Morning Ethics Warm-Up, April 3, 2019: Morning Disillusionment And “Morning Joe”

Good morning!

Since this is an ethics blog, I guess I’ll have to confess that it’s really a lousy morning, since I was up until 1 AM watching the Red Sox lose to Oakland 1-0…

1. From the “Why do I bother?” Files. I’ve been complaining (too much, but it makes me feel better) about the precipitous fall in Ethics Alarms traffic  since the Trump Deranged fled the objective discussions here and Facebook decided to make it impossible to post anything I write. Yesterday, I returned to the periodic theme of teachers facing termination when their naked forms pop up on the web, including the controversial photo in question. Because of that post, and not any of the important Ethics Alarms commentary over the past 12 months that were significant and useful, the blog  had its highest traffic total in more than a year. None of the visitors had anything to say or constructive to offer, of course.

This is undoubtedly why Tucker Carlson’s website routinely includes tabloid style cheesecake features, like—let’s see what it is today—Ah! “Celebrate Amanda Bynes’ Birthday With Her Hottest Looks”! Bynes is a fallen ex-child and teen star who has been out of show-business for years because of emotional illness and drug problems.

Stay classy, Tucker.

2.  How constant political correctness immersion rots even superior brains: A case study. One of the smartest, sharpest, BS intolerant people I have ever known or ever will know just posted this approvingly on Facebook:

I am  depressed. These directives from a Montgomery County, MD sponsored community groups are largely idiotic, and like all word policing, efforts at thought and language control. My friend is a parent of two teens, but I would expect  her, of all people, to send them the lesson that they should never capitulate to this kind of sinister conditioning, which is what it is: “The Collective will tell you what you can and cannot say without sanction! Await further instructions.” Almost all of these are awkward, meaningless distinctions of the ” ‘colored people’ BAD, ‘people of color’ GOOD” variety. 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.

 

Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 2/25/ 2019: Martina Navratilova A Gender Bigot? The Founding Fathers Nazis? Art Galleries Discriminating Against The Blind? WHAT’S HAPPENING?????

It would be a good afternoon if EVERYTHING WASN’T SPINNING OUT OF CONTROL!!!!

1. For the record, it appears that Facebook blocking Ethics Alarms posts has cost the site about 30% of its traffic. Mission accomplished, Thought Control Activists!

For now…

2. Did I call this, or what? In  October of 2017 I wrote about another example of tyranny by the disabled, when the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gave Paul McGann, who can neither see not hear, a chance to show that movie theaters must provide him with a “tactile interpreter” under the ADA.

No word yet on how Paul is faring, but last October I wrote about yet another example, as described in the New York Times:

…Eight suits have been filed in federal court in Manhattan over the past two weeks, most recently against Hofstra University on Long Island on Oct. 4. In each case, lawyers for Emanuel Delacruz, who is blind, charged that the college’s website is inaccessible to their plaintiff and therefore in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The filings are part of a growing number of actions involving accessibility and the internet.….Since January 2015, at least 751 lawsuits have been filed over the issue. The vast majority have focused on retailers and restaurants, according to a legal blog that tracks such suits… another website, which includes not only lawsuits but also government investigations into web or technological accessibility, lists 37 schools that have been accused of noncompliance with disability law.

I wrote, in part,

Next? Law suits against art museums for not having audio descriptions of every work exhibited. Law suits against sports stadiums, alleging that the ADA mandates play-by-play being blasted from the ballpark speakers. Then, I suppose, lawsuits against the world for not making being blind a pleasure.

From the Times last week:

“On Dec. 13, a blind Manhattan resident named Henry Tucker filed federal lawsuits against 10 art galleries, saying their websites were not accessible to people who could not see. The galleries’ names included Adam Baumgold Fine Art, Adelson, Agora, Albertz Benda and Acquavella. The next day, Mr. Tucker and his attorneys moved on to the B’s.”

Continue reading

On Perceptions Of Racism

1. “Prehistoric Man.” Above is a musical number from the acclaimed, indeed classic, MGM musical “On the Town,” starring Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Jules Munshin, Ann Miller (the soloist), Vera-Ellen, and Betty Garrett. Questions:

  • Did it make you feel uncomfortable? Why or why not?
  • Should the number make you feel uncomfortable?
  • Is it blackface without blackface? Does the African sculpture late in the number matter? How about those outrageous masks and head gear?
  • If it’s not blackface without blackface, what would be the politically correct objection? That it offends cave men?
  • Would a black performer in the number eliminate any objections to it?

I felt weird about the number the first time I saw it, decades ago. Yesterday, when I watched it again, I really felt uncomfortable, and resented the fact that I did. This is what the culture does to you, whether you like it or not. Is a culture where a silly musical number like “Prehistoric Man” is considered offensive healthier than the culture that spawned it?

2. What planet was Ralph Northam raised on? The Virginia Governor, who has managed to stave off calls for him to resign despite a) wearing blackface in medical school and b) being completely unbelievable in his various explanations of when and why, has also revealed himself to be so ignorant of race issues and history that it boggles the mind that he could have been elected in the first place. Behold:

  • He dressed up using blackface to emulate Michael Jackson.
  • He saw nothing amiss for 30 years in having a photo of a man in blackface (possibly him, though he denies it) and an individual in KKK robes on his medical yearbook page.
  • He had to be told by a campaign worker in 2018 that wearing blackface was considered objectionable and a reference to racist minstrel shows and Jim Crow.
  • He was unaware until recently that the film “Birth of a Nation” is considered racist. To this I have to say, “Whaaa?” A public official should have some minimal knowledge of history, and this is the Governor of Virginia, birthplace of President Woodrow Wilson, who championed both the KKK and “Birth of a Nation.”
  • In his interview with Gayle King on CBS, Northam referred to slaves as “indentured servants.” She had to correct him. At least he didn’t call slaves “unpaid interns.”
  • In his Washington Post interview, Northam somehow managed to hold everyone else responsible for his inexplicable ignorance: “It’s obvious from what happened this week that we still have a lot of work to do. There are still some very deep wounds in Virginia, and especially in the area of equityThere are ongoing inequities to access to things like education, health care, mortgages, capital, entre­pre­neur­ship. And so this has been a real, I think, an awakening for Virginia. It has really raised the level of awareness for racial issues in Virginia. And so we’re ready to learn from our mistakes….First of all what I plan to do . . . is to make sure that we have sensitivity training — in our Cabinet, in our agencies. I also plan to reach out to our colleges and universities and talk about sensitivity training. Even into the K through 12 age range, that’s very important.”

The fact that Northam was and is jaw-droppingly obtuse and ignorant of the history of race in this country does not mean everyone is similarly handicapped.

  • Then the Governor had the gall to say  on CBS, “Virginia needs someone that can heal. There’s no better person to do that than a doctor. Virginia also needs someone who is strong, who has empathy, who has courage and who has a moral compass. And that’s why I’m not going anywhere.”

Ugh. The doctor line is an insult to everyone’s intelligence, and too facile to be accepted with anything but mockery. Doctors heal wounds and illnesses, not social and political maladies. Meanwhile, nothing in Northam’s handling of this scandal shows courage or a moral compass. What it shows is cultural obliviousness, a refusal to accept responsibility, and desperation to hold onto power despite being proven unfit to do so.

Northam doesn’t know racism when he sees it, and such a leader is hardly the one to address the problem.

I bet he’d enjoy “Prehistoric Man.”

 

________________________

Sources: The Hill 1, 2, Buzzfeed, National Review

Show Business Ethics: Sorry, Nobody Feels “Safe” At Auditions

An actress named Ingrid Haas complained about a demeaning experience auditioning for the Super Bowl commercial advertising Bon and Viv Hard Seltzer. In a first-person essay published by Vice titled “My Bikini Audition From Hell Shows How Little Hollywood Has Change,” Haas wrote that she was embarrassed when a male casting employee told the women in the ad’s audition that they would have to dance in front of a camera for 30 seconds. When she asked why they had to dance, she wrote, the man responded: “Welcome to corporate America. This is how we sell stuff.” The actress says that she was proud of herself for refusing to dance, but the experience “humiliated and angered her.” And, of course, she did not get the job.

Anheuser-Busch, which makes the product, is now making politically correct noises and condemned the behavior that Haas described,  insincerely or ignorantly, though the first is more plausible, with Chelsea Phillips, vice president of the company’s Beyond Beer division, telling the media,

“The behavior described in the Vice article is completely unacceptable and goes against everything that our brand and company stand for. I regret that this individual had this experience. Anheuser-Busch does not tolerate any discriminatory or demeaning behavior. I reached out to the production company who produced the commercial, because we hold our business partners to this same standard.”

Baloney. The audition as described was neither atypical, unreasonable,  abusive, nor inappropriate. The ad’s producer’s CEO said,“Each actor was asked to dance at the beginning of their audition as this was a way to show one’s level of confidence.” This is not unusual or wrong. Then he too lapsed into politically correct nonsense: Continue reading

Super Bowl Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 2/3/219…To Remind You That You Can’t Be Serious About Ethics And Support The NFL. Sorry.

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME

...ethics?

Started this post in the morning; now, after another wipeout sick day, I’m trying to get it up before midnight. I’m sorry.

1. As a refresher...here’s last year’s Super Bowl guilt trip. I’d write a fresh one, but believe it or not, I’m still sick and in bed. Key quote:

It’s your choice. If you do choose to cheer on the Pats and the Eagles [this year, the Rams], though, don’t pretend that you don’t know that what you’re really cheering, enabling, and ensuring will keep ruining lives.

Incidentally, NFL TV ratings are way up this year. DEE-FENCE!

2. Today’s blackface news...This is not a parody; academics really are this ridiculous: in New York Times op-ed too dumb to link to, headlined ‘Mary Poppins, and a Nanny’s Shameful Flirting With Blackface,’ Professor Daniel Pollack-Pelzner argues that the scene in the original 1964 film in which Mary cavorts with the chimney sweeps and ends up with her face blackened by soot is racially offensive, because it emulates blackface. Points:

  • This utterly deranged PC nonsense was actually seemed worthy of publication.
  • This tells us the risks parents of today take by entrusting the minds of their children to irresponsible institutions and educators who have devolved into advocates for racial paranoia.
  • Linfield College, in Oregon, employs this lunatic, meaning that its administrators think that someone who watches a fantasy dance number performed by chimney sweeps and sees a racist message can be trusted to teach its students.
  • Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, who collaborated on the 2004 stage adaptation of Mary Poppins that returns to the West End later this year, explained for the benefit of the Times, the crazy professor, and anyone so gullibve as to take either of them seriously, that Mary’s acceptance of the soot on her face is meant to be a gesture of support for the sweeps. “All she wants to do is join the sweeps and show them she isn’t standing apart – that she wants to belong to that group. It’s a touching scene and it displays a warm friendliness towards the sweeps,” he said. Funny, I was able to figure that out when I saw the film the first time, and I was 14-years old.

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/16/19: Blacks With White Privilege, A Home Trump Derangement Test, Defending “Hamilton,” And More…

Got up on the wrong side of the bed today..

…and trying to recover.

1. Finally! The Ultimate Trump Derangement Home Test! This is wonderful, and we owe a debt to CNN for making this available. NeverTrump neocon Max Boot, who has been a “rseistance” ally since the 2016 election and who also writes op-eds for the Washington Post, presented this hilarious—but don’t tell anyone you are using the to test hilarious—visual aid to his recent Post screed:

Isn’t that great? I initially thought it was a Saturday Night Live parody, but how could that be, when SNL is all Trump Derangement All The Time itself? All you have to do is show this to a suspected TDS sufferer, and wait for the response. Hearty laughter followed by something along the lines of,” Wow! I didn’t think even CNN would stoop this low, but there it is!”, and you know your friend or family member has escaped the jaws of madness. If the subject’s reaction is to point and shout, “See! See! I told you the election was rigged!”, then it’s time for cold compresses and a 911 call.

Once again, I miss the fevered passion of the self-exiled Trump Deranged commenters on Ethics Alarms, to see exactly how far gone they are, if they are. Hilarity was bound to ensue.

I was tempted to do a whole post showing how every one of Boot’s “reasons” are strained circumstantial evidence at best or utter nonsense at worst, but two words, “confirmation bias,” pretty much covers it, along with a third, “desperation.” Meanwhile, just as self-amusement, I’m working on the list of reasons why Max Boot might be a Russian agent. So far I have Dilbert’s Scott Adams’ observation that while the pitiful Russian fake news on social media couldn’t divide the country, hysterical anti-Trump conspiracy theorists are doing a good job serving Russian interests by undermining the Presidency; Max’s “Boot” code name, which evokes George Orwell’s’ famous metaphor for Communist totalitarianism; and that Curly Howard hair cut, the choice of international anti-democracy villains in James Bond films,  “The Man From U.N.C.L.E,” TV’s “The Black List” and everything in between.

That’s only three, though. Suggestions welcome.

2. Is this good news or bad news? “Family Guy,” Seth McFarland’s nastier, cheaper, uglier rip-off of “The Simpsons,” has announced that it will be “phasing out” homophobic jokes. It’s certainly good news if this includes the disgusting and unfunny running gag about the old man next door to “The Family Guy” who has sexual designs on Peter’s idiot son, I guess. The problem is that the only feature of “The Family Guy” that made its intentionally tasteless and offensive humor excusable was that the show was cruel and unfair to everyone, pretty much equally. If the show is now bowing to victim-group pressure, how long will it be before its only targets are white men, conservatives, Fox News and Donald Trump?

If McFarland and the show are now afraid of being politically incorrect when political incorrectness is a career death sentence for everyone else, then it should just kill the show, rather than wander the airwaves hollowed out and submissive like the brainwashed Winston Smith at the end of “1984.”

Oh-oh. Second Orwell reference already today… Continue reading