Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Whoring


I've been thinking about whores a lot lately. No no, not the walking the streets in Queens working for your next rock and having a HBO crew follow you around for an "after dark" documentary kind of whore. I'm talking about the anything for a buck as long as it benefits me no matter who else in the world it might hurt kind of whore.

I wrote about this a little over a month ago and I never really got any comments beyond Joe defending the practice of watching out for Number One, so I thought I'd touch on the subject again for my first Roundtable.

I love calling people whores. I do it all the time. One little word can pretty much sum-up a person. Like, it is the perfect description for both Paris Hilton and Donald Trump, right? Even more so if you use "media" as a prefix. If I tell you I think someone is a whore, you get very clearly how I feel about someone. It's one of those beautiful descriptive terms. Like ass-hole.

Side to actual whores: I mean no disrespect comparing your straight-forward service for cash business to bottom feeders like Donald Trump. There just isn't a better replacement word for my point.

Anyway, my point is that the whole world, and especially America, seems to be filled with whores. People just seem so willing to sell their soul for an easy buck, even if it contributes to the pain, oppression, maiming and death of others. "As long as I get mine, fuck everybody else" is the prevailing attitude of the world.

The example that comes to mind most often for me is people who do commercials or promotion for nefarious and just plain old evil companies. And it drives me nuts. Not just because I spent several years studying theatre and never really considered using what I learned to sell diet soda or car insurance. I mean, I think that still makes one a whore for doing it, but there is an argument to be made for an actor trying to make a living. But there is the kind of whoring that is on a whole different level than that.

When someone helps promote a company that causes human suffering because they are getting paid a lot, that's something I find unforgivable. Nobody seems to have a place where they draw the line anymore. Well, there might be one place. Nazis and the Holocaust. Whenever I'm talking to someone (i.e. an actor) about what they would or wouldn't do, and I get to the question of whether or not they would do (or would have done in the 30s and 40s) a commercial promoting the Nazi party or for the extermination of Jews, they say "well, of course not."

I usually like to broaden that question out to whether or not they would have made a commercial for a product that they know was the direct result of, say, forced labor in concentration camps. You know, would you accept money to promote widgets that were made in slave camps where people were forced to work 18 hour days and people were killed on a regular basis? Again, that gets treated as a preposterous question, no decent person would do such a thing.

But then ask that same person if they would make a commercial for the De Beers company, the world's biggest (almost only) diamond company. You usually get a different answer. But why? The actions of the De Beers are directly responsible for the maiming, torturing and killing of thousands of people in African countries that produce diamonds, one of the most notable being Sierra Leone. And many of the people who had limbs chopped off so they wouldn't steal the diamonds from the mines were children. Many were also enslaved to work the mines.

The irony that shadows of hands were symbol of De Beers for so many years is lost on many people.

And I think the two actors that played the parts of the hands in those ads are just as guilty of crimes against humanity as Leni Riefenstahl. Leni didn't actually kill any Jews herself, but she sure did a heck of a job of promoting the Nazi agenda with her propaganda films. Is she off the hook for just "taking a gig"?

To me, the biggest whore in the Whore Hall of Fame is Michael Jordan. The man has no shame or soul whatsoever. He certainly doesn't have the "need the money" excuse that so many actors tend to use. At one point he was the most recognizable person in the world, and a prime example of elite athleticism. And what does an elite athlete encourage kids around the world to do? Eat McDonald's and drink Coke. I would guess that he didn't get to be the best basketball player in the world by doing that. Oh, and he had his name put on a really expensive shoe that was largely made by child laborers working in substandard conditions for up to 16 hours a day for very low wages.

The kids who made the shoe may have not been getting much, but Michael made sure to get his. It has been said that while Jordan was playing he was paid more money each year by Nike than they paid their entire Vietnamese and Indonesian workforces combined.

Of course there are examples everywhere, not just in Hollywood and the entertainment industry. Doctors and scientists who work for the tobacco industry or do infomercials for "health products" they know to be worthless come to mind. Like I said, we seem to be surrounded by whores.

So what are your thoughts? Do you think I have a point, or do you think that anything anybody does to make a buck is OK? Where would you draw the line? Outta sight, outta mind, or do people need to think more about the effect of their actions on others even if they don't get to see it first hand?

But even more importantly, who are the people that you think are the biggest whores?

31 comments:

Prego said...

I call these guys the Wh*res.

And yes, I agree. What's even worse is when people wh*re out their kids to sell Welch's™ or some other sugar fix.

We have a Fisher-Price plant near us. They have a program where you can bring your kid in, they take pictures of him/her playing with some toys. They use them in catalogues and packaging and send you off with a $25 gift certificate for toys. People always tell me how beautiful my boys are and how we should take them there or do modeling... but, I'm not into wh*ring out my kids.

Ville said...

This is one of the best posts I have read in a long time. Good job.
I completely agree with you on this one. I think part of the problem is ignorance. Maybe if people were educated about the truth behind some of these products, maybe they wouldn't be quite as inclined to hawk for them.

Deni said...

Wow Prego, Fisher Price is one cheap-ass company. I'll bet Victoria's Secret wish they only had to give $25 worth of product to their models (of course, that begs the question if it is even possible to spend that small amount of money at VS). Good point about parents doing it to their kids. A pimp is way more vile than a whore.

Thanks Ville, I apppreciate the compliment. I don't know if it is true that people would think about it more if they knew the facts. Who doesn't know the scoop on Nike's business practices these days? I know a couple of people that have done Nike commercials and they know what's up. But as long as they get their royalty checks they don't care.

Steph said...

I left a comment last night, but I guess I didn't post it correctly. In it I placed the blame squarely onto the now 50-something parents who raised an entire generation of dysfunctional narcissists.

The parents spend more time with their work than with their families in order to afford all of the must-have "toys" for both their kids and themselves. And Day Care is not a Kinder Garten (children's garden), but a Kinder Dschungel children's jungle). That's where the problems begin. Think not? Spend a day in a Day Care facility. These kids have to scream and act out just to get their basic needs met and they take that not only home with them (where Mom and Dad are too tired to discipline -- it's easier just to give in -- but into the world as they mature into adults). By not getting their needs met during the day and being allowed to do, say and have anything they want at home, life becomes imbalanced and the kids grow up thinking they are at the center of the universe. Take care of #1. Screw the armless children. That's their problem. Whatev.

Consequently, this generation -- and the new one as well -- have been conditioned to view the world and other people only through the distorted prism of their own selfish wants and desires. Thus the diamonds, the energy-hogging SUVs, etc. etc.

Although I'm a Liberal in nearly everything else, I'm very conservative when it comes to the raising of children. Not a popular place to be, and not at all politically correct.

Great post!

Steph said...

Sorry about the typos. My vision is particularly bad right now.

RW said...

Here, allow me to get you off...
Google censors results on the orders of the Chinese government.

Google owns Blogspot.

I use Blogspot.

I am a whore.

That'll be 50 bucks...

the beige one said...

Ooooh, Steph, you echo my thoughts on the matters you address precisely.

And while I agree with Deni on Jordan (though he is far from the first in his arena, he was definitely the one who profited most), I'm much more conflicted about damning Ms. Riefenstahl. Her argument had been that she was documenting a popular movement whose influence was about five years old at the time she was shooting Triumph of the Will

Was she aware of the genocidal program in 1934, where such things were still in rumor form in Germany? Maybe, maybe not. At worst you can blame her for ignoring the anti-semitic portion of Hitler's agenda, but at that point, you'd have to call the entirety of the German population at that time whores. Hindsight is 20/20, after all, let's not point to just one person.

Which is my answer to "who's the biggest whore?" The German Population of the late 1920s to early 1940s.

Joe said...

Deni, we've had this conversation a million-plus times. And I've just gotta say that I don't have quite the problem you do with this. Corporations are, by and large, not caring, nurturing institutions, but I don't think some poor actor is necessarily declaring that they whole-heartedly endorse what said corporations stand for when they take a paycheck to do a commercial. It's a job.

Deni said...

Again, you're still missing the point Joe. That's exactly what I mean by whore. "An actor getting a paycheck" just shouldn't be a moral get out of jail free card. The guards at Aushwitz were just doing their job too. Human beings have gotten too good at blaming faceless corporations or organizations for the world's ills without actually looking at the humans who participate in the evil. A group of human beings got together in a board room at Ford and decided to let people die when the Pintos exploded rather than recall the cars, deciding it would be cheaper to settle lawsuits from those deaths than to fix the problem. So Ford the corporation paid out money, but the evil fucks who decided to let people die never had to face any real consequence.

Seriously, is nothing off limits as long as it helps you pay your rent, no matter who it hurts? Would you take money to promote the smoking of crack to 4th graders? What about a commercial for NAMBLA? Would you do a promo for the KKK? I don't see why we would condemn people for doing that but not for doing it for De Beers, which has actually caused more real damage than sick fucks like NAMBLA and the KKK.

By the way, this whole "doesn't mean they endorse it" just because they do a commercial thing...umm...you know it's called an endorsement right?

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Joe Wack, future spokeman for Soylent Green (now with more kids!)

Deni said...

Great points Steph, how people are raised certainly has an effect. And there is now a whole generation of us adults who were raised by the "Me Generation". Damn hippies.

Beigey, I understand what you are saying about Leni, but I think we tend to want to let people like her off the hook too easily as well becasue she was a great atrist. I think her argument about just documenting a popular movement doesn't hold water when you consider that she was on Hitler's payroll when she made it. It's also been said that she was given Jewish slave laborers to work on the crews of her films. I gave a hard time believing she didn't know what the Nazis were doing to the Jews, even if she didn't know about the "final solution" everyone in Germany did know about all the other things that were being done to them, which was bad enough. And I've seen Triumph Of The Will several times, it is a beautifully made film. But I don't know how anyone could see it and not know that it is a propaganda film, not a documentary. Does that make her more guilty than the majority of the German populace of that time? I don't know.

Good point RW. I was saddened by that news when I first saw it. Google is voluntarily doing something they would fight tooth and nail if it were being done in our country. Why they think it is OK to do to the Chinese is beyond me.

Joe said...

This is your argument? Deni, who the fuck is going to ask me--or any actor--to make a commercial for NAMBLA, Crack for Kids or the KKK? I'm sorry, but I don't agree that most corporations are quite the moral equivalent of any of these.

And as far as "missing the point", I utterly get your point, my friend. I just don't agree with you.

Deni said...

Tell the kids walking around Sierra Leone without arms that the De Beers company walks a higher moral plane than the KKK.

the beige one said...

Deni, would you take $50k to promote the Atlanta Braves, even though it continues to perpetuate a racist image of Native Americans, despite pleas to desist?

Deni said...

I don't think so. I do feel guilty about even being a fan of a team that won't stop using a racist mascot or name, that has a lot to do with why I don't wear any Braves shirts or hats anymore. But I suppose one doesn't know what one would really do until said $50k is waved in front of their face.

RW said...

I'm on Blogger despite Google because I actually don't givr a shit about political prisoners in China.

Shouldn't you be finding your own domain name by now though, Deni?

the beige one said...

well, at least you admit to being a possible whore.

RW said...

Aren't we all, to something?

Deni said...

And to Joe, let me re-comment on your last remark instead of leaving it at the quick, somewhat flippant reply I had.

Yes, I do think the idea of a commercial for NAMBLA or the KKK is ridiculous, that's why I picked such extreme examples. That's the point. I did not compare most corporations to the morals of those groups, I just compared one. I'll go ahead and add another one, Nike. So is it OK to make commercials for a company that is either directly responsible for maiming, killing and torture in Africa (De Beers) or one that you know for a fact runs sweat shops with children (Nike)? And if yes, how would that be different than making an ad for NAMBLA or the KKK or, if this were still the 30s and 40s, for a company that sells a product that was made by concentraiton camp slave labor?

My argument is not that every actor who has ever been in a commercial is evil, though it is not a choice I would make myself, but that people who look the other way and take money that they know comes from the oppression of others for their own self interests are, in fact, evil whores.

Lots of kids in southeast Asia worked long days for little money in a Nike sweatshop so a guy I know could sit on his ass in LA eating potato chips and collecting royalty checks and call himself a "working" actor. And he made more money for that one day of work than a worker in a Nike factory gets all year.

Deni said...

For the record, I never declared myself whore-free. I hope that I'm at least whore-lite.

Atul said...

We all sell ourselves out to a certain degree. It's nearly impossible not to. We would all have to live in the woods off of nature to do avoid it.

I work for a company that has done evil things in the past, but they do a lot of good including creating useful products, jobs and livelihood for myself and others.

I invest in stocks and mutual funds and although I put a large percentage of money in socially responsible funds, to put it all in those types of funds would be unwise.

In then end I guess it's OK to wh*re oneself out (within reason) to make money to do good things with it. We must play the game to get ahead to beat the system.

And I have to respond to Steph about the new generations being selfish. I wrote a post about this a while ago. I agree that kids today don't get the attention they need but get all the things they need and more and this distorts them. But they are a product of their parents' generation. I would argue that our generation is that way because the prior generations have been too selfish. Who keeps all the executive positions, won't retire, squeezes employees to work harder for less money and fewer benefits, makes housing unaffordable, ruins the environment out of greed? It's the baby boomer generation and now Gen X. They have to try to get what they can because their parents' generations are not sharing and there's not much left. Luckily, nobody can take it with them when they die.

used*to*be*me* said...

Came over from Prego’s site and thought I’d throw my two cents into the pot. I think we are all whores to some extent. Shit, anybody who gets up and goes to work every day is a whore (to the job, the mortgage, the car, etc.) Even if we educated all the people on all the issues, it wouldn’t change much in my humble opinion. I do my part, but I would have to live in a cave and eat roots and berries to avoid all of the evils and profiteering and whore mongers. All I can do is live right and teach my children to be responsible, upstanding adults who must use their own conscious as their guide. And hope to god that I’ve laid a strong and proper foundation. The rest is up to them.

Steph said...

"And there is now a whole generation of us adults who were raised by the "Me Generation". Damn hippies."

Well, I'm one of those damn hippies. Or I used to be. I'm 55 and was as hippie as they got (my oldest son was conceived in Haight-Ashbury for cryin' out loud), but I still believed in fair discipline, including bed time, "No", and "Because I'm the mommie!".

;)

Stephen V Funk said...

In whoring and in all things... "whatever the market will bear" will always be the golden rule...

Deni said...

Great line Stephen.

And Steph, I hope you got the damn hippie line was a jokey joke, I figured you were one.

So was your son conceived on the actual corner of Haight-Ashbury? And if so, was it the corner where the Gap is now, or the Ben & Jerry's? :)

keda said...

i agree with you. we are most of us whores to some extent. and people like jordan the biggest.

i've been in this position though, of being paid to advertise stuff i hate.
modelling/acting in crappy pop videos for shit musicians, wearing hideous clothes for stupid fashion shoots, saying some stupid paint doesn't stink on telly. i did it because i was skint. and they paid well. which meant a lot as i couldn't afford my rent or a flight home from turkey to the uk at the time i was offered the paint job.

the worst though was after i had my children and their father (we had already seperated and were not on good terms AT ALL) being a commercials director he insisted that our girls (twins) should 'act' in a commercial he was shooting for pampers.
we had a huge fight. i didn't even use disposable nappies as i HATE the company and for environmental reasons chose to use washable nappies. finally though i gave in but insisted that i wouldn't actually let them wear the brand nappies under their clothes. they would keep their own.

on the set i made a show of how easy and simple the washables were, and ended up having another huge discussion/fight with one of the heads of proctor and gamble in europe who had come to oversee.
he accidentally admitted eventually that their company no longer even used sustainable/managed forests! i told him about other more ethical, green forms of disposable pads and gave adresses and in the end it was quite a fruitful exchange.
and the hoglets wore their cottons throughout. and got paid well. $1000 each in a bank account.

the father and i now have an agreement that we will not be doing anymore babywhoring.

but i don't really regret that anymore. though i was furious at the time and felt terribly guilty.

so though i agree we should all think very carefully about the consequences of our actions and the effects they have on the less fortunate, it is sadly not always possible to be perfect.

now feeling fairly comfy i'd turn my nose up at most evil whoring work... but if i couldn't meet next months rent, or healthcare for my children... hell i'd pull up ronald macdonalds tights with my teeth. i'd hate myself for it. but i'd do it nonetheless.
if i had to. only then.

Lynn said...

I think a lot of you are way too intolerant. Most people don't want to be bothered with behind the scenes details. They don't think about, or sometimes don't even know about, the people dying in diamond mines or the children working all day in sweatshops. And there's another side to that too. Most of those people who are working 16 hours a day for just a few cents wouldn't even have those few cents if it weren't for the evil American companies who employ them.

And a lot of the stuff some of you are talking about is just silly. Of course McDonald's is not exactly healthy but there's nothing wrong with eating there once in a while if you like it and certainly nothing wrong with a celebrity being on an advertisement for it.

About sports teams with "racist" mascots. Please! Having a team named after you is supposed to be an honor and if the people so honored don't like it then that's just too bad. They need to quit being so pissy. How come "Vikings" isn't an offensive mascot? How come "Cowboys" isn't an offensive mascot. First of all because, as I said, having a mascot named after your group is not offensive and second, because they (Vikings and Cowboys) are Europeans and European Americans and everyone knows it's perfectly okay to offend people of European descent.

L said...

To clarify: when I said "Most people don't want to be bothered with behind the scenes details...." I didn't mean that that's okay, just that it's not evil. It's just common, ordinary human nature. We can't be aware of everything. Each of us is unaware of many things which, if we were aware of, might make us change our behavior or make different choices.

Tinker said...

Deni, you mentioned the Ford Pinto and the rear end impact/explosion problem? Do some research. You will find that for the car to explode, it had to be hit by a vehicle moving at 65 miles per hour *relative to the Pinto* That's a lot of kinetic energy! You'd be dead anyway. THAT is why they decided it wasn't a big problem, not because of any evil bad group of faceless Ford engineers.

Furthermore, have you, yourself, ever SEEN a Pinto explode, or evidence thereof? If you will do more of that evil difficult R-word (reading) you will find that for gasoline to burn up with any energy, it needs to be at a very specific ratio, about 14.7:1. So the tank has to be just the right level when the car is hit at 65 MPH.

And since the whole thing started about "Whoring", (I can type it, it won't hurt me) How many of you high and mighty better than everybody people filled your cars with gasoline today? Hmm? Who here rode your american made (not Tiwanese, Not Chinese, not Indonesian) bicycle to work today?

I thought so.

Deni said...

Tinker, you are a fool and completely wrong. There were actual cases of Pintos blowing uo and your claims are not born out by the actual facts that came out in the lawsuit.

I have to have "seen" it for it to be real. I've never seen the fucking top of Mt. Everest, does that mean it doesn't exist in your mind you right-wing fuck wad?

Oh, and I walk or subway it to work and in my social life every day, so kiss my proud putting my money where my mouth is ass.

Lynn, do you not think "Redskins" is racist? If not, then please explain how you are able to fit your head so far up your own ass.

Melissa said...

Real Estate agents. They are big time whorebags (which is my favorite swear word, by the way).

Steph–Great points. With two young children, I see this all the time. My kids have loads and loads of toys and I don't even buy them toys. Friends and extended family shower them with toys that aren't needed. Especially because my 3 1/2 year old daughter would much rather put a plastic bowl on her head, a towel around her neck and run around pretending to be superman. Whatever happened to letting kids use their imaginations.

And to tinker--I suggest that you yourself do some research on the pinto case. The first lawsuit involved a 30 miles per hour crash and the jury awarded punitive damages of $125 million. There were over 100 lawsuits against Ford and 60 people burned to death because it was a little expensive for Ford to fix something they knew was faulty. Internal documents in the lawsuits proved that Ford, from the top down, knew exactly what would happen and thought a few deaths would be worth getting the new model out 6 months early. They called it a risk/benefit analysis. Oh, and it would have only cost them 11 bucks per car to fix it and save all these lives. Try going to your local library and looking for a 1977 article in Mother Jones magazine. It won a Pulitzer.

Lynn said...

I will admit that anyone who objects to "Redskins" has a point since (except for the mascot) that word has always been used only in a derogatory sense. (Unlike Braves) However, anyone who is offended by a sports mascot to the point of activism is taking it way, way too seriously.

I love the last few comments. I really do. Hilarious. There's no better evidence that Liberalism is a religion than the reaction when someone challenges the assumptions of a bunch of Liberals. It's pretty much the same as going to a conservative site and saying God doesn't exist.