The Ethics of Looking, Part 3

A shorter post than usual — Wednesday is choir night, after all.

I’m following up on previous musings regarding the topic-cluster of domestic violence, NFL culture, media news vultures and Ray and Janay Rice. Here are parts 1 (soapbox mode) and 2 (my own complicity).

Let’s call Part 3, “When ethics cause inconvenience; or: walking the walk.

Apparently, John Stewart had some very insightful, incisive and funny things to say on The Daily Show last week about how the NFL handled Ray Rice’s February assault on his wife (then fiancee) — or, one could say, how they didn’t handle the incident.

I wouldn’t know. Or at least, I wouldn’t know past the 30-second mark, ‘cos that’s when the first frame from TMZ showed up.*

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The Ethics of Looking

There is yet another piece of leaked media making the Internet rounds and causing all sorts of emotional upheaval and outrage. This time, it’s the video footage of then-Baltimore ravens player Ray Rice beating his then-fiancee unconscious in an Atlantic City elevator. Mainstream news outlets have — with breathless, parasitic glee — been showing and amplifying said video under the umbrella of its “necessity” for reporting the news. (Or raising awareness, or truth-telling, or whatever sort of claptrap bullshit justification serves as today’s flavor.)

Which means I am back to thinking about the ethics of what we choose to watch.

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Peeping Thomas

Tucked in the back of the Philadelphia Art Museum‘s modern galleries is a peculiar, enigmatic piece by Marcel Duchamp. Etant donnes was the artist’s final work*: he spent the final two decades of his life working on the piece after telling the world that he had retired from art-making. Upon his death, the work was discovered and, as per the stipulations of Duchamp’s will, installed at the PMA never to be moved or lent out to other sites.

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Avert Your Eyes

I lead a strange sort of double-life when it comes to things popular and pop-culture-like. On the one hand, I feel as if I live my life on the “geek culture” fringe — as evidenced, I’m sure, by past references to Comic-Con staples like Joss Whedon, True Blood and Game of Thrones. There’s lots of big “mainstream” hits and trends — Survivor, American Idol, Real Housewives all spring to mind — which have in their own time and place saturated the airwaves, and yet which I have never ever seen. Quite frankly, sometimes my monastic schedule, with its endless cycle of work, write, study, sleep, even keeps me from staying up-to-date on geek culture. (This many weeks later, and I still haven’t seen Guardians of the Galaxy. Guess that’s another membership card I’ll be handing in…)

On the other hand, my continued engagement with mainstream morning news (GMA) and print journalism (Entertainment Weekly) means I have a pretty good sense of what the pop culture trends and happenings are, moment to moment.

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