s a moderate, choosing instead to argue against “labels.” The best is this part:

GOV. HICKENLOOPER: Well try- if I’ve tried to avoid this all the labeling that goes on. You know, I mean…. I’m running for president because I believe I could beat Donald Trump… but I also believe that can bring us together on the other side and begin getting stuff done. And that’s one thing I think that I bring to the table is I’m a doer. I’m not someone who’s- I mean I’m a dreamer too and I- I believe in big visions….

Snarks Althouse, most appropriately: “A doer who’s a dreamer, a dreamer of big visions. In his dreams, he beats Donald Trump. Noted. ” Continue reading

More Casting Ethics Madness: “Colorism” And Will Smith

Perusing the Ethics Alarms essays on casting ethics (there are a lot of them), I think I finally understand the rules. It’s wrong to cast a black actor to play a black character when the original character was white, but if the black character is playing a white character as white, that’s OK. Casting an African-American actor to play a fictional Arab sheik in “Ben-Hur” is fine, but casting a black Samoan-American as fictional black icon John Henry is unacceptable. It’s wrong to cast an abled actor to play a disabled character, wrong to cast a cis actress to play a real life woman who pretended to be a man, wrong to cast that same actress to play an animated heroine who was originally drawn as Japanese, but brilliant to cast black and Puerto Rican actors to play Alexander Hamilton and the Founders. Oh! I nearly forgot! It’s wrong to cast a white actor to replace a black actor who replaced a white actor playing the role of a white character.

Clear?

Now we have a casting ethics controversy that has raised its empty head before: Will Smith is on the verge of being cast to play Serena and Venus Williams’ father Richard in a film, and critics and social justice warriors are calling it “colorism,” because Smith isn’t as dark and the tennis stars’ dad.  Black sports writer Clarence Hill Jr tweeted, “Colorism matters..love will Smith but there are other black actors for this role..” Another indignant political correctness warrior  (in Great Britain) wrote, “Why are they whitewashing the dad with Will Smith? Colourism is constantly subconsciously fed to us and we just eat it up…”

“Colorism” is unethical because, the BBC tells us, because

“It can lead to a lack of representation in film, TV and fashion, particularly in Hollywood and Bollywood, as well as discrimination at work or on dating sites, and even to serious health problems from skin bleaching creams.”

Except, you know, casting Smith as Williams isn’t colorism. It is “casting a prominent actor for the role who will put fannies in the seats-ism.” Who cares how dark or light Richard Williams is? What does his skin shade have to do with the reason he’s worthy of a film portrayal? Would Venus and Serena be better or worse athletes if he were the shade of Will Smith?

The “colorism” argument has come-up before, in the controversy over The Rock playing John Henry, and when not-sufficiantly black actress Zoe Saldana was cast to play singer Nina Simone, and wore dark make-up to resemble her.

I’m pretty sure that I’ve finally figured out what’s going on. Just as rape isn’t about sex but about asserting power, so the progressive complaints about casting aren’t truly about race, or color, or fairness, or white-washing, or any of the supposed justifications for manufactured outrage. They virtually always for the purpose of asserting and cementing the power to bend others to their will, to establish the precedent that whatever they demand, even when it is the opposite of what they may have demanded in the day before, even if it is obvious that they are making up the rules as they go along, must be accepted. It is the equivalent of an abusive boss ordering a subordinate to strip, get down on all fours, and bark like a dog.  They do it because they can.

The only way to end this nonsense is to defy it, but as we have seen in most of the casting controversies, since actors are generally too shallow and too cowardly to articulate ethical principles much less take a stand in favor of them, the actor who is the target of the complaint usually grovels an apology and withdraws. I’m hoping that Smith is made of sterner stuff, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

 

The 2019 Oscar “In Memoriam” Snubs [UPDATED!]

Ethics Alarms has been cataloguing the infuriating omissions from the Oscar “In Memoriam” segment for several years. Why does it matter? Well, curtain calls are important to me, as are the lives of major film artists generally. I believe that the final bows of those screen artists who perished during the year have been earned with blood, sweat, tears, crippling anxieties and addictions, and their families and fans want to see that last acknowledgment from the industry they toiled for. Once the fleeting clip of a dead actress, actor or other movie figure is over, each recedes slowly in the culture’s memory to eventual oblivion, which is the real death for the once-famous.

There is no good reason they shouldn’t get that final moment. The inexplicable omissions, and there are several every year, are not oversights. They are deliberate. The Academy knows who died, and a complete list is on its website. The whole segment takes only a few minutes. Last night’s version, like the rest of the streamlined broadcast, was less leisurely than usual, but adding in the fallen few left out would have made no difference to the whole comparable to the insults and cruelty it would have avoided.

Here were 2019’s most upsetting “In Memoriam” snubs:

Stanley Donen

How hard would it have been to include a quick clip from “Singin’ in the Rain,” the all-time classic he directed with Gene Kelly, perhaps the most entertaining movie of all? Donen, who received a Lifetime Achievement Oscar, also directed “Charade,” “Damn Yankees,” and many other important films, including “Two For The Road,” a clip of which was shown to mark the passing of Albert Finney, who was, quite properly, accorded the honor of the last bow in this “In Memoriam.”

The excuse given for Donen’s snub was that he died last Tuesday. There was time to add him; of course there was. The producers just didn’t care enough to make the effort.

Sandra Locke

This one was especially cruel. If you know anything about the way Clint Eastwood treated Locke, his long-time live-in girlfriend and his frequent co-star, you are probably not quite as big a fan of Clint as you might be otherwise. Locke was very good when she had decent material to work with. Her film debut in 1968’s The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter  got her nominated for an Academy Award  for Best Supporting Actress, and she starred in many films, the most successful with Eastwood. From October 1975 until April 1989, Locke she lived with actor.   Locke had two abortions in that period, then had a tubal ligation, stating in her autobiography that her decision to have the procedures was due to Eastwood’s insistence that their art and lifestyle wouldn’t allow parenthood. Eastwood, meanwhile, secretly fathered another woman’s two children during the last three years of their relationship.

Nice guy.

Eastwood ended the virtual marriage with Locke when he changed the locks on their Bel-Air home. Locke filed a palimony suit, and after a year-long legal battle, the parties reached a settlement in which Eastwood set up a film development/directing deal for Locke at Warner Bros. in exchange for her dropping the action. (Clint also got married, after refusing to marry Locke during all of those years together.) Locke sued Eastwood for fraud in 1995, alleging that the deal with Warner was a sham. The studio had rejected all of the 30 or more projects she proposed and never used her as a director. She also claimed that Eastwood had, in essence, blacklisted her.  Eastwood settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.  Locke brought a separate action against Warner Bros. for conspiring with Eastwood, and this also was settled.

I got the horrible feeling that Locke’s snub was somehow a continuation of the industry’s mistreatment of Locke, who barely worked again after Clint dumped her. Continue reading

They May Tear Down Robert E. Lee, But They’ll Never Get The Duke

I had been expecting the anti-American, anti-male, statue-toppling, historically and culturally ignorant political correctness mob to come after the late John Wayne, known by his friends as “Duke,”  for quite a while. After all, a major airport in L.A. is named after him, he was a controversial conservative at many times during his career, he was frequently vilified by the Left, and in his films he epitomized the virtues, values and legends the United States was built on, and that modern progressives now deride.

Yesterday there was a flurry on social media over a more than 40-year old Playboy interview Wayne gave during one of his many surges of renewed popularity in his career, an epic achievement that saw him remain a top movie star longer than any other actor or actress, even decades after his death. In the interview, Wayne made some ill-advised, even dumb comments, especially about Native Americans: I thought so at the time. Playboy was lapping up the culture wars and people actually paid attention to it then. The magazine always tried to lead its subjects into headline-making quotes, and the Duke complied on that occasion by often sounding like the character he played on screen…you know, from the 19th Century. Wayne occasionally let his real persona peek through his carefully crafted and maintained screen image, but not often. In truth, the real John Wayne, or Marion Morrison, as he said he still thought of himself, was a smart, well-educated, well-read moderate conservative (by today’s standards) who was capable of great nuance in his political views. He was a fanatic chess player who preferred a blazer and slacks to cowboy boots, and, as he proved when the Harvard Lampoon invited him to their Ivy lair to ridicule and ended up laughing with him and cheering, he could hold his own in a debate.

John Wayne is one of a surprisingly few Hollywood actors who qualify as genuine cultural icons. He is in a tiny group that includes Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, Mickey Mouse and a few others we could argue about, like Fred Astaire. Toppling icons is what radicals and revolutionaries do; it’s essential to their attempts to destroy the culture. I’m pretty sure the Duke is beyond their reach, especially if the best they can  find to try to shoot him down is an old Playboy interview when he was in his waning years. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/25/19: Fleas, Fake Movies, False Equivalency, And Female Bigotry

Good Morning!

1. Roger Stone’s arrest a) Stone is a thoroughly loathsome individual—the man has Richard Nixon’s face tattooed on his back, for heaven’s sake—but like the Mueller investigation generally, his arrest seems more like continued politically-motivated harassment of anyone connected to Donald Trump in order to isolate and impede his Presidency rather than part of a legitimate and independent investigation. Stone’s indictment is substantially made up of the now-familiar “obstruction of justice” bootstrap regarding an investigation of a non-crime charge. In Watergate, there was a crime. In the Clinton impeachment, there was a crime (a President lying under oath). In the Valerie Plame fiasco, there was at least a sort-of crime. Even Martha Stewart’s “obstruction of justice” conviction was related to the crime of insider-trading. “Collusion” isn’t a crime, and if Stone lied to Congress about the degree to which he was communicating heads-ups to the Trump campaign about what Wikileaks had and was about to release, that has no implications of wrongdoing for the Trump campaign at all. Stone telling the Trump campaign, “Hey, Wikileaks has a bunch of DNC emails that show Hillary’s campaign was sleazy and that the Clinton Foundation is an influence peddling scam!” isn’t illegal, it isn’t unethical, and I doubt that this sort of communication is unusual for any campaign in any party. b) CNN cameras were on the scene when Stone was arrested, which means the FBI or the Mueller team leaked to CNN. Now THAT’s unethical, and possibly illegal. c) Once again, President Trump’s persistent failure to avoid close contact with obvious slime-balls has caused problems. “Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas” : It’s not a hard concept to grasp, but for a man who was raised and rose to wealth and power in the dog-dominated worlds of real estate, hotels, casinos, show business and now politics, I suppose its hard to imagine NOT being surrounded by the metaphorically flea-infested.

2. Integrity watch: OK, I no longer know what a “movie” is. Netflix is streaming “Roma,” which was just nominated for a “Best Picture” Oscar. It has sold no tickets, and as far as I can see, is indistinguishable from any movie-length TV program, like the Christmas drama that spawned “The Waltons,” “The Homecoming.” I though movies were things shown in theater with big screens by projectors. Netflix’s “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” (which is terrific) also got some Oscar nominations. Are Hallmark Christmas weepies now eligible for Oscars? To me, those are “TV shows.” Continue reading

Martin Luther King Day Ethics Warm-Up: The Hate And Hypocrisy Edition

It seems wrong, I’ll agree, to concentrate on hate on a day we put aside to commemorate the civil rights leader who managed to accomplish so much by explicitly rejecting hate, despite how much of it was aimed at him and his cause. I think it’s  hypocritical for American society in its current state to pretend to celebrate the life of Dr. King, when they are in the process of rejecting–enthusiastically rejecting–so many of his ideals. It was hypocritical for our society to pretend to celebrate Christmas, too, now that I think about it.

1 You want to see hate? THIS is hate. Blogger James Bovard collected photos from the Women’s March. The civil rights marchers had a lot more to be angry about, but somehow, thanks to Dr. King’s leadership, they managed to avoid displays like these..

But my favorite, I think, is this one… 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