Saturday Ethics Smorgasbord, 6/8/2019: Yes, Double Standards Are Really Bugging Me Today

Goddagens!

1. I’ve been trying to find away to fit Reps. Ocasio-Cortez. Tlaib and Omar into a parody of Abraham, Martin and John. “AOC, Omar and Tlaib” almost works... An investigation by Minnesota’s Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board into Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has determined  she violated campaign finance laws dating back to when she served a single term in the State House of Representatives from 2016-2018. The report also reveals that Omar filed joint tax returns in 2014 and 2015 with Ahmed Hirsi, even though she was married to Ahmed Nur Said Elmi from 2009-2017.

Nice.

Let me know if you hear about this from any mainstream media outlet.

2. Individually, there are a lot of wonderful, funny, brilliant and admirable theater people. As a group, however, it is a cowardly, biased, intellectually lazy herd with the political sophistication of third graders.

I wrote on Facebook about the Ethics Alarms post on D.C.’s Studio Theater cancelling a production that reveals the text messages between the “FBI Lovebirds” who dished about how the Deep State would sabotage Donald Trump. The majority of my more than 400 Facebook friends are involved in theater. None of them commented on the issue. The apparent reasons are apathy, hypocrisy, or fear of being labelled a “Trump supporter” because they don’t applaud active censorship of the truth when it is inconvenient to the plots of “the resistance.” I don’t care which it is: the response is disgraceful…and typical.

Hollywood writer Christian Toto contacted 14 theaters across the country to ask their response to Studio’s actions. None of them responded. Among the fourteen were New Neighborhood and Slightly Altered States,  theatrical groups which took part in the  dramatic readings of the Mueller Report (the attending of which is a reliable indication of late stage Trump Derangement–I presume the theaters will follow up with readings of the phone book). Christian Toto writes,

“Imagine if unseen forces threatened violence against that Mueller Report reading, an event framed as critical of President Trump. Does anyone think those same 14 theatre groups would have remained silent?”

Should I ask my Facebook friends? Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: The Studio Theater, Washington, D.C.

The Studio’s Mead Theatre in D.C. was about to open “FBI Lovebirds: UnderCovers,” with Dean Cain and Kristy Swanson (once Superman and the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer respectively) as disgraced FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. The dialogue came straight from the pair’s texts, which, as we all know, revealed both their romantic (and unethical) affair while strongly suggesting “deep state” plans to prevent Donald Trump’s rise to the Presidency

The team behind the project, Unreported Story Society, had rented out the Mead, one of the spaces in D.C.’s very rich and very successful—and very liberal, like most theaters—Studio Theatre.  Yesterday, however, the production announced in an email alert that Studio  has canceled its contract to host the performance. Here is Studio’s statement:

“Studio Theatre has cancelled its contract with third-party rental client Unreported Story Society. Media reports have made us aware of undisclosed details about the event and have generated open and violent threats against the theater and event participants. Studio has an institutional responsibility to consider the safety of our staff, patrons, community, event organizers and attendees. These concerns must be paramount.”

Right. I don’t buy  the explanation, I don’t believe it, and I don’t respect it.

Those “undisclosed details” were that the same conservative activists behind the anti-abortion documentary “Gosnell,” which was screened at the White House, were behind the production. “FBI Lovebirds: Undercovers,” was to be directed by Phelim McAleer, a conservative artist who has co-written and produced  political films about abortion, fracking and environmentalism with his wife, Ann McElhinney.

“We are going to show the mainstream media and Hollywood that they can no longer push the Russia collusion hoax and force them to acknowledge how the Deep State, DC Swamp tried to destroy the Trump candidacy and presidency,” reads the crowdfunding page named after “Unreported Story Society,” the production company that McAleer set up to mount the show.

Once the Studio became aware that the play would be anti-“resistance” and pro-Trump, although it apparently is fact, not fiction since the dialogue is entirely from the actual texts, it became unpalatable. I assume that Studio got complaints from its board, donors and overwhelmingly Democratic subscribers because the play had a conservative tilt.

Can’t have that!

If there were, in fact, real threats made (personally, this sounds to my ear like a cover story to avoid saying that the play was cancelled once the Studio found out that Unreported Story Society were actually a cadre of evil Trump supporters), then that means the threats came from the Left, just like threats keep conservative views from being aired on so many college campuses. If theaters are going to bow to the heckler’s veto and efforts at content censorship via threats, then free expression as well as art is endangered.

I do not believe that if this was a progressive-agenda friendly production, like, say, the NYC “Julius Caesar” production that depicted the staged and bloody assassination of a Trump clone, the Studio would have been so eager to cave., but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the Studio is just run by weenies—there are a lot of them in the theater world, and courage is not in abundant supply. In ethical theater, you do what you have to to protect the production, but you make sure the show, any show, goes on.

If this were the late American Century Theater, I would have insisted as artistic director on the show going up, threats or not.  Anyone who knows me knows that’s true. Our theater also produced—and I directed— works from all ends of the political spectrum, including socialist agitprop. If theater won’t stand up for its controversial and politically unpopular works, then it will devolve into “The Lion King,” Shakespeare revivals and fluff.

Come to think of t, that’s pretty much where live theater is now.

More Ethics Confusion at The Washington Post

Washington D.C. theater scene blogger and critic John Glass has caught the Washington Post with its ethical pants down. He alertly notes that a line in a recent Post story about the appointment of a new Artistic Director for the prestigious Studio Theater reveals that interviews for the position took place in Washington Post offices. Studio is an active Post advertiser that, like all D.C. area theaters, is significantly dependent on the paper’s theater reviews for its audiences. In this regard it is also in competition with other theaters for the Post critics’ approval. Doesn’t this situation require objectivity and an arm’s length relationship between the newspaper and the theater? Why is the Washington Post actively involved in a professional theater’s choice of artistic leadership? Continue reading