- - Sunday, February 20, 2011

Blame the good guy

“Great works and praiseworthy behavior may bring respect and admiration, but these won’t help us to escape blame when we do something wrong, says a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland and Harvard University. To do that, the researchers say, one needs to be a victim not a hero!

“In the study, participants responded to a number of scenarios that mirrored real-life moral transgressions, from stealing money to harming someone. Results revealed that, no matter how many previous good deeds someone had done, they received just as much blame — if not more — than someone with a less heroic background.

“‘People may come down even harder on someone like the Dalai Lama, than they do on Joe Blow,’ said author Kurt Gray, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Maryland. ‘However, in our research those who have suffered in the past received significantly less blame — even if such suffering was both totally unrelated to the misdeed and long since past.’”

From “To Escape Blame, Be a Victim, Not a Hero, New Study Finds,” on Feb. 16 at Science Daily


“Call it 2011: The year the sequel strikes back. 2010 was an incredible year for movies. Or rather, it was an incredible year for a movie. Christopher Nolan’s ‘Inception’ was an ambitious, layered and complex tentpole sci-fi actioner and there was no antecedent for it. ‘Inception’ was a rare film in Hollywood: a gigantic tentpole not based on a comic book, a graphic novel, an animated series, toys or a previous movie. There was zero reference point for audiences and more importantly, it was hugely expensive (over $200 million).

“It was a calculated risk for Warner Bros. who likely did not want to upset the golden child who had brought “The Dark Knight” to over $1 billion worldwide. But even then they had to secure one of the biggest A-list stars in the world (Leonardo DiCaprio) to make it potentially viable and surround him with a who’s who of interesting supporting cast members …

“In an interesting overlap of sentiments, Mark Harris … has posited in the newest issue of GQ … how ‘Inception’ was a triumph in Hollywood against the odds and conventional wisdom, and yet major film studios have rarely noticed and instead are greenlighting crud after crud project. Part of his thesis rests on the examples of myriad sequels opening in 2011 … Hollywood doesn’t like to gamble too often and looking ahead, the future of big-budget original films is a little bleak.”

Edward Davis, writing on “Is Hollywood Afraid of ‘Inception’ & Original Ideas?” on Feb. 17 at the Indiewire blog the Playlist

The new tone

“This is hardly surprising since we’re talking about the same university that invited Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak, but even still, words escape me: ‘Columbia University students heckled a war hero during a town-hall meeting on whether ROTC should be allowed back on campus. “Racist!” some students yelled at Anthony Maschek, a Columbia freshman and former Army staff sergeant awarded the Purple Heart after being shot 11 times in a firefight in northern Iraq in February 2008.’

“Pathetic, but predictable. The inexcusable treatment of Anthony Maschek by people who won’t understand or appreciate the US military until there are Chinese tanks sitting in the lobbies of their dormitories and suicide bombers in Schermerhorn Hall (and probably not even then) isn’t necessarily because he’s a military veteran — it could be because his name isn’t Bradley Manning.”

Doug Powers, writing on “New Civility Update: Columbia University Students Heckle Purple Heart Veteran,” on Feb. 20 at MichelleMalkin.com

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