Today’s Dumb Woke Hollywood Casting Question: “Why Does Hollywood Keep Using Fat Suits?” [Corrected]

The New York Times today decides to try a new frontier in the woke casting double standard adventure—you know, the incoherent theory that minority actors should be considered for all roles and all character types regardless of sex, race, size or physical characteristics, but it is unethical for white performers to play any character that they have to act and use make-up to evoke. You know, like good Hollywood liberal Tom Hanks claimed when he issued his recent  mea culpa for playing a gay, AIDS battling lawyer in “Philadelphia.”  So, using the same logic, Tom must have been equally hostile to “diversity, equity and inclusion” when he took a role away from some brilliant, unknown actor with a 75 IQ to play Forrest Gump, just as an autistic actor should have starred in “Rain Man” instead of Dustin Hoffman.

Suuuure. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The Great Stupid often has that effect on me. Sorry.

The Times’ query, in the headline to a column by Arts Section pundit , is “Why Does Hollywood Keep Using Fat Suits?” Gee, it’s a mystery! And come to think of it, why does Hollywood keep using make-up? Special effects? Fake blood?

Here’s a much tougher question: why does the New York Times let people who know nothing about performing, entertainment, business, audiences, comedy, and casting write columns like this? Continue reading

From Acceptance To Celebration: An Ethics Conflict (Don’t Bother Trying To Explain This To Bill Maher)

With his uncanny instinct for taking bows for making an obvious observation while missing the point, pseudo-comic Bill Maher once again engaged in his favorite topic of fat-shaming last week, this time with a “Eureka!” to share. The U.S. has inexplicably gone from fat acceptance to “fat celebration,” which the HBO wit <gag!choke!> calls a “disturbing trend.”

This isn’t a “trend,” nor is it disturbing, and it isn’t a phenomenon confined to obesity. Bill could have educated his audience—which, as usual, arfed and clapped like the human seals they are—but instead ignored the real problem, which is partially fueled by people like him.

And it’s an ethical one. Society’s goal is to make the human beings within it safe and happy. This requires setting standards, much of which it accomplishes with law and law enforcement, and the rest it pursues by making values, virtues and positive, societally beneficial conduct clear. Society then encourages and rewards those who meet those standards, and shames, disapproves and rejects those who defy them.

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Bias Also Makes Philosophers Stupid

Kate Manne, an associate professor of philosophy at Cornell University, is tired of dieting, so she tied herself up into rhetorical knots and rationalizations to argue that dieting is “immoral.” She also allowed herself to be published doing so.

How embarrassing. This is one reason why philosophy is a dying field, albeit slowly: how can anyone trust someone who masks pure self-interest in philosophical theory?

Manne writes,

I recognize that even if you are a fat person who would be healthier if you lost weight, you don’t owe it to anyone to do so; you don’t owe it to anyone to be healthy in general. And I know how much my internalized fatphobia owes to oppressive patriarchal forces — the forces that tell girls and women in particular to be small, meek, slight, slim and quiet.

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Oh, This Will Be Fun! How Ignorant And Misleading Was David Frum’s Vicious Attack On President Trump’s Physical Condition? [PART I]

Answer: Spectacularly ignorant and misleading.

As you know, I love fake history about the Presidents, a specialty on CNN. Add to this the feature that Atlantic contributor and former Bush speechwriter David Frum–he’s also a prominent NeverTrumper, as are virtually all former members of the Bush camp—had his gratuitous ad hominem attack outburst on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” fake media ethicist Brain Stelter’s reliably unreliable bias-fest, and debunking Frum’s blather is  like Christmas morning for me.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

Here’s what Frum said:

“One of the ideas that Donald Trump tried to spread in 2016 is that Hillary Clinton was somehow physically incapable of managing the presidency. It’s audacious, Donald Trump was the oldest presidents ever, one of the fattest presidents ever, the least physically capable president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was in a wheelchair…He can’t pick up a ball, never mind throw it. But he was able to put in the minds of tens of millions of people the idea that Hillary Clinton, who is a very vigorous woman in good health, was somehow too sick to be president.”

First up, Frum’s mischaracterization of Hillary’s health issues. She had episodes of uncontrolled coughing fits throughout the 2016 campaign, and actually collapsed during a 9/11 event in New York while suffering a bout of pneumonia. Then she lied about it, until video made it necessary to admit she was ill. When a candidate tries to cover up the truth about her health, her health becomes a legitimate issue. This would be true no matter who the candidate was.

Another easy one is Frum’s absurd remarks about how Trump can’t pick up or throw a ball, wherever that came from. This is the kind of statement that would be defamatory if it wasn’t about the President—I’m up on my defamation law after having to defend myself against a defamation suit for the past two years. That’s the kind of inherently slanderous  allegation that suggests unrevealed sources or evidence that the listener has no access to, when in fact such evidence doesn’t exist, because the claim is malicious and false. The President is constantly criticized for playing golf—and he cheats at it, according to Mike Bloomberg’s billboards—but he can’t pick up a ball? What proof does Frum have that Trump, who played baseball as a young man, can’t throw a ball now? Frum made all that up.

Now comes my favorite part, Frum’s claims about where Trump fits in the spectrum of Presidential health. As a starting point, all that matters is that a President is healthy enough and able enough to do his job, and by the evidence of the results so far, that’s not a problem. The health of other Presidents have been a problem for them in discharging their duties, as we shall see.

The oft-stated point that Trump was the oldest President at the time of his election is true, but misleading. He was 70 when he was elected, but the significance of age is relative, as well as what constitutes “old” in our society. The average life expectancy of a white male in the US today (and in 2016) is just under 80; if you make it to 70, your life expectancy jumps into the mid-80s. Many Presidents before Trump were well over the nation’s life expectancy for their demographic group when they were elected, including all of the 19th century Presidents, who were relatively “older” than Trump.

In fact, it wasn’t until 1920, when Warren G. Harding was elected, that a President wasn’t over the average mortality age, and Harding was right at it: 54. He also died in office, three years later. Herbert Hoover became the first US President to be elected at a younger age than the average age of death for white males,  in 1928. After that, no American President has been elected after he reached the average morality age.

Is Trump one of the fattest Presidents? No doubt about it, but he’s also in a group of hefty Presidents who were all about the  same degree of obese. Here is a chart of the fattest Presidents as measured by their body mass index, which admittedly is a blunt instrument, not distinguishing between muscle mass and fat:

So it is fair to say that Trump is in the top 25% of overweight Presidents, and who cares? Of the porky POTUSes on the list, only Zachary Taylor wasn’t able to complete his term, and there is no evidence that his weight had anything to do with his demise.  Among the Presidents ahead of Trump on the fat list is Theodore Roosevelt, who nobody ever dared call “fat” when he was running amuck across the political landscape, not while he was climbing mountains and seemingly in perpetual motion.  In short, that part of Frum’s rant is pure cheap shot.

I’ll debunk the best part of Frum’s garbage in Part 2.

Observations (And A Poll!) On The Lizzo-Jillian Michaels Bodyshaming Controversy

“The Biggest Loser” trainer Jillian Michaels was being interviewed on the Buzzfeed series “AM to DM” when she opined, “We should always be inclusive, but, you cannot glorify obesity. It’s dangerous. It kills people.”

Well, of course she believes that. She’s a trainer. Her business is fitness, so it would be hypocritical if she said that it didn’t matter if people aren’t fit.

Interviewer Alex Berg , however, cited the  example of African American singer Lizzo, who is unquestionably obese and who flaunts her fat.  Michaels was unimpressed, saying,

“Why are we celebrating her body? Why does it matter? Why aren’t we celebrating her music? ‘Cause it isn’t going to be awesome if she gets diabetes,” Michaels said. “I’m just being honest. I love her music, like my kid loves her music, but there’s never a moment when I’m like, ‘I’m so glad she’s overweight.’ Why do I even care? Why is it my job to care about her weight?”

Berg later tweeted,

What I was going to say here is that Lizzo has been incredibly important in giving so many of us a possibility model for accepting our bodies as we are and celebrating bodies that are normally ridiculed. Had to restrain myself from defending Lizzo’s honor!

Now Michaels is being flamed on social media as a fat-shaming bigot. Oh–and a racist of course, because she is white and Lizzo is black. I’m not even going to address that, as there is no question in my mind that if Berg had mentioned an overweight white singer like Wynonna Judd or Adele, Michaels would have said the same thing.

I will observe, however… Continue reading

Rushing Out The Door Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/11/2019!

Hello, I Must Be Going…

This will be quick…

1. Hoping it was a mistake, fearing it was not. When I wrote about how David Ortiz’s post-baseball life before his near-fatal shooting was full of nothing but promising options, I was not including “having an extra-marital affair with a Dominican crime boss’s wife” among them. Yet that’s the story coming out of Santo Domingo: Big Papi was the target of a hit. Ugh. Maybe it was all a big misunderstanding….

2. I could have written two separate posts about these ridiculous and ethicallyiaddled New York Times op-eds, but I’ll leave it to you:  first up is this thing, as an illegal immigration advocate uses the tit-for-tat and Sicilian ethics rationalizations to argue that letting foreign nationals cross our borders illegally is just reparations for what the United States owes “to other countries for their colonial adventures, for the wars they imposed on them, for the inequality they have built into the world order, for the excess carbon they have dumped into the atmosphere.” By all means, take your best shot at explaining why this theory is nuts, and then explain to me why any respectable newspaper would think it is worth publishing. Then Jamele Bouie, the former Slate race-baiting specialists whose extreme rants were so absurd, the Times decided to make him a regular columnist, issued this, in which he argues for sinking Marbury vs Madison and stopping the Supreme Court from blocking unconstitutional laws, because, you know, the people know best, even though most of them couldn’t name three entries in the Bill of Rights. It would make it easier to Leftist totalitarian regime to take over, though. Or, you moron, a conservative one.

Let’s have a poll!

3. I see fat people...As I’m sure you have noticed, more and more ads and TV commercials are featuring actors who range from chunky to obese. This is in response to the long-standing complaints that the media causes eating disorders and poor self-esteem by promoting unrealistic standards for female bodies. Now, we have a deadly obesity epidemic, and ads are sending the message that it’s normal to be fat. Is this really an improvement?

Ugh..late. Gotta run..back soon!

Halloween Ethics: Fat-Shaming Kids in Fargo

halloween letter

UPDATE: There is some persuasive, if not conclusive evidence that “Cheryl” is a hoax. As usual in such cases, my analysis is the same regarding the conduct whether it actually occurred or is merely hypothetical. All forms of media hoaxes are unethical, unless they are obvious or flagged by the perpetrator before other media picks them up as factual. I detest them, and I detest those who create them.

____________________________________

If she follows through as promised, a Fargo Morehead, West Fargo, N.D. woman we know only as “Cheryl” will be handing out fat-shaming letters to trick-or-treating children who in her unsolicited opinion are too fat. The letter, sealed but certain to be read, if not immediately recognized, given the pre-October 31st publicity, by the unlucky children receiving them tells parents of the costumed kids she considers porkers that they need to do a better job parenting.

Cheryl is a presumptuous, meddling jerk, and if I got handed such a letter by my child, Cheryl would have to worry about a lot more than toilet paper in her trees and flaming bags of poop on her doorstep. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Fat-Bashing Film Critic Rex Reed

melissa_Elle

Actress Melissa McCarthy stole the film “Bridesmaids” right out from under its better known stars, including the screenplay’s author, Kirsten Wigg. In that film, her hit CBS sitcom “Mike and Molly,” and subsequent films (of varying quality), McCarthy has shown that she is s versatile, appealing comedienne with deep dramatic resources. Film critic Rex Reed, however, is mostly concerned with her weight, which is usually a component of the characters she plays and the quality, other than her talent, that sets her apart from the standard issue, impossibly thin, fit and sexy Hollywood actress.

In his withering review of her latest comedy “Identity Thief,” Reed causally refers to McCarthy as a “female hippo” and reduces her career to this: “Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) is a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success.” Called on his fat-bashing, Reed responded, “I have lost entirely too many friends to obesity-related diseases to pretend Ms. McCarthy’s alarming obesity is anything to applaud.”

There are two aspects of this that are striking. One is that Rex Reed, who played the pre-op Myra Breckenridge in the awful movie version of Gore Vidal’s gender-bending, and considered scandalous at the time, satiric novel (Raquel Welch, now over 70, was post-op), is still alive and reviewing, albeit obscurely until, as now, he writes something outrageous. At one time—40 years ago? Longer?— Reed was considered the most quotable and one of the most influential film critics; now, to say he is passé would be a compliment.

The other striking aspect of this incident is this:  while the culture will turn with unforgiving venom on any public figure who derides individuals for their color, sexual orientation, malady or disability, any of which would be considered cruel, bigoted, and hateful, deriding individuals because their weight doesn’t meet with aesthetic norms—among which are now out-sized breasts on otherwise fat-free frames and sharply chiseled abdominal muscles, a look that was literally freakish until the dawn of Nautilus and personal trainers—-still is largely regarded as justified and acceptable. Continue reading

Medical Ethics: The Insideousness of Bias

Obesity biasThe New York Times had an enlightening article about bias in its Science section this week. Apparently a study of the interactions between patients and their primary care physicians suggests that doctors are more pleasant, encouraging, empathetic, kinder—just nicer, in short—to their normal weight patients than they are to those who are obese.

From the article:

‘“It’s not like the physicians were being overtly negative or harsh,” said the lead author, Dr. Kimberly A. Gudzune, an assistant professor of general internal medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. “They were just not engaging patients in that rapport-building or making that emotional connection with the patient.” …While such expressions of concern and empathy are not remarkable on their own, what was surprising was how absent they were in conversations with overweight and obese patients. And statements like these are no small thing. Studies show that patients are far more likely to follow a doctor’s advice and to have a better health outcome when they believe their doctor empathizes with their plight.

‘“When there is increased empathy by the doctor, patients are more likely to report they are satisfied with their care, and they are more likely to adhere to recommendations of physicians,” Dr. Gudzune said. “There is evidence to show that after visits with more empathy, patients have improved clinical outcomes, so patients with diabetes have better blood sugar control or cholesterol is better controlled.”’

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Comment of the Day: “The Ethics of Bloomberg’s Soft Drink Ban”

Peter, who is a physician, a libertarian, and one of my oldest friends (we met in the 6th grade) from Arlington, Massachusetts, generously responded to my request for his professional expertise and philosophical perspective regarding the New York City soda ban.  Here is his thoughtful response, the Comment of the Day, on the post The Ethics of Bloomberg’s Soft Drink Ban: 

“It has become a reflex response to answer adverse circumstances with more regulation. To a lawyer, there is always a law, or regulation for any and every misstep in human behavior. Of course, we forget that we cannot predict the unintended consequences, not even to mention reviewing the effects of the laws we pass to determine if they are even having the INTENDED effect. Somehow, we believe that it is appropriate to pass laws to deny other people’s freedoms due to the “discomfort” of whiny types who have the connections and persistence to keep whining until they can get someone to pass a law. The consequence of such legislation’s continued passage, at ever more confiscatory levels of our liberties, is that we are legislating our way into a police state, and the widespread acceptance of the idea that it’s OK to deny personal liberty because it makes someone else “uncomfortable.” Again, as RR so aptly pointed out, “the government that is big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have.” And this goes for not just your personal assets, but your freedoms as well.

“That said, in this context, yes, drinking lots of sugary sodas will make you fat, smoking will kill you, too much alcohol will kill you, doing extreme sports can kill you, and so on. And as long as one’s decisions affect only himself, have at it. However, when you want me to pay, through my insurance premiums, and my taxes, for the consequences of your stupidity, you cede the sovereignty of your decision to others beside yourself. If you want to ride your motorcycle without a helmet, while drunk, sure, do it. Just don’t expect me to pay the costs of your head injury. Continue reading