Tuesday/Wednesday Ethics Sandwich, 3/9-3/10/21: Movies, Megxit, Major And More

Dagwood sandwich

1. Worst “review” of the Year, and other Megxit Ethics Train Wreck developments :

  • I hate to end one day (and start another) with something so nauseating, but a Times “Critic’s Notebook” entry by Salamishah Tillet titled “Taking On Royal Life’s Racism” (online, “Prince Harry Finally Takes On White Privilege: His Own”) is both incompetent and dishonest. This is no review. It is a black studies professor with an agenda using a media stunt by Oprah Winfrey and the breakaway Royals to serve as her own soap box. Using a mixed-race American who achieves some success in a difficult profession (performing), then marries a British prince with the automatic money, glamor and influence that status confers as an example of racial persecution is ridiculous on its face. This is a confirmation bias classic for the ages: the black feminist activist saw what she wanted to see in one of the worst possible settings to see it. The “review” could have been written before the interview was broadcast; I bet most of it was.
  • The U.K.’s media regulator ( that is,censor and political correctness enforcer) Ofcom is investigating Piers Morgan because 41,000 people wrote to complain about the then-ITV’s “Good Morning Britain” host stating the obvious about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s joint whine with Oprah Winfrey. On “Good Morning Britain”, which Morgan quit mid-show after being attacked by his co-host, Morgan said he did not believe Markle’s statement that she had approached the Royal family for help because she had suicidal thoughts, and was turned down. “Who did you go to? What did they say to you? I’m sorry, I don’t believe a word she said…I wouldn’t believe it if she read me a weather report,” Morgan said. Neither would I, especially when such tales were attached to no details whatsoever. Morgan is a media low-life to be sure, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t right in this case. It’s a problem, though, when the most vocal and accurate critic of a manufactured narrative is so easily discredited.
  • In the U.S., the Left will sanctify the Duchess of Sussex because she’s female and blackish, thus meaning that to question her word or character is per se racism. (She’s like a Kardashian with superpowers). The Right is mostly anti-monarchy, so any harm she does to the Royals is regarded as a plus. One poll indicates, however, that the British public is less gullible: Meghan is now the least popular Royal, even behind Jeffrey Epstein pal and likely defiler of under-age girls Prince Andrew.

It’s only because the Brits are racists, of course.

2. Is there a media critic in the United States that isn’t a partisan hack? David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun certainly fails the test. Imagine writing a column titled “If Fox News wants to be a political tool, it should be treated as such and not given access meant for journalists” after the performance of all the other news organizations from 2016 on and expecting to be taken seriously. Has the mainstream media ever committed itself to a single partisan political objective more brazenly than the propaganda campaign against President Trump? Zurawik’s claim is either delusional or a lie aimed at the deluded….of which there are many.

3. White House dog ethics. Apparently the mysteriously reported “incident” that resulted in President Biden’s two German Shepherds being banished to Delaware was more than a mere nip: the victim of a bite by Major, a rescue dog, was really hurt. “There Will Finally Be Dogs in the White House Again,” was the headline in Harper’s in January, over one of many stories cheering the fact that the new “normal” President would have a dog, unlike the weird, mean, non-animal lover on the way out. In truth, the modern White House is no place for a dog—too stressful, too many visitors and strangers— and many First Pets have been acquired as PR props rather than out of genuine love for canines. Getting a rescue dog is admirable, but they often come with behavioral problems and special sensitivities that must be addressed, or they can be dangerous. My sweet rescue dog Spuds, for example, has night terrors, and woe be to any human that wakes him up while he’s recalling past abuse.

4. Governor Cuomo is now up to SIX accusers! Who could have predicted…oh, right. I did. But I’m sure it was all just a misunderstanding, like the Governor says. Sarcasm aside, I doubt Cuomo is a threat to Bill Cosby’s total, but I didn’t expect the Cos to top 50 either.

Added: Various conservative blogs and commentators are chiding Kamala Harris, who led the unethical smearing of Brett Kavanaugh as a sexual predator based on a vague high-school incident, for not weighing in on Cuomo’s alleged conduct. Harris is a two-faced hypocrite for sure—she agreed to run with a serial sexual harasser whose wrongful conduct is a matter of photographic record—but it is not a VP’s place to get involved with state government issues.

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/26/17: No, Everything Isn’t Horrible, But It’s Much Better If You Aren’t Ugly Or Paul Krugman…

Good Morning!

1 A strange disconnect. Does anyone else find it strange that Turner Movie Classics, which I would generally describe as a national cultural treasure, would choose Christmas Day of this year to highlight the career of director Alfred Hitchcock? As Hollywood and the movie industry are going to extreme lengths to purge themselves of the sexual predators in their midst, in some cases literally sending artistically outstanding works and careers into cultural purgatory, and with even calls for moderation and proportion (Matt Damon) or protestations of naive or denial-fueled ignorance (Meryl Streep) being sufficient to spark a professional crisis and widespread public criticism,  TCM, the modern day TV curator of Hollywood’s Golden Age, selected the most infamous sexual predator among all legendary American directors as its special Christmas treat.

Yeesh.

I don’t know what to make of this. Did the ethics alarms just go dead at TCM? Is this a case of “The King’s Pass,” as in, “Yes, male power figures in Hollywood engaging in sexual misconduct has been a terrible problem and it is important that this is finally being addressed, buuuut this is Alfred Hitchcock, after all. We have to over-look all of that because he’s a genius…”? The work of an artist should not be devalued because of his character or his unethical conduct, personal or professional, but at the same time, cheering the great sexual harassers of the past while trying to destroy tolerance of sexual harassment in the present seems like activities that should not be occurring simultaneously, since the two objectives undermine each other.

2. Is fake “doom and gloom” unethical?

The constant representation to the American people that the nation is in the midst of existential disaster when it obviously–well, if one isn’t completely addled by confirmation bias it should be obvious—is not can’t exactly be called “fake news,” but it is just as sinister in intent and just as dangerous in its potential results.

My errant focus was brought to this phenomenon in a film review, of all places. A.O. Scott, the New York Times reviewer who is incapable of not bringing his partisan and political biases into his reviews (thus making him a lousy reviewer, like the New Yorker’s late Pauline Kael) began his take on Matt Damon’s eco-fantasy “Downsizing” with this statement:

“A radically dystopian future seems like the best we deserve these days..”

Then I began looking for sentiments in pundit pieces and other commentary in the news media about how uniquely horrible it was to be an American in 2017. That assumption has tainted so much news reporting this year that it amounts to virtual brainwashing, and yet that characterization is false, in both comparative and absolute terms. Not only are many trends and developments uncontroversially positive, such as the long-delayed economic recovery, including booming business and consumer confidence, but in other areas as well. Yet The New York Times consistently publishes pieces like this one, by Paul Krugman on Christmas Day, titled, “America Is Not Yet Lost.” It is like a medical school case study on derangement, or a broadcast from the Bizarro Planet. We are told, directly or indirectly, that the reasons that the United States is in historically dire straits is because the Democrats lost the election, the headlong rush towards becoming just like the European socialist nanny states that they thought was finally assured has been stalled, and because, most of all, Donald Trump is President.

I can’t decide whether all these pundits really believe this, in which case they are mentally and emotionally unfit to do their jobs, or if this is a concerted, desperate effort to create panic and hysteria in defiance of reality, in order to justify undoing the election.  The characterization of the GOP tax bill was the most recent example of how the negativism makes legitimate analysis impossible. “This is wrong !” is always a perfectly responsible argument in a democratic society. “This is evil and will destroy us all!” is not. Continue reading

Sorry To Be A Pest, But Yes, It Matters: There Was And Is Nothing Wrong With Casting Charlton Heston As A Mexican D.A.

Quiz: which is obviously unethical? Casting a Scotch-English actor as a Mexican, or casting a Cuban-American as a Sicilian-American?

Pop Quiz: which is obviously unethical? Casting a Scotch-English actor as a Mexican, or casting a Cuban-American as a Sicilian-American?

I was watching Turner Movie Classics over the weekend, and guest Louis Gossett Jr, best known for playing the drill sergeant who makes An Officer And A Gentleman out of jerk Richard Gere, had chosen the Orson Welles cult film “Touch of Evil” for the evening’s viewing. Host Ben Mankiewicz noted that the film, which he agreed was a classic, now causes politically correct eyes—like his and Gossett’s— to roll because Charlton Heston had the role of a Mexican district attorney. Without saying why, both Ben and Lou tut-tutted and agreed that this would never be tolerated today, and the role would obviously be cast with someone like Antonio Bandaras. It was too obvious to decent viewers to explain, I guess.

We have gone over this issue before here, and more than once, but what was special and disturbing about this conversation was that it assumed a new cultural ethics standard as if everyone agrees with it; the previous standard, we now know in our wisdom, was wrong; and now it’s clear what is the right path going forward. This is how mass media, which is pervasive, powerful, and overwhelmingly controlled by none-too-bright and none-too-ethical knee-jerk leftists, accelerates the natural evolution of societal and cultural ethics. When the media sends a united message that an issue is decided, those of slug-like alertness and apathetic mind—and there are a lot of them— will simply absorb the edict without applying critical thought.

Oh…the right thing is to just let anyone who wants to come to this country jump the border. Got it. Oh…guns should be confiscated and banned by the government if it can save one life. Of course. Oh…the minimum wage should be a living wage. How true…

The fact that there is not and should not be cultural consensus on such conclusions because they make no sense logically or ethically will be buried  by sheer repetition and certitude, unless sufficient numbers of people who are paying attention and do not surrender to false authority protest loudly and repeatedly. In a previous post on this topic, I wrote…

“Through the fog of such distortions, the idea of rigid ethnic casting doesn’t seem so crazy, though it is crazy indeed. I regard it my duty as someone who has both professional expertise in ethics and casting to slap down this rotten and indefensible idea every time it raises its repulsive head.”

Thus I am keeping my promise. The principle that Ben and Lou are assuming our society accepts is nonsense. It is also bad ethics. Continue reading