January 2006 Ethics Dunce

George Clooney

Sometimes this category raises the question of whether the individual involved is truly an ethics dunce, or just a regular, old-fashioned, run-of-the-mill dunce. Actor Clooney is a case in point.

Here he is, getting an award on a nationally televised show, and he decides that this is the ideal time to make a crude, embarrassingly juvenile comment that would be acceptable in the macho all-guy bashes that the actor reportedly enjoys but had no more business on the Golden Globes than a farting contest. Referring to indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff (don't even attempt to figure out what he had to do with the Golden Globe Awards), what the former "ER" heartthrob said was:

"Who would name their kid Jack with the last words 'off' at the end of your last name? No wonder that guy is screwed up."

Oh...now we get it! Jack…off! A vulgar colloquialism for male masturbation! You know, with all the ink spilled over Abramoff's wheeling and dealing, I'll bet nobody thought of this delightful play on words before, perhaps because it is…hmmm, how best to put it? Stupid!!! Truly witless, unfunny, and tasteless. But even if a handful of 13 year olds and some older arrested development cases did think of it, one would think…or hope…that every one of them would have the sense to know that this bon mot was not proper prime time network TV content, and thus save the knee-slapper for the proper time, like at 2:30 AM after doing shots and beer and watching a Gilligan's Island marathon on "TV Land."

But not Handsome George! No, now that he has been anointed by fawning media liberals and bashed by Bill O'Reilly as Hollywood's new and better-looking version of Tim Robbins (that is, the new self-important, under-informed, over-exposed, crusading liberal scold), Clooney evidently feels that he will disappoint his fans if he does not grab every opportunity to make a politically trenchant remark. So given the spotlight at the Golden Globes, the best he could come up with is "jack…off."


Also wrong. Appearing on television, or being "invited into the audience's living room" as the old time TV stars used to put it, creates ethical obligations of civility and respect which, needless to say, a "jack-off" comment does not meet. Clooney also failed his obligation to his hosts, the producers of the award show, not to behave in a rude, crude, and inappropriate manner. Last but not least, he failed the ancient entertainment code tenet that says that if you're going to willfully say something offensive, at least make sure that it's funny.




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