The online trial of Nate Parker

Published: The Daily Dot (August 25, 2016)

Is it OK to separate the moral flaws of an artist from the quality of their art? The answer is yes—so long as you understand the consequences.

It’s become an American trending topic that we can’t ignore across our Facebook feeds. When we find out that Mel Gibson said anti-Semitic things, and Michael Richards used the N-word, or that Johnny Depp is alleged to have beaten his wife, we’re naturally expected to chime in. Sometimes it’s an easy decision: Bill Cosby has been rightly turned into personae non grata following overwhelming evidence that he’s a serial rapist. read more

Leave Jake Lloyd alone: We need compassion for mental illness, not snark

Published: Salon (April 11, 2016)

Life wasn’t easy for Jake Lloyd after his starring role in “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.” As anyone who went to the movies in 1999 will recall, his subpar performance was frequently singled out as a major weakness in a film that was hardly lacking in shortcomings. Lloyd has even discussed how the bullying he received from other kids ultimately turned him off acting for good.

Now Lloyd has been hospitalized for schizophrenia following a ten-month stint in jail, which occurred after he led South Carolina police on a high-speech car chase last June. Predictably, a great deal of the reaction from the Internet has ranged from unsympathetic to downright cruel. “Dude looks like straight sith material. Do not let him out” posted one reader at TMZ. A commenter on Inquirer wrote “too much metaclorian [sic] in blood, bad for the brain.” On Global News, a Star Wars fan snarkily joked that “someone probably showed him Phantom Menace.”

While it’s tempting to chalk this up to the sociopathy that seems to contaminate nerd culture these days (see: Star Wars fans complaining that George Lucas “raped their childhood” or the toxic misogyny brewing in Gamergate), there is a deeper issue at play here. Even though our society is appropriately sympathetic to celebrities who develop serious physical illnesses, we continue to ridicule the ones whose sicknesses are psychological in nature. Despite living at a time when scientific progress has made it clear that mental illnesses are no less preventable than many physiological counterparts, the stigma surrounding these disorders remains – and it is particularly evident in how we respond to celebrities who have them. read more

Martin Luther King and the Panama Papers

Published: Salon (April 9, 2016), The Good Men Project (April 7, 2016)

When Martin Luther King Jr. is brought up in a political conversation, it is usually in reference to his work for civil rights…. and if you’re a member of the proverbial one percent, this is definitely for the best. Considering the reverence with which King is held today, it would ill-serve them if the general public remembered him for quotes like this one:

“Capitalism does not permit an even flow of economic resources. With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience, and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level. That’s the way the system works. And since we know that the system will not change the rules, we are going to have to change the system.” read more

Not another weak celebrity apology: This hollow public ritual desperately needs an overhaul

Published: Salon (February 3, 2016)

When Shia LaBeouf was caught plagiarizing another artist, he launched a performance art piece called #IAmSorry as a statement on the ritual of celebrity apologies. Although his particular offense had nothing to do with bigotry, he could have just as easily been ridiculing the familiar formula that seems to have emerged when celebrities are caught in scandals caused by bigoted comments – racist, sexist, and otherwise.

First there is the collective outrage and consequent shaming from social and traditional media alike. This is followed by the celebrity’s insistence that (a) he or she doesn’t really hold those despicable views and (b) they are genuinely contrite for anyone who may have been offended or hurt by their remarks; and finally, more often than not, the public moves on after having added a metaphorical asterisk next to the reputation and/or legacy of the famous person in question.

At the end of the day, though, does any of this serve some kind of greater good? More specifically, does it allow us to better confront widespread bigotries and determine which celebrities deserve our forgiveness and which do not? read more

Enough about Hillary Clinton’s damn emails!

Published: The Good Men Project (January 30, 2016)

815 words into the Associated Press’s recent 949 word piece on Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, one will find a passage that should appear at the very beginning:

The FBI also is looking into Clinton’s email setup, but has said nothing about the nature of its probe. Independent experts says it’s unlikely Clinton will be charged with wrongdoing, based on details that have surfaced so far and the lack of indications that she intended to break laws. read more

Activision should be ashamed of its ‘Call of Duty’ terrorism hoax

Published: The Daily Dot (October 4, 2015)

To promote the upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Activision reskinned the franchise’s Twitter account into a fake news agency called “Current Events Aggregate.” Its plan was to tease the plot of the new game through these fictitious news stories. Unfortunately, the company neglected to clearly indicate that any of the tweets they posted – which claimed there had been an explosion on the Singapore Marina – were actually fictional.

The stunt was meet with strong criticism across the board, as the Daily Dot’s Dennis Scimeca noted in his original report. read more

The sex offender behind “Jeepers Creepers”: Should Hollywood support Victor Salva’s return to the hit horror franchise?

Published: Salon (September 14, 2015)

You may not know the name Victor Salva, but if you’re a fan of horror movies the chances are good you’ve seen one of his most famous films: “Jeepers Creepers,” the2001 sleeper hit about a winged monster in the Nebraska countryside who goes on a killing spree every 23 years to replenish his internal organs. Considering that it spawned a successful sequel in 2003, it was only a matter of time before a studio decided to produce a third installment. According to an announcement last week, legendary director Francis Ford Coppola (of “The Godfather” fame) plans on joining forces with Myriad Pictures to do precisely that. read more

Josh Duggar’s hypocrisy is part of a much larger cultural problem

 

Published: The Daily Dot (August 21, 2015)

America’s most high-profile Christian conservatives often use their social media platforms and media prominence to extol the virtues of chastity—only to get caught up in sex scandals.

The most recent example comes by way of Josh Duggar, one of the oldest kids from the hit reality TV show 19 Kids and CountingComing on the heels of a revelation last month that Duggar molested five young girls (including his own sisters), Americans have now learned that the outspoken opponent of same-sex marriageabortion rights, and sex education was cheating on his wife with an account on the notorious dating site for cheaters, Ashley Madison. “I have been the biggest hypocrite ever,” Duggar proclaimed in a public statement. “While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the Internet and this became an addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife.” read more