Tag Archives: TV

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

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On Political Correctness, Eye Candy, And “Deal Or No Deal”

Where are the hunchbacks? Where are the amputees? Where are the burn victims?

A friend of mine—a real one– on Facebook, in a pathetically desperate exercise in virtue-signaling to his leftist hive-mind lawyer friends, issued a naive or disingenuous post making the claim that all “political correctness” was about was “not being an asshole.” This factually and historically false assertion naturally was met with unanimous likes until I again played the skunk at the picnic by pointing out that his comment was utter fantasy. The directive from the British college that laid out guidelines for comedians was classic political correctness, and it was the guidelines-peddlers, not the comedians or those who mocked the restrictions, who were being assholes. Those who persist in calling illegal immigrants illegal immigrants (and not “undocumented immigrants” or just “immigrants”), for that, Virginia, is what they are, are not the assholes, but they are “politically incorrect.” The assholes who go searching through the Twitter feeds of young celebrities searching for politically incorrect words about gays, women or minorities are wielding politically correctness as a weapon of personal destruction. And so on. I could write volumes on similar or more nauseating examples. Maybe I have.

So I pointed out, correctly and undeniably, that political correctness has been used for decades by one side of the political spectrum—guess which!—as a tool to manipulate public discourse and hobble the expression of ideas and attitudes that end doesn’t like, while relieving them of the obligation of making a substantive argument. The immediate attack on this retort came from someone I don’t even know, who wrote, “You are so tiresome.” Yes, I’m quite aware that doctrinaire progressives find ethics, facts and logic tiresome, but there it is. That is what passed for an argument in Facebook’s hive: “Shut up.” I haven’t bothered to respond to the other attacks on me on that thread; it’s not worth my time. If you defend a manifestly false characterization of political correctness, then you are either not being honest, you have an agenda, or are no longer thinking objectively and clearly. Either way, I’d rather debate my dog.

This was a roundabout way of introducing a classic example of political correctness silliness, attacks on the appropriateness of “Deal or No Deal” returning with the same bevy of beauties whose job it is to hold and open suitcases, a job that could be performed with equal competence by the homeless, paraplegics, 9-year-olds, or robots. Writes the Times, metaphorical brow furrowed,

CNBC’s “Deal or No Deal,” which returned for a new season on Wednesday after a nearly 10-year hiatus, and features 26 female models in matching high heels and short, skintight dresses. It’s a formula that helped make “Deal” a prime-time hit when it debuted on NBC in 2005.

That was 13 years ago. But in 2018, as the culture continues to grapple with the way women have been disregarded and sometimes abused by Hollywood and its machers, “Deal” and shows like it raise an awkward question: Is this a convention whose time is up?

Series like “Deal” encapsulate the paradox of the modern game-show modeling gig: On one hand, it offers a stiletto-heeled foot in the door for many young women who aspire to careers in entertainment — Meghan Markle and Chrissy Teigen, among others, got their starts on “Deal or No Deal.” On the other hand, it is unclear whether those advantages are worth the broader message it may communicate in the #MeToo era…

“I do feel it’s a bit tone deaf,” said Nicole Martins, a professor at Indiana University Bloomington, who focuses on media and body image. “These women are used as eye candy, and it reinforces the idea that these women should be appreciated for how they look.”

Yes, Professor, that’s because THESE women are being appreciated for how they look, and for no other reason, because they aren’t doing a job that couldn’t be handled by a well-trained ape. So what? “Deal of No Deal” is moronic, but there is nothing whatsoever unethical, sexist or “tone deaf,” now or ever, about employing attractive people in an entertainment context as “eye candy,” meaning “employing attractive people to be attractive.”

Attractive women are attractive. People like to look at them. People would rather look at them than look at average, typical people they can see every day on the street, or by looking in the mirror. Is there anything wrong with enhancing a stupefyingly repetitive and boring game show with beautiful women? There is not. Nor is there anything wrong with women who are gorgeous while having no other areas in which they excel making a living based entirely on that one asset. Continue reading

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“Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” Ethics

Yes, it’s come to this.

The last time I had to write about attacks on the children’s Christmas song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” it involved a school capitulating to a single Jewish parent who complained that teaching students the song indoctrinated kids into Christianity. (Naturally, the school capitulated, and banned Rudolph.) This time the complaints involve the ancient Rankin-Bass Puppetoon version of the story, which invades our TV sets every Christmas season. Here’s the account of quirky blog Victory Girls, after citing various tweets and blog criticism of the show from newly woke Americans:

Santa is a big, fat jerk and a bigoted, d*ck, apparently. Rudolph’s father was “abusive”. Comet was a terrible coach. Yukon Cornelius is a gun-toting redneck who engages in animal cruelty. GASP! And who isn’t triggered by Burl Ives’ character, Sam the Snowman?! He’s ALL WHITE for crying out loud! If you sing along to any Burl Ives’ Christmas Carols, you might be a white supremacist. Delete all Burl Ives Christmas tunes from your Apple playlist STAT! Never mind, I forgot. These folks would never know how to have a Holly, Jolly Christmas if someone threw it at them and gave it to them gratis and called it a college education.

As a kid in the 70s and 80s, I would look for its listing in the TV Guide. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was one of my most beloved, go-to Christmas classics and still is. But now, in the days of woke, the story behind Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is “seriously problematic” and those who don’t see it this way have “serious problems”. Those people are, according to the hyper-vigilant SJWs, Conservatives. Whilst making tongue-in-cheek social justice commentary about Rudolph, they have neglected the key takeaways of this story from years ago. Although he was bullied, left out of all of the reindeer games, unaccepted, different-quirky even-young Rudolph was able to overcome and do something absolutely great. He saved the day! He made kids smile. And his story is magical. He didn’t stomp his hooves and whine and go to a “safe space” and resign himself to life being too hard as a red-nosed reindeer and call it quits. He didn’t blame others and become a victim. He didn’t expect special treatment or demand it from his peers because he was different. He may have shed some tears and that’s okay. When given a challenge, he rose to the occasion and excelled and proved his biggest critics and his bullies wrong.

Continue reading

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My Birthday Comment Of The Day! On “Nipplegate Ethics: No, We Don’t Owe Janet Jackson Any Apology At All”

Shortly before the bells tolled twelve and my birthday/Finding Dad Dead In A Chair Day came to an end, I received not one but THREE comments on a two-year-old post. I love it when this happens—it has been happening a lot lately—because it gives me a chance to read with new eyes and accumulated wisdom past ethical verdicts to see if they measure up to my current standards. Sometimes I think I was bit too certain of myself, and sometimes I even detect some serious omissions in my analysis, but not with this post, a vivisection of a ridiculous, race-bating defense of Janet Jackson infamous breast-baring at the 2004 Super Bowl. A pop culture blather-artist named Emmanuel Hapsis,  had revisited the incident , and in the increasingly unhinged manner of the woke which we have witnesses since. declared that the episode exemplified America’s “patriarchy,” “racism” and “sexism.”  “Janet’s first crime was being a woman and the second that she was a black woman,” Emmanuel wrote.

Well, few show business scams have been as easily figured out as this one, and the question is whether those who refuse to believe what is absurdly obvious—Sure, it was just a series of amazing coincidences that Justin Timberlake, during a choreographed duet with Jackson and while singing “Better have you naked by the end of this song,” somehow and completely accidentally ripped a neatly cut portion of Jackson’s bustier to reveal her naked breast, except that her nipple was covered by an elaborate pasty—almost as if she knew it was going to be exposed.  Timberlake lied, then later admitted that the stunt was planned, though he didn’t have to, because everyone knew it was planned who had an IQ above freezing and wasn’t in line to buy shares of “Prisoners of Love”. Jackson kept to her story that it was all a big surprise. I wrote, and would write again,

“Jackson also got a career boost from the fiasco, which is exactly why she agreed to the stunt, and if she paid something for the contract breech, she could afford it. As for the public criticism of her unannounced peep show, race and sexism had nothing, zero, nada to do with it. When you have to reach this far back and distort reality this absurdly to make the case about how racist and sexist America can be, you really need to find another cause, because you’re lousy at this one.

There are real examples of racism and sexism out there. Using fake ones like this to caterwaul about it just makes it easier to deny them.

Not only does America not owe Janet Jackson a “huge” apology, America owes her none at all. Emmanuel Hapsis, however does owe America a huge apology, for trying to further divide it, and for trying to make the public more ignorant than it already is.”

When the post first ran, somebody sicced a college class on me or something, and I received numerous, almost identical rebuttals, most of which were too incoherent or idiotic to pass moderation. I also banned one persistent troll who kept writing the same comment that essentially asked how anyone could be so mad as to not believe Jackson’s contrived story? (I am a veteran stage director and choreographer, and I can tell a staged bit when I see one, not than any yahoo couldn’t recognize this one.)

So along comes someone named Troy who gifted me with one of those comments that is so fascinatingly devoid of logic, coherence or ethics grounding, and so wonderfully besotted with woke buzzwords and mirages, that I just had to post it as a Comment of the Day. First, it shows you the kind of junk that doesn’t usually get posted here. Second, it is instersectionality wackiness on brilliant display—yes, holding Janet Jackson to account for flashing a family audience to get cheap publicity for her upcoming album is linked to slavery, lynching, police brutality, and white privilege. The screed also begins with and is built around a false analogy, as are so many screeds these days. You see, Madonna is white, Madonna is a singer, and Madonna has exposed various parts of her body in a carnal fashion, so for a black performer to be criticized for similar self-exposure is a double standard, or so Troy believes.

Super Bowl half-time spectacular live in prime time with the largest TV audience of the year including children, you moron.

I wonder: how many people are out there who “think” like this? How did they get that way? Who can stand being around them? Are they multiplying? How can that be stopped? How do you reason with someone this addled? What is the critical mass of people like this that renders the nation too stupid to function at all?

Excellent, if troubling, questions all. Thanks, Troy!

Here is Troy’s Comment of the Day on Nipplegate Ethics: No, We Don’t Owe Janet Jackson Any Apology At All: Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/23/18: (It’s My 38th Wedding Anniversary)

Good Morning!

1. A Thanksgiving Story. Yesterday, as we have in recent years since our available family has been inexorably shrinking or moving away, Grace and I, plus my son and his girl friend, went out to a favorite D.C. restaurant for our celebration. A very large party was next to our table, and when I overheard a comment or two, I figured out who it was. The extended Dole family, headed by former Senator Liddy Dole and former Senate Majority Leader, Presidential candidate and Vice-Presidential candidate Bob Dole, now 95, was having a holiday gathering with at least three generations on hand. My Dad deeply admired Dole’s military sacrifices in World War II as well as his wit, and both Doles had spent a lifetime in public service, so I decided to send the table a bottle of champaign with the Marshall family’s regards.

I expected at most a smile and a wave. Liddy Dole, however, came immediately over to our table, and chatted for quite a while, energetically expressing her  and Bob’s gratitude for the gift. Later a Dole niece came over to do the same, and I got a handshake and some nice words from Bob as we left. I would have assumed that lots of tables at the packed eatery would have sent some token of appreciation the Dole’s way, but we seemed to be the only ones. Indeed, we seemed to be the only ones who knew who they were. “Sic transit gloria mundi.”

It was funny: Liddy Dole did a wonderful job covering with opening comments that could have suggested that she had met us before, a skill anyone in public office must master. I managed to make it clear in my remarks that we hadn’t met, but her gratitude appeared genuine rather than formal.

So the Marshall family had a memorable collision with political history and Washington royalty! Best bottle of champagne I ever bought…

2.  If Obama wants to protect his own legacy and project a positive image of the Presidency, he really should shut up. During a summit this week for the Obama Foundation in Chicago, former President Barack Obama said,

“Climate change, we’re going to have to come up with some new technologies to solve the problem as much as we need to. Although even on something like that, right now I could take off the shelf existing technologies, we could reduce carbon emissions by, let’s say 30 percent, without any, you know, it’s not like we would have to go back to caves and, you know, live off, you know, fire. We could have electricity and smartphones and all that stuff, which would buy us probably another 20, 30 years for that technological breakthrough that’s necessary. The reason we don’t do it is because we are still confused, blind, shrouded with hate, anger, racism, mommy issues. “I mean … we are fraught with stuff.”

Stuff like, oh, reality. The U.S. is deeply in debt, in no small part due to Obama’s own mismanagement of the budget, and a trillion dollar infrastructure bill is overdue. Estimates—and on climate change, all we have is estimates, of what it would cost to reduce carbon emissions by 30% range from another 1.7 to 3 trillion dollars, and many estimates tell us that even that wouldn’t do enough, whatever “enough” is. “It’s not like we would have to go back to caves and, you know, live off, you know, fire’ is a masterpiece of “It’s not the worst thing” duplicity. OK, Big Shot, what would it mean? Of course, Obama has no idea. He’s just blathering, and at a level not much superior to the blathering President Trump gets regularly skewered for. Yes, we are indeed confused, because climate change research and hype are now indistinguishable thanks to messengers like Obama, but how the hell do “hate, anger, racism, (and) mommy issues” have anything to do with the issue other than to serve as standard left-wing insults at anyone who doesn’t agree with them?

The use of racism as a default explanation for any and all opposition has reached the point of self-parody. I wonder when the half the country not being victimized by it wakes up and sees how unfair and destructive this is… Continue reading

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The “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” Scandal

Some people are now conditioned to see racism in everything, and they are a menace to society, sanity, and the pursuit of happiness.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…

What does it mean that the above scene from ” A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” first aired on November 20, 1973 and every year since, suddenly struck some Americans as “racist” in 2018?

Hint: it doesn’t mean that the public is becoming more “woke” to actual racism in America. It means that the relentless effort by one segment of society and many in the news media to use the accusation of “racism” as a political wedge and a weapon to achieve power has officially reached the most dangerous level yet, and is gradually poisoning society. The idea is to make virtually anything potentially “racially insensitive”—choice of words, clothing, casting in TV shows, law enforcement, voting, socialization choices, literally anything and everything, including innocent composition choices in animated cartoons. The objective is to produce fear….fear of making a mistake, fear of offending anyone with hypersensitivity to racial slights, real or imaginary, fear of being labeled guilty of “racism,” which is now the worst crime on earth. This is a sick development that will create a sick society and a dysfunctional culture.

Here is how one critic describes the evidence of racism in the above picture:

“Franklin, the one and only black friend in the group, is seated by himself on one side of the table while the other is crowded with the rest of the friends. On top of that, he’s sitting in a lawn chair as opposed to everyone else’s proper furniture.”

This is deceit and trouble-making:

  • There are six human beings at the table, one of whom is black. In fact, the diversity exceeds the percentage of blacks in the U.S. population. There is nothing racist about him being “the one and only.”
  • Franklin is not sitting “by himself.” He is sitting at the same table with his friends as a welcome guest at a community gathering. Is Linus, who also has one side of the table to himself, sitting “by himself” too? No, he’s a member of the group, at the same table as his friends. Is Marcy, at the opposite end, sitting “by herself?” No, she is also sitting with the group, just like Franklin.
  • Is having one side of a communal table considered some kind of insult? Not at any table I’ve been seated at. I love having a side to myself. It is also an advantage to be able to look at your family and friends across a table, rather than to have to talk to them by turning your head and craning around. There is a strong argument that Franklin is being treated with special consideration.
  • Why did the artist set up the table like that? I guarantee it was not to make a racist statement. How can I guarantee that? I guarantee that because 1) the “statement’ would be idiotic 2) because nobody out of millions of viewers saw any such statement for four decades 3) because if you wanted to be hostile to blacks, you could just skip Franklin. Franklin, a minor, (indeed transparently token) “Peanuts” character added to the comic just five years earlier, is at the gang’s celebration in place of Schroader, Violet, Pigpen, and even Lucy, all more prominent characters. So what’s the theory, that the cartoonists gave the black kid a place at the table over major, long-standing characters in order to insult him? How racially paranoid do you have to be to think like that? The answer is “pretty damned paranoid,” and that’s the state of mind malign political forces here want to promote.
  • Here’s why the table was set like it was:

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Morning Ethics Round-Up, 8/16/18: Those Wacky Conways, And The Anti-Trump News Media Goes To The Dogs

Good morning.

1. A conspiracy theory about a conspiracy theory about conspiracy theorists...Last night, a CBS procedural that I am finally sick of, “Criminal Minds,” appeared to be taking sides in the Trump vs. the FBI wars, with a side-swipe at Alex Jones, not that there’s anything wrong with that. The episode set up a conflict between the Good FBI agents who are the stars of the show, and the crazy, paranoid, anti-government  “Truthers” who see government law enforcement as sinister and manipulative. (There was special focus on the ridiculous Sandy Hook conspiracy theory, with one of the tough serial killer hunter breaking down in tears remembering the massacre.) The most vocal anti-FBI character in the episode, who sneered out her every line about the series heroes (bad direction, in my view), was revealed at the end as the “unsub,” the psychopathic killer.

For some reason this was the first time it occurred to me how much prime  time network TV serves as a PR service for the FBI, with the virtue, bravery and unquestioned rectitude of the agency and its employees being central to multiple dramas. The propaganda is escalating too: Dick Wolf of “Law and Order” fame is launching a new CBS series called, creatively, “FBI.” You would think, would you not, that this would be an odd time to produce such a series, with the reputation and credibility of J.Edgar’s baby at an all-time, and most deserved, low. However, Hollywood and the entertainment industry now sees its role differently than seeking mere ratings.

There is nothing wrong with TV writers and producers bring their political agendas into our living rooms, and there’s not a thing we can do about it anyway, other than change channels. Rod Serling used to get awfully preachy sometimes on “The Twilight Zone.” This was mighty ham-handed pro-Peter Strzok advocacy, though by CBS, or at least it seemed that way to me.

2. Marital Ethics. This is weird. Ethics Alarms has discussed the unethical conduct of Kellyanne Conway’s husband George, who has become a popular “resistance” and #NeverTrump figure by tweeting virulent criticism of the President, who employs his wife. Now Kellyanne has escalated the problem with an interview criticizing her husband, telling a reporter that his sniping ” is disrespectful, it’s a violation of basic decency, certainly, if not marital vows.”  Then, according to an AOL report, she asked that her comments be attributed to “a person familiar with their relationship.” The reporter, correctly, refused.

It is a breach of loyalty and respect for one spouse to criticize the other in the news media. It is cowardly and a breach of honesty to criticize one’s spouse and to try to remain unaccountable for it by pretending the critique came from someone else.

What a fun couple! What a strange couple. What an unethical couple… Continue reading

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