Tales From The “Ick!” Files: If Luke Married Leia…

Luke and Leia

Emily Yoffe, who is not Ethics Alarms’ favorite advice columnist, gets one right at Slate—a weird one, but then, that’s the only kind of question she usually chooses to answer. If I had to bet, I’d place my money on this question being a fake. Emily acknowledges that possibility, but couldn’t pass this one up, and neither can I.

A loving husband who already knew that both he and his wife (it was virtually love at first sight when they met in college) were raised by lesbian parent couples who conceived via sperm donors found out that they both have the same donor to thank for their conception. Now he thinks “sister” every time he sees his spouse, and ask 1) what should he do? and 2) should he tell his wife that he has learned that they are half-siblings? Yoffe tells this poor guy to stop feeling guilty, and that he hasn’t done anything wrong. She also advises him to get some counseling, and to suck it up and tell sis about their dilemma….but not to reveal the secret to their kids, Anteater Boy and Tilly the Boneless. Continue reading

Greedo Ethics

Who shot first?

Jedi Emeritus George Lucas betrayed a warped concept of cowboy ethics, self-defense and ethics generally in a recent Hollywood Reporter interview in which he was quizzed about his technological fixes on the original Star Wars trilogy. The topic was the shooting of Greedo in the bar, when Han Solo blasts away at the green, fishy porcupine-like villain, who has a gun pointed at him:

Lucas: Well, it’s not a religious event. I hate to tell people that. It’s a movie, just a movie. The controversy over who shot first, Greedo or Han Solo, in Episode IV, what I did was try to clean up the confusion, but obviously it upset people because they wanted Solo [who seemed to be the one who shot first in the original] to be a cold-blooded killer, but he actually isn’t. It had been done in all close-ups and it was confusing about who did what to whom. I put a little wider shot in there that made it clear that Greedo is the one who shot first, but everyone wanted to think that Han shot first, because they wanted to think that he actually just gunned him down.

Lucas’s idea of what constitutes a “cold-blooded killer” runs counter to law, common sense, and ethics. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Steven Spielberg

The dwarf in the cloth monkey suit is just fine, thanks.

In a long, entertaining interview in the current issue of Entertainment (naturally!), director Steven Spielberg expresses regret over his decision to change his 1982 classic “E.T.” for its 2002 re-release, and vows never to do such a thing again. Here he splits off from the philosophy of his pal George Lucas, who continues to fiddle with his past films as technological upgrades become possible. Spielberg:

My philosophy is now that every single movie is a signpost of its time, and it should stand for that. We shouldn’t go back and change the parting of the Red Sea in Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments” just because with the digital tools we have now we can make it even more spectacular than it was.” Continue reading

The Huffington Post Bloggers’ Lament

There is ethical indignation in Left-leaning Blogger Land, where Ariana Huffington’s Huffington Post just got $315 million to become part of AOL’s media stable.  The six-year-old  online news site supplements its staff of 2oo with an estimated 3000 volunteer bloggers of widely varying talent, reliability, and sanity. Those writers, who traded periodic contributions to “HuffPo” in exchange for more traffic and notoriety than they would have received in months of laboring, pajama-clad, on their own obscure sites, now are loudly complaining that they were exploited. Their unpaid labor built the site into a multi-million dollar asset, they cry, and yet Ariana is pocketing all of the profits. Where is the justice in that? There is talk of boycotts and mass defections. Continue reading

More Zombie Ethics: George Lucas, Re-Animator

It seems that cinema innovator and mega-mogul George Lucas is using a large chunk of his “Star Wars” merchandising lucre to purchase the rights to screen images of dead movie stars. His plan is to give his tech-magicians at LucasArt the opportunity to perfect the process of re-animating and manipulating them to appear in new roles in new films. Imagine Humphrey Bogart in “Pirates of the Caribbean 5”! Imagine Marilyn Monroe joining the girls in “Sex and the City 2”!  Imagine Cary Grant in a buddy picture with Adam Sandler! Or Jar Jar Binks.

Undoubtedly there are many movie fans who would enjoy having digitally resurrected Hollywood legends appearing side-by-side current idols, and there is probably a lot of money to be made by giving them what they want. Turning deceased stars into computer-generated images and making them do and say anything the programmers choose, with the pace, volume and inflection the directors desire, would represent a significant technological advance. Another obvious benefit is that Lucas’s method is preferable to just digging up the carcasses of the acting greats, hanging them on wires, and using machinery to parade them through movie sets like marionettes.

But not much. Continue reading

Tiger Woods’ Mother in the Ethics Rough

“You know what? I’m so proud to be his mother. Period. This thing, it teaches him, just like golf. When he changes a swing… he wants to get better… He will start getting better… it’s just like that. Golf is just like life, when you make a mistake, you learn from your mistake and move on stronger. That’s the way he is. As a human being everyone has faults, makes mistakes and sins. We all do. But, we move on when we make a mistake and learn from it. I am upset the way media treated him like he’s a criminal…he didn’t kill anybody, he didn’t do anything illegal… They’ve being carrying on from thanksgiving until now, that’s not right! People don’t understand that Tiger has a very good heart and soul. Sometimes I think there is a complete double standard… He tried to improve himself. The tabloids and newspapers just killed him, held him back.. To me it looked like a double standard…When you make a mistake you learn from it and move on, that’s the way life is, that’s a human being. We’re not God, and he never claimed he was God. If anyone tells me to condemn him, I say look at yourself first.. .. I would … look in their eyes and tell them you’re not God!  This thing is a family matter… It’s not easy to be him. … (People) go to work 8 to 5 and go home to have a life with the family. Tiger can’t do that.”

—————Katilda Woods, Tiger’s mother, in remarks to the press following Woods’ statement and apology today, his first public appearance since a series of revelations about his multiple affairs.

Where to begin? I’m glad Mrs. Woods is proud of her son. That’s what mothers are for, in times like these. If only she had stopped there, before she plunged deep into the ethics rough. For example, I think Tiger’s been swinging enough, don’t you?

But Mrs. Woods decided to promote three of my least favorite rationalizations for terrible conduct, and then added one I had neglected.  Now that she mentions it, however, I hate that one too. Continue reading