Manufacturing Controversy Once Again: The Media’s Pathetic Handling of John McEnroe and Serena Williams

Recently, former tennis great John McEnroe said something hateful, sexist, and mean about Serena Williams.  Or at least that’s what most of the news and sports outlets want to say, such as ESPN, SB Nation, BBC News, Salon, Deadspin, CNN, The Huffingpost, and… well, virtually everyone.  Headlines burst forth that McEnroe claimed that Serena would only rank about #700 in the men’s tour.  When Serena responded on Twitter by telling him to not make statements that aren’t “factually based” and to respect her and her privacy, the media and people on social media cheered.  She put McEnroe “in his place.”  She “owned” him.  She had a “perfect” response.

Too bad all of this is an example of childish over-sensitivity, delusion, terrible logic, and pitiful reading comprehension from most people.  It’s also an example of the media taking words out of context to manufacture a controversy to get gullible people riled up.  McEnroe was not only right, he was also merely answering a question.  Look at his words in context:

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Sebastian: Encouraging Sexual Harassment

The Little Mermaid is a Disney classic, and our family had it on VHS back in the day.  The story contains one of Disney’s most endearing characters, Sebastian the Crab.  He is well-known for his Jamaican accent as well as his catchy songs such as “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl.”  However, when you listen to the latter one closely, it begins to sound… odd.  And a little disturbing, because Sebastian is essentially encouraging Prince Eric to assume that this 16 year-old mute girl is just begging for him to go at her.  He’s like the proverbial devil on the shoulder.

Here’s the song:

Now allow me to illustrate how Sebastian’s advice can look like (click to enlarge):

Perhaps it is best to not listen to talking crabs :).

Police Shootings, Emotional Accusations, and the Standard of Beyond Reasonable Doubt

Recently, former police officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted of manslaughter after he shot and killed Philando Castille on a routine traffic stop.  Castille was armed, but reportedly told Yanez that he was licensed to carry.  Yanez still ended up shooting him when he believed that Castille reached for his gun as opposed to his wallet.  It was yet another high profile shooting of a black man by police (though this time by a Hispanic and not white officer), and once again the public (particularly the black community) was outraged when the officer was acquitted of all charges.  Cries of racism, systemic racism, and injustice filled social media again.

Much of this reaction is understandable.  While critics might argue, somewhat correctly, that the way the media chooses to cover these events gives off the impression that cops just go around shooting black people for no reason when that statistically isn’t supported, it’s still disturbing how some of these incidents go down.  Certainly, the Castille shooting looks very fishy at first glance, and nobody wants to see such stories whether they are rare or not.  Nonetheless, people need to be better at calmly and rationally evaluating these incidents without jumping to emotional conclusions, and they need to ask themselves this simple question: Was there enough evidence to criminally convict?  If not, no matter how we feel, an acquittal is the right decision for the jury to make.  Pointing this out is not racist, insensitive, or apathetic to injustice; it’s simply an acknowledgement of the facts as well as the limitations of our human courts.

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Wonder Woman Review: DC Has a Hit

The DCEU has made a ton of money, but the critical reviews have not been kind.  While some of the criticisms struck me as illegitimate, as I noted in my BvS review, a lot of them were spot on.  Suicide Squad was straight garbage, while Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman both had some great moments surrounded by lackluster writing and pacing.  However, with Wonder Woman drawing rave reviews and outperforming box office expectations, it’s possible DC might be finding its footing in its future battles against Marvel.

And Wonder Woman deserves it.  It’s an entertaining origins story with humor, grit, and likeable characters, and Gal Gadot hits it out of the park with her portrayal of the titular character.  Gadot was the breakout star in BvS, and her own movie did nothing to take away from that.

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