“Sailors plan for safety. For escape. For survival. Sailors rely on plans, on strategies that have worked before. Trust me. Most mariners are conservative. We stick to the tried and true. The familiar." -- Randall Peffer, "Listen to the Dead"

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Am I Just an Old Fogey?

      Usually, the topic of this blog is retirement and living well as we age. But sometimes things just bug me and I have to say something -- usually about the declining morality and general lack of standards in our society today. I wonder if you agree.

     Item number 1 is the Chris Rock/Will Smith slap heard round the world at the Oscars. Rock made a tasteless joke about Smith's wife. Smith marched up to the stage and slapped the comedian, then sat down and swore at him.

     Smith clearly did something wrong. As he admitted, he is in the public eye and has to be able to take jokes in stride about him and his family.  In any case resorting to violence -- even the relatively mild violence of an open-hand slap -- is beyond the pale. He should least apologize, and maybe suffer other punishment. In fact he did apologize, first when he gave his best actor acceptance speech, and then again on social media to the public.

     But here's the other side of the coin. Rock started it. He's the one who provoked Smith with a tasteless, below-the-belt joke. I mean, how many people would have laughed at Rock's joke if it had referenced someone in a wheelchair, or someone with AIDS or cancer?

     So instead of being greeted at his next comedy show with a standing ovation -- as he was -- Rock too should have apologized for his snarky, tasteless joke. I'm actually a fan of Chris Rock. I think he's funny. But I also think he should suffer some punishment that signals to him and others: don't get too nasty, too cruel, too personal.

     These days, we see many instances of someone who does something wrong, leading to someone else overreacting. Then the person who overreacts becomes the villain. And the person who started it becomes the "victim." Maybe I'm old-fashioned. But this just doesn't seem right to me. An overreaction is bad; but so is a provocation.

     The other thing that happened last week:  President Biden's Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced she is quitting the White House to take a job on TV as an on-air opinion-maker at the liberal cable station MSNBC.

What do you want to hear?
     What she's doing is not unusual. Lots of politicians have turned into media stars. Dana Perino, George Bush's press secretary, holds forth on FOX News. So does Trump's press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has a talk show. So does former Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow. Are we supposed to take these people seriously when they are overtly and admittedly biased toward their own party?

     But the Democrats have the same problem. ABC's George Stephanopoulos worked for Bill Clinton; Chris Matthews, long-time MSNBC commentator, worked for Democratic Majority Leader Tip O'Neill; more recently Chris Cuomo, son of one Democratic governor and brother of another, was a top CNN host.

     Why should we think that the Democrats are any more objective than the Republicans? In fact, it turned out that Cuomo was moonlighting for his governor brother the whole time he was on TV.

     I'm not saying Jen Psaki is a bad person. I've seen her on TV. She seems intelligent, well-educated, able to hold her own. But as a TV journalist she has a clear conflict of interest. All these politicians do. Call me old-fashioned, but I think it's simply unethical for someone to make their living pushing a political agenda, and then turn around and pretend to present news and commentary in any fair, unbiased manner.

     If the media want to be taken seriously, they should fire all the ex-politicians and political operatives -- both Republicans and Democrats -- and use real journalists who can be accurate and reasonably objective, who will not be passing on propaganda from their old friends.

     In other words, call me an old fogey, but give me John Chancellor or Tom Brokaw, give me Huntley and Brinkley, give me Walter Cronkite or Edward R. Murrow. 

25 comments:

Ed said...

The one thing that impressed me about Chris Rock was how he handled himself post slap. Not only did he not skip a beat, but he didn't take the bate being offered from the foul mouth of Will Smith. As it now seems, Rock could have had Smith hauled out in handcuffs but declined.

As for the joke, I agree that it was a bit low especially if he knew about Mrs. Smith's condition, (I didn't know) but I wouldn't say he had to be reprimanded for it. There has been a long tradition of low blows throughout the years I have watched that show. I'm guessing it is what the audience demands of the show. If the Academy wants to pursue a different route, they should write it up in the contract with penalties explained ahead of time. Going after a public apology from Rock now seems kind of meaningless to me.

I avoid all cable news shows for the reasons you mentioned. Everyone has an agenda. At best, I listen to the Evening news which can only provide a brief clip and thus mostly sticks to facts. If I want to research further, I turn to more trusted resources. One of them is the BBC though it tends to lean a little liberal sometimes too. But it is a lot more "fair and balanced" in my opinion than FOX or CNN or the likes.

ApacheDug said...

I'm going to be very honest here and admit I have no sympathy for Jada Pinkett Smith. First of all, she acts like she's the Pharaoh of Hollywood, and her & Will are above the social mores that the rest of us little people must follow. Secondly, it's not like her alopecia is cancer--some doctors believe she caused her own condition by the years of hair straightening chemicals and extensions she's abused her scalp with. She needs to give that noggin a rest!

Third, it's not like Chris Rock even insulted her by comparing her to GI Jane--why in the world should that automatically be considered an insult? My God, no one escaped Don Rickle's wrath in the 1950s-1970s and he said a lot worse things! Jada's eunuch thought it was funny--until he saw the daggers in her eyes, that is. Fourth--what man in his right mind walks on stage and pulls the stunt he did ON A LIVE AWARDS SHOW SEEN AROUND THE WORLD? ON THE NIGHT HE MAY WIN AN OSCAR FOR BEST ACTOR? Those two have serious narcissistic issues. And I very much liked Jim Carrey's assessment of what took place, including the sickening watch of Will getting a standing ovation from the rest of that crowd when his name was announced. "We are no longer the Cool Club." You got that right, Jim.

Anyway Tom, your feelings don't make you an old fogey. There's currently an 80/20 split (in favor of Chris Rock) from people of all age types. I for one will NEVER watch something with Will Smith in it again.

Celia said...

I wish the "slap" could have been non-news. Fat chance, rich, entitled people acting out, why is that news? I didn't watch it, the Oscars are not my thing but it got coverage everywhere. I admit Rock is not to my taste, but I don't watch him so I'm good there. I think Smith has slipped a gear. It must be a pain being the nicest guy ever for so long. And I saw the rerun of the joke and Smith had laughed too. What a poophead. My Mom, when she was stuck at home in the evening with Dad and us offspring would sigh and say "I wonder what the rich people are doing tonight." It would be nice if the public stopped caring about that. Off my soapbox.

Arkansas Patti said...

I have to agree with Doug. I have seen a bunch of Oscar shows and it seems that the celebrities are fair game for the comedians and they always laughed and seemed grateful for the spot light. It is kind of a celebrity roast. Will was laughing with everyone else at first and I really don't know if Chris knew about Jada's condition. At least he didn't tease her about her admitted infidelity and open marriage. That is where I am a bit old fashioned. Can a woman be a fogey?:))

Linda Myers said...

I am still looking for a news source that is primarily facts. The closest I've come is 1440 - a daily email, free, that presents the stories and lets you click to learn more about it.

I gave up CNN in January as it seems high drama, all the time, and I need less of that.

Tom said...

Patti -- Why not? Join the fogey club! I, er, have to admit I did not see the Oscars either, so I'm only going by reports. I see the point you and Doug are making, and I'm not defending Will Smith, but still, Chris Rock has come down a peg in my estimation. Linda -- Thanks for the tip about 1440!

DJan said...

I think the best line I've heard over the incident was from Denzel Washington, who said to Smith that when you're riding high, that's when the devil comes for you. It was quite a hard slap, and I think Chris Rock handled the situation well. And I actually feel sorry for Will Smith. He'll bear this burden the rest of his life.

Red said...

I really like the second last paragraph which sums things up very nicely. This old fogey would add in the factor of money with these issues. They want to make money using controversial people.

Anonymous said...

Thought provoking, I'm sure. My biggest concern is who judges the provocation? Are we justifying violence based on how "deserved" it is? I'm worried we send a message to young men and women that it's ok to respond with physical violence, if it is justifiably provoked, i.e. "deserved".

Carole

Olga said...

I have never watched award shows. The relevance of a celebrity's life to my own in nil to none. I have been a curmudgeon pretty much all my life.

Rian said...

I agree with Olga here... don't watch those shows. As for the incident, both are guilty. As for consequences, possibly both should apologize - not sure more is needed.

Barbara said...

You hit the ever-loving nail on the head in both cases. I totally agree with you. Doesn't the person that started the fight and the person that threw the punch usually both go to jail. I think they were equally guilty. I miss the days when the news channels shared information instead of opinions, or if it was an opinion, it was so stated and accepted as such. I feel really lost that there is nowhere to turn where you can be assured of the real news.

Rebecca Olkowski said...

When I first saw the slap I was horrified and wasn't happy that Rock's joke was making fun of someone. However, I was reminded that comics are hired for their talent whether you agree with what they say or not. He barely said anything other than something about GI Jane before Smith came up and punched him.

The Academy hired him to roast celebrities and he did his job. Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, and Richard Pryer were controversial and were lauded for what they did. I miss Bob Hope and Johnny Carson because they didn't resort to that but that's the current trend. Smith could have settled this at the party or after the event but instead, he decided to suck all the oxygen out of the room and away from the winners who came after him because he is a narcissist.

Jen Psaki is, as you said, intelligent and good at her job. I hate that she is leaving after watching liars like Sean Spicer, et all. I know she is a mother and maybe a TV job will be easier on her family. That's all I can think of. There will never be another Walter Cronkite, unfortunately. He is deeply missed.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Doug's comments. I also have to chime in to remind us of what Ricky Gervais has said about jokes at the Oscars (he has infuriated many stars there). His take on it is that he is hired by the Academy to entertain the audience at home, in order to attract an audience for the award show, and that if he can't make jokes about the celebrities in the audience, who are among the most privileged people in the entire world, then who can he make jokes about??? Take it a step further and realize that award shows lure the home audience into movie theaters - which in turn enriches the celebrities. So, I've NO sympathy for the folks who blame Chris Rock, who was doing his job. Also, GI Jane starred Demi Moore with a shaved head to play the role, so why do people assume that it was a slur on Jada? Demi Moore proved to be beautiful with or without hair, just as Jada has. Lastly, Will Smith is a hero to our youth, and as such it would be great if he would model good behavior, such as working things out with words instead of physical violence. So, again, NO sympathy from me for the Will Smith side. He is dead to me.
Nina

Barb said...

Chris Rick didn't star a thing. He made a joke. Even making a joke in bad taste is not "starting a fight". The man was paid specifically to joke about as many people as possible. Gi Jane is a badass by the way. All his wife did was roll her eyes and smile. No outrage in anyway. I do feel sorry for Will and I expect the violence is rooted in some kind of trauma because in the norm he's a very non client laid back type and this will follow him. As far as Jenn all the big stations are oriented politically and watchers we take her view in perspective. Press types are press types and I'm sure she'll do well.

Rita said...

TV journalism changed when cable TV came on the scene. The companies needed to fill up hours and hours of coverage, hence what developed was the format of having a host for a couple of hours who would interview knowledgeable people on the topic. For TV coverage, then you look at how that format is carried out. Fox News colors the news because it doesn't have anyone with a different opinion from its conservative coverage. CNN has analysts from Republican, Democratic, and the middle viewpoints. I don't watch MSNBC, so when you submitted your item for our weekly roundup, I watched it. MSNBC also has analysts on with conservative viewpoints. What you missed in your article is what is predicted that Jan Psaki will do if hired by MSNBC. Reports said she's going to be an analyst. So, that means she'll be on those panels with others who may have different viewpoints. Reports also said she would host a program on Peacock. So, it doesn't look like she'll be a reporter. You implied in your article that she'd be reporting the news on MSNBC. It doesn't look like that's the case. TV news coverage is more difficult to figure out than newspapers. For newspapers, opinions are given in editorials and op-ed articles. The rest of the newspaper is reporting on news (in reputable newspapers).

Meryl Baer said...

I saw the slap that went round the world on 'news' shows after the fact. I have no sympathy for either Will or Chris, and don't care. Most news is not much real news but biased commentary and entertainment. I often watch BBC for a more neutral perspective. Also like NPR.

jono said...

I am in total agreement here. Civility and manners are passe. Journalists are few and far between or maybe they no longer exist. Politicians are no longer statesmen and I am glad I am old so I don't have to witness the decline of civilization any longer than I have to.

Jennifer (UnfoldAndBegin) said...

Wow, reading these comments and the awful things some are saying about Jada disgusts me. Her personal life doesn't matter, in fact, someone already made a joke about that before Chris made the joke about her baldness. Like you said, imagine if it had been cancer...and dare I say? Imagine if she'd been white. Jada dressed up in a princess ball gown and probably felt like a princess only to have Chris Rock pull the rug out from under her by bullying her about her medical condition. Was Will right? No. I wish he'd kept his hands to himself and his mouth closed, then he could have gone on social media and vilified Chris Rock for bullying someone with a medical condition. But Chris Rock was wrong as well and should also apologize.

Jack said...

The press use to be another check on the government power, now they are government sycophants. The Pentagon Papers would not be published today because they'd make the Democrats look bad.

Anonymous said...

And newspapers are just as bad as "TV journalism". It is all about the money. Journalism is on life support.

Tabor said...

I think all reporters, whether former politician aides or not, have prejudice. They must work at being in the middle in their reporting and many do an excellent job.

pg slot said...

เว็บตรง ไม่ผ่านเอเย่น เว็บตรง ไม่ผ่านเอเย่น เชื่อถือได้ ปลอดได้ ไม่มีโกงต้องที่นี่ ตอบโจทย์ความต้องการได้ดีอย่างมากทั้งเรื่องของการเงินการเดิมพันที่หลากหลาย เพื่อเป็นการยกฐานะการให้บริการให้ดีขึ้นไป

matina Roberta said...

I started on COPD Herbal treatment from Ultimate Life Clinic, the treatment worked incredibly for my lungs condition. I used the herbal treatment for almost 4 months, it reversed my COPD. My severe shortness of breath, dry cough, chest tightness gradually disappeared. Reach Ultimate Life Clinic via their website at www.ultimatelifeclinic.com . I can breathe much better and It feels comfortable!

Phuwadon said...

ไม่มีเงินฝากขั้นต่ำในเว็บไซต์ Pg SLOT จำนวนเงินฝากขึ้นอยู่กับเงินฝากของผู้เล่นทั้งหมด แต่เรามีเว็บไซต์ที่น่าสนใจมาแนะนำ จะโปร 29 ส่ง 100 หรือ 100 เพิ่ม 300 ฝากสูงสุด 1000 ก็ได้กำไรก้อนโต 1700 บาท เอาไปเล่นซะตาลายกันข้างหนึ่งไปเลย pgslot และยังมีโบนัสอีกเยอะแยะรอให้ผู้เล่นมากดรับมันด้วยตัวเองทั้งนั้น