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Friday, April 1, 2022

Class Discussion Post: Aretaic Ethics applied to the Chris Rock/Will Smith slap heard around the world.

Attribute: Wall Street JournalWatch: Will Smith Strikes Chris Rock at the Oscars, Then Wins Best Actor

Watch: Will Smith Strikes Chris Rock at the Oscars, Then Wins Best Actor
Watch: Will Smith Strikes Chris Rock at the Oscars, Then Wins Best Actor Play video: Watch: Will Smith Strikes Chris Rock at the Oscars, Then Wins Best Actor


A response to the Wall Street Journal article "Will Smith’s Oscars Slap of Chris Rock Prompts One-Liners and Worry From Comedians", 

#A - Thank you for making me go back and re-read a section of the book I had only skimmed. It was an interesting analysis. 

"Fourth, aretaic ethics is a category of ethics that focuses on the virtues produced in individuals, not the morality of specific acts."
Scott B. Rae, Moral Choices: An Introduction To Ethics, Third Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 16.

#B. I've only read snippets of the event. So the following is an analysis based more on what I know of these individuals and the industry(s) involved than the event itself. But I thought I'd try my hand at the same analysis you demonstrated so well. 

  1. Action. Commedians regularly make jokes about sensetive topics, and many only know they've crossed the line based on reactions of their audience. A comedian who wants to remain ethical should consider ahead of time which topics or methods may be out of line.
  2. Motive. Most commedians just want a laugh, to be liked, and make money from their craft. Was there any personal beef between these two individuals? If so, that may have played a role. Otherwise, the motive wasn't maliscious.
  3. Consequence (Risk/Reward). In this case, one consequence is clear (a slap in the face and many people taking sides). A comdeian always take the risk of going too far. He could also run the risk of being cancelled from future shows; or, being invited to more shows because of his edgeyness. There is a man and woman who feel embarrased or attacked, that is a consequence. There was an event that was interrupted and people who wanted to feel relaxed and laugh then had to face hard things and feel confronted and tense, that is a consequence. There are watchers of the event (media, individuals, social media memes, and more) that have now taken the situation far beyond control as the story spins out. These are just a few of the unintended consequences. 
  4. Character. For people of the book, we have two high callings "Love Yahweh. Love Yahweh's other kids". If we are poking gentle fun at someone's idiosyncrasies and they are enjoying it, then we are acknowleding the messy human qualities, that is acceptable. If we are using someone else, taking laughs at their expense, that is neither loving Yahweh or his children. Dry Bar Comedy has done a fabulous job or gathering various comedians (secular and religious) who work that line between funny and crass. If our involvement with other humans does not leave them feeling loved, seen, heard, and valued, then we have failed in the area of Character (even if it was in the name of comdey).

I didn't know what I would say until I sat with the textbook open and pondered each one, then started typing. But that's my thoughts after processing. Interesting. 

Darrell Wolfe


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