Sia’s Movie “Music”

Meghan Christopher, Olivia Cadrecha, Elizabet Popel, and Amanda Hamilton

Sia has been in the hot seat for controversy over her latest project, the movie Music starring Maddie Ziegler who plays a girl on the autistic spectrum. The movie Music is an example of a film that portrays able-bodied individual acting as if she were autistic, in a manner that is unrealistic and offensive, which essentially takes away the opportunity for someone that is actually autistic to be represented in the media. There are many ethical issues surrounding role casting such as ableism, which is discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities or who are perceived to be disabled. But why is this an issue you should be concerned about? It is important that you understand the ethical implications of casting someone who is not legitimately neurodivergent in a film that is dedicated to representing the autistic community. You must begin to understand how inaccurate representation of marginalized communities affects the betterment of society as a whole. How would you feel if someone that did not go through your struggles acted as they did in front of millions of people on camera?

Many people challenge the concept of ableism in films like Music and other films which cast actors that are not disabled because they believe that ‘acting is acting’ and that acting like a person who is disabled isn’t unethical. But the reality is that the misrepresentation in the film community does perpetuate ableism, and this is something that keeps happening because oftentimes well-known actors and actresses are needed to increase the number of viewers and fans of a film, and there is a small number of disabled or neurodivergent people who fit that bill. This is likely why Sia chose Maddie Ziegler for the main character because she is well known by the public and has a large fan base. It is likely that you know Maddie Ziegler from her debut on the television show Dance Moms. She has danced in multiple music videos for Sia as well. Sia claims that she cannot do a project without Maddie in it. But if that is the case, then why did Sia not cast a neurodivergent actress to play the lead and have Maddie play a supporting role?

Many were frustrated by Sia’s response to her film, because she was very defensive over it and lashed out at people on Twitter as seen below. 

The autistic community and allies of the autistic community were angered by the misinterpretation of autism in the film, as well as the use of exaggerated mannerisms, elaborate flashing lights, and chaotic music. Ziegler herself is not on the spectrum, and many people were angered by the misrepresentation and felt that for someone who claimed to “love and appreciate the autistic community” the film just really missed the mark. The autistic community also spoke out on how they felt about the film on twitter and youtube

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KC Chiefs Blog – Jack Foster

The Kansas City Chiefs football organization has come under fire in the past year due to their team name, stadium name, and logo, which protestors believe to be offensive to Native Americans. 

The Chiefs media team has commented on the situation saying that they are named after a former Kansas City mayor who was nicknamed “Chief”, however, protestors and advocates for Native American people believe that allowing the Chiefs to keep their name and logo “opens the door for demeaning and mocking Native peoples.” According to Dr. Fryburg, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan who is part of the Tulalip Tribes. 

Over the past year, the NFL along with the MLB have taken steps to remove all possible racist team names/logos. Teams such as the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians have dropped their names and logos completely, but so far the only thing that the Chief’s have done is banned people from dressing up as Indians, and are in the process of changing their stadium name (formerly known as Arrowhead stadium). 

As people living in America today, we are indulged by “cancel culture”, and while this situation may feel like an example of cancel culture today, it really holds a much bigger message in regards to racism in America. We have become so used to being stereotypical of other people’s cultures that we have forgotten what words can do to people. Of course not everybody who supports the Chiefs is a racist, rather they are so blinded by all of their favorite athletes who play for the team that they forget what Native Americans actually went through when they are chanting, “Chiefs!” at the games or doing the celebratory “Arrowhead Chop” at Chiefs games. 

Overall, while the Chiefs have taken steps in the right direction regarding their team and what their name stands for, there is still a lot of work to be done in the eyes of protestors and advocates to give Native Americans the respect they deserve in America today. 

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The Coverage of Meghan Markle in the British News Media

The royal family is no stranger to the British media. Being an important part of history and society, they remain a hot topic in the news.  Following her engagement to Prince Harry in 2017, the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, has been the main victim of unfair media coverage and toxic tabloid culture in the United Kingdom.

As some of you may be familiar with, tabloids are often built off of exaggerations, drama, and outright lies. As a result of this, headlines have come out targeting Meghan Markle detailing unsubstantiated claims about a supposeddivorce or the Duchess being “broke”. 

        A fundamental part of a country that leads with integrity is a transparent media that chooses to inform their readers with unbiased news. Furthermore, for this to be possible journalists must follow a code of ethics that will assist them when making decisions about what will be released to the public. The British media broke several ethical obligations such as fairness, truth, accuracy, and prima facie duties of non-injury and justice by targeting Meghan Markle in a staggering and jarring manner. 

        In January of 2019, Daily Mail published an article attacking The Duchess of Sussex for her avocado consumption. The headline reads How Meghan’s favourite avocado snack-beloved of all millennials-is fueling human rights abuses, drought and murder. Years prior, Kate Middleton was praised for curing her pregnancy morning sickness with avocados which turns to show unprofessional attitudes and decisions by the British media.

There’s only one thing that we can do in order to stop the media from unfairly targeting and bullying Meghan or other media personalities, and that is to stop giving these types of media attention. Journalists will stop producing these kinds of stories and cease their publication if they aren’t making them any money and the only way to ensure that is to stop buying their magazines, watching their segments, and clicking on their articles. 

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Ethics of Cancel Culture: Dr. Seuss

Theodor Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss, began publishing children’s books in 1937. Earlier this year, the Seuss Estates announced that they would no longer produce six books because of racial insensitivities depicted in the publications.

“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises told The Associated Press. “Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families.” 

The announcement seemed to drive a surge of support for these Seuss classics. Along with the support, came many arguments about cancel culture. 

Cancel culture is a form of social boycott, where many people come together and collectively avoid works created by people who have exhibited insensitive or harmful behaviors. 

This notion of cancel culture brings up several debates pertaining to whether judgement should equal justice or not. Is it ethical to “cancel” someone, have them fired from their job from a past mistake? There are various ethical issues when it comes to this debate, such as the act of utilitarianism. Is canceling someone for the greatest good? 

All in all, bringing up racial injustice in a broad scope of things is for the greatest good and stimulates change. Whether we didn’t notice it in literary works or chose to ignore it, the pulling of six books is for the greatest good over all.

Now more than ever, we are able to educate ourselves on racial injustice and inspire change throughout. Overall, many publishers have prompted change by recognizing and rejecting aspects of a writer’s work that are out of step with current social and cultural values. 

As goes for the future ahead, companies are now more aware of and less insensitive to racial stereotypes. As a society at large, we are far more educated and much more aware of these stereotypes when we see them.

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Ethics in the News – Lil Naz X ‘Satan Shoe’

Hail Satan shoes: why did the 'Banksy of the internet' put blood in 666  Nike Air Max? | Fashion | The Guardian

The famous rapper, Lil Naz X released his brand new song and music video named “Montero”. In this song and in the music video are various references to satan and his values, which is what started the controversy. The song was supposed to be an open letter to his younger self about coming out and why he did. Following the release, the rapper announced that he created a shoe collaboration with MSCHF called ‘Satan Shoe”. 

There were 666 total pairs sold at a total of $1,018 per pair. Each shoe was also infused with a drop of blood in the sole. If that isn’t enough to be disturbing, the shoe used was created by Nike; but Nike had no knowledge of the creation of this shoe nor do they associate with the rapper at all. Following the shoe drop, he went on social media to voice his opinion.

He posted a YouTube video titled “Lil Naz X Apologizes for ‘Satan Shoe’”. He started out speaking regarding the controversy then his sentence gets cut short by his music video interrupting and taking up the rest of the video; he used to opportunity as another way to promote his song. He shared that he had no regrets and did not apologize for possibly offending potential fans by how he conveyed his message.

The reaction from this situation has remained to be negative throughout the media. The use of real human blood has triggered people to question the rapper’s morality and question the type of content he creates to further his career. The distributing company and Nike have reached a settlement and have proceeded to sue for trademark infringement.

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Ethics In the News Media Coverage for the Tampa Bay Super Bowl

The world as we once knew is no longer considered normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic hit the United States in March of 2020, leaving many people confused about how to continue living their lives. Although, if you live in the state of Florida, COVID-19 is nothing to be worried about. At the start of COVID, Florida was like every other state. They followed along with most covid restrictions but as time went on the state became less and less worried about curfews, capacities, and masks. Throughout the last year living through the pandemic, Florida has gained quite a reputation. Not only because Governor DeSantis has made the state “open” but because the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rightfully so won the 2021 Super Bowl. 

Due to the big win in their home stadium, the city of Tampa lost all control. There were parties in the street with hundreds of people avoiding social distancing and not wearing masks. For a few seconds, it was like the pandemic did not exist. However, for those who could not experience this moment for themselves the media did a great job capturing it.

The difference in coverage between both local and national news is that one is focusing on the positive effects of the Super Bowl as the other focuses on the negative effects. Local news captures the excitement of fans after months of living through the pandemic. Whereas, national news wants to continue drilling fear into their audiences. Regardless, both station’s coverage was fair to those who were tuning in. 

  Florida news stations covered the event with pride and excitement finding no problem with fans avoiding the pandemic. In fact, in one clip from the local Channel 8 News, Jeff Patterson, the news anchor justifies the celebrations by stating “maybe it’s due to months of isolation from the pandemic, or maybe it’s more fun than protest or politics.”  Other justifications given at the local level is that it will economically help the Tampa community. 

Whereas national news covered the event differently.  NBC News did a story on the Tampa Bay Super Bowl titling it “New Covid Superspreader Fears After Super Bowl Celebrations.” Throughout the story, they discuss the fear from health officials due to large gatherings and celebrations. Overall, they made it sound like a crime to celebrate the win. They also constantly referred to statistics and death toll numbers. This constantly reminds viewers that this virus has not gone away. 

Local news stations may have incorporated bias within their coverage, however, would the tables have turned if the Super Bowl was in another city? What would you have done if you were in Tampa when a historic victory was made? A lot of residents found this as a bright spot during a time of darkness.We may never know truly what the right way to act in this situation was, but according to research, there were no spikes in cases and history was made. 

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Craving Conscious Consumption: How 2020 Has Changed the Fashion Industry for Good

The pandemic has affected many industries including fashion. In 2020 we watched the world come to a halt and so did the fast pace lives of consumers leading to a decline in fast fashion. As we were seeking to find comfort and experiences from home, many of us came to the realization of what we found important in the brands we were purchasing from. 

Consumers are focusing on conscious consumption meaning that they are looking to gain a connection through the products they are purchasing from and a desire to impact the greater good, meaning less waste and the demand for slow fashion movement. 

As the consumer’s mindset evolves, brands are working to communicate their plans for sustainability and ethical decision making. Brands are shifting their designs and production to let us know that they are a part of the sustainable fashion movement and worthy of our hard-earned dollar. 

But is there that big of a difference between shopping fast fashion versus small? 

The answer is yes. Fast fashion has proven to be problematic in multiple ways. Between the blatant disregard of fair labor laws and unfortunate environmental impacts, the industry is far from perfect. 

To start, a staggering one in six people work in fashion worldwide, and the industry contains some of the most and least wealthy people on the planet. While billionaires are capitalizing off cheap, outsourced labor, in countries like Bangladesh only 3% of workers said they were eating adequate amounts of food. 

Further, the environmental impacts of fast fashion are reprehensible. The fashion industry was responsible for 8-10% of global carbon emissions in 2019, amounting to more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. 

The imperfect state of the fast fashion industry explains why the overwhelming shift to slow fashion prompted by the pandemic is an important occurrence relating to current culture and society’s moral standards. As a community, we are turning away from convenience and considering what our clothing is really costing us. 

What does that mean for communication professionals?

As this shift in demand for the fashion industry occurs, fashion brands must adapt to the needs of the consumers and work to make impactful products. A great example of this would be using marketing methods like cause related marketing which is used by businesses who are not only looking to make a successful business but impact on the community. The shift in this industry could be for the better, it is up to us to hold brands accountable and inspire a change. 

Photograph: Muhammad Fadli/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Tips for Blogging Here

Ethics in the News:  That’s your topic.  Stick to it.  You can focus on any issue covered in the news recently.

Research and Support:  Sound brilliant.  Explore the featured issue from multiple perspectives. Also discuss ethical theories that relate to the case. Support your claims, especially if you are being critical of someone or something.  Cite your sources by naming them and/or linking directly to their information.  If your reader wants to know more, she can quickly access additional information.

Be Interactive:  Include hyperlinks to your sources and other interesting content about your blog topic.  Include hyperlinks early in your blog and often…but don’t overdo it.

Use Images:  Use images to strengthen your content and add interest for your reader, but keep your images relevant.

Be Succinct.  Most experts recommend about 250 words.  Use good judgement.  The length of this blog is an example of suitable length.

Be Conversational:  Write your blog in a conversational tone.  Use second-person voice and speak directly to the reader.  Say “you,” “we,” “us,” etc. to include the reader in your topic.

Invite Conversation:  This is key.  Your blog should include a call to action—the action being for the reader to talk back and continue the conversation.

Write Well.  Need I say more?

There are many resources out there about writing good blogs.   And guess what?  They’re mostly blogs.  Check them out.  If you find a good source, we’ll share it on our Resources pages.


Grading:  Yes, I know you’re concerned about a grade.  Imagine all the headers listed above will form the grading rubric for this assignment.  That’s all there is to it.

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Contract Cheating

A testing center at Penn State uses high-tech surveillance to watch for student cheating.  (Photo:  Jim Lo Scalzo for USN&WR)

When I first taught this class many years ago, I featured a Blog about the University of Central Florida (UCF) cheating scandal, whereby a professor accused students of cheating on the midterm exam.  Since that time, UCF and many other institutions have gone high tech to fight cheating, and the use of online plagiarism detection services (such as have become commonplace. 

A not-so-new cheating buzzword caught my attention this year:  “contract cheating.”  I have long been aware of professional services that provide written work for a fee, but I was not aware how much attention this topic has garnered or how much the practice has grown among college students

I agree the companies that provide this service have become more conspicuous, and students may have become more jaded to the seriousness of this offence.  In an NPR news story about students cheating their way through college, I was struck by one student who didn’t consider it “cheating” if she paid someone to write “original” work.

“They don’t plagiarize,” she said, “…they write everything on their own.”

As much as professors would like to think this topic is black-and-white, it is not.  There are many different positions you could take.  Some cast blame on educators and even our parents.  There also are many ethical approaches you could take to explore the reasoning that leads to cheating, including utilitarianism, virtue ethics, even social contract theory and many more. 

The International Center for Academic Integrity sponsors an International Day of Action against contract cheating (in October every year).

I look forward to engaging this year’s class on the topic and to hearing your views and perspectives.

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Super Bowl’s Controversial Team Names

The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers competed for the title of Super Bowl champions this year, and as fans cheered and participated in the teams’ game day traditions, many of them probably did not think about the history of their favorite teams’ name.

 In his article about the Super Bowl teams’ names, Matthew Rosza explains how the controversial names not only belittle Native American history, but also the suffering they face today. 

The Chiefs’ name is problematic, however, the fans’ rituals, such as the “tomahawk chop,” that occur at Arrowhead Stadium may be even worse. “These mascots reinforce a stereotype and incorrect symbolism that Indians are uncivilized and uneducated,” said Kevin Allis, the CEO of the National Congress of American Indians and a member of the Forest County Potawatomi Community. They negatively affect Native Americans’ self-esteem, especially children and teenagers who may be represented as savage-like by their own high school’s sports teams. 

Although most fans probably are not purposely trying to offend anyone, does that make it okay? Or is the fact that they are offending people enough to get rid of Native American representations?

While many Native Americans believe these images and traditions should be banned, others have differing perspectives. A video posted by WGBH News shows a debate between two Native Americans who disagree over a bill that would ban high school teams from using names and logos that refer to the Native American culture. 

Gene Weeden, who is against the ban, said he sees it as an honor, and that there are more important things to care about. Conversely, Jason Packineau said people should just not be used as mascots in general. 

How do you feel about sports teams’ controversial names? Do you think they should put a ban on “racist” names? Let us know below.

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