Pearls & Vodka

Danny Masterson fired: where do we draw the line?

Danny Masterson was fired today from the Netflix comedy “The Ranch” amid rape allegations made against him.

Sound familiar?

Our society has become inundated with continual firings and removals of celebrities from their roles in the entertainment industry.

Last week it was Matt Lauer being removed from “The Today Show” and today finds Danny Masterson, unemployed.

Many of you have likely not seen “The Ranch,” it is certainly not a hit television show, and is not even on mainstream cable. We’ve actually watched quite a few episodes at our house and because of that fact, I feel like I can add a little commentary to the situation.

Danny Masterson’s character goes by the nickname, “Rooster.” He is the older brother of the town football hero who went away to play college ball and came back, washed up. Rooster stayed behind and worked on the family ranch with his Dad, who is a hard-nosed, salt of the Earth kind of character. Much of the show revolves around ranching, drinking, hanging out at the bar their mom owns and talking about sexual matters.

Masterson said today in a statement released by his publicist, “From day one, I have denied the outrageous allegations against me. Law enforcement investigated these claims more than 15 years ago and determined them to be without merit,” Masterson continued in his statement. “I have never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one. In this country, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, in the current climate, it seems as if you are presumed guilty the moment you are accused.” [1]

Danny Masterson costarred with Ashton Kutcher on “That 70s Show” and their comradery led to their working together again on “The Ranch.”

Netflix has released that of their original streaming shows, “The Ranch” comes in at number 8 with 5.8 million viewers. “House of Cards” is in 6th place, a show that has also been dealing with the fallout of allegations against star Kevin Spacey. [2]

Like I mentioned earlier, many of you are probably not viewers of “The Ranch,” so why bring this up?

I feel like the allegations against Danny Masterson and his now former role on “The Ranch” are a small part of a larger conversation that needs to take place in our country.

You may have heard the old adage, “Sex sells.” That’s not a popular thing to say in our climate today, but it is a reality.

The first time sexual imagery was used in advertising dates back to 1885 when W.Duke and Sons, a manufacturer of facial soaps, included trading cards with erotic images in their soap’s packaging. [3] And for 132 years since that day advertisers have been using sex to sell their products, their shows, and their brands. While activism has taken a new role in our society, it appears we have the stereotypical battle of, good vs. evil. Activism vs. sex.

The reality for Danny Masterson is that he will be fine financially I’m sure. But as of today, he is no longer employed by Netflix. He has been accused of raping several women dating back to the early 2000s. He has not been convicted, and as he pointed out, that use to matter. Unfortunately, in today’s culture “innocent until proven guilty” has no role. And that is a travesty built by our own cultural indulgence. But the other reality for Danny Masterson is, 5.8 million viewers use to tune into “The Ranch” and by doing so, supported his career that was being made by depicting sexually charged actions and words. His character, and others, have scripts full of one-liners that make some giggle and make others scream “sexual harassment.”

So where do we draw the line as a society?

Sure, acting is simply that, acting.

But are we not perpetuating a society that creates an environment where what one calls sexual harassment, another calls humor?

Are we not creating an environment that tells young boys it’s ok to make those jokes about sex or a woman’s appearance because being funny can increase your popularity?

Are we not teaching young girls that it’s ok for young boys to make those lewd comments to them because they are just being “funny?”

The reality is we are creating a world that desensitizes us from right and wrong.

This may not be a popular subject to bring up, but heck, this entire blog is probably not conveying a popular thought process, so why not…

Rap music.

Not going to lie, there are some rappers that I enjoy. Kanye, Dr. Dre, Biggie, Tupac, JayZ, Eminem, Chance the Rapper, Drake…I could keep going but you get the point.

Often times I find myself turning the radio because of the use of the “N” word in rap music. I don’t use that word. It is not allowed in my house. But their usage of it in popular songs has created an society that says “it’s ok to use it in raps.” Well rapping spills out into the streets, and into the halls of schools all over our country.

Are we not then telling young people, it’s ok to use that derogatory term when rapping?

If you give a kid an inch, they will take it a mile. Telling a teenager, it’s ok to use foul language, whether it’s hate rhetoric like the “N” word or cursing in rap, is instantly telling a teenager it’s ok to use those words in their everyday life.

And that’s not ok.

Rap songs, and other music, talks about killing. It plants that seed. It talks about sex, it plants that seed. It has content about drugs, it plants that seed.

And yet kids today see these rappers living large, more money than sense, more cars than a dealership, houses bigger than their neighborhoods.

Our culture is telling the next generation that these things are ok.

And yet we suddenly want to call, “FOUL!” And “clean up” an industry that we have all supported in one way or another, our entire lives.

And it’s not just rap music, so don’t get on the “I only listen to country” soapbox.

Country singers sing about one night stands just as much as rappers. The whole “love ‘em and leave ‘em” mantra has made country music what it is today.

I am not writing about all of this today to defend Danny Masterson or to hate on the entertainment industry. I’m simply trying to start a conversation that I think we really need to have in this country.

The hoopla in the political world this week, amongst other things, has been Donald Trump’s endorsement of Alabama Senate candidate, Judge Roy Moore.

I was approached, by message, about my disdain for an article written by a professor at my alma mater that was published here on The Federalist. I signed a letter that is circulating for the President of Ouachita Baptist University, Dr. Ben Sells, to take action in regard to Dr. Tully Borland, a philosophy professor at OBU. I signed this letter because I do not agree with Dr. Tully Borland representing the university I know and love. I don’t believe his opinions on his blog that were published on The Federalist adhere to the moral code that is signed by students and faculty both at OBU. I believe that Dr. Borland’s commentary shines a negative light on a university whose mission is to be a Christ-centered learning community. While I do believe Christ is in the business of forgiving, Dr. Borland’s assertions have nothing to do with forgiveness or repentance on Roy Moore’s part. Basically Dr. Borland believes that though he would not want anyone doing the things Roy Moore has been accused of to his own child, he does not believe it is wrong to vote for Moore. I believe that Dr. Borland’s opinion basically says to the world that as long as Roy Moore’s actions don’t affect him, or his daughter, he doesn’t care. His entire point is that because Roy Moore is a Republican it’s a better vote than Doug Jones because he is a Democrat who is OK with abortion and that is the greater evil. Basically, Borland says if Roy Moore should step aside, so should Doug Jones. Dr. Borland is making a character judgement on two men, I presume, he does not know. He concludes by saying, “Politics is never pure.”

And you know what, that is one thing he and I can agree about.

I had many wonderful professors at OBU. And not one of them could I imagine publishing the type of commentary that Tully Borland wrote. And I’m disappointed in the University’s leadership who has not seen fit to remove him from his position. My alumni donations are small, I get that, but they are stopped until the time in which Tully Borland is no longer employed at OBU.

Some of you may think that is a hard line to tow for someone who voted for Donald Trump.

And I can see where you are coming from.

And maybe my voting practice of “the lessor of two evils” is wrong and leads to situations like this.

Words and actions are different.

I don’t believe Roy Moore’s candidacy should be supported because of his actions.

And, I’m not saying I entirely agree with the vote I made back in November of last year. But alas, here I am, learning and growing.

But is my opinion, part of what is building this climate in our society?

I believe that words and actions are different, and reap different consequences.

But back to my analogy on rap music, those words are setting seeds in those listeners who then may commit those actions. Danny Masterson was employed in a role that was centered around using sex as a joke and now he’s been fired, because allegedly he put those words, those jokes, into action.

It goes beyond sexual harassment and assault.

Recently, Chelsea Handler went on a lewd tirade calling White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders a “harlot” and a “trollop,” which if you are like me and have no idea what that is, it’s a prostitute. She insults Sanders’ makeup, appearance and wardrobe. This is the same Chelsea Handler that wrote a book about her one night stands. And this is also the woman who said last year, “Even if I come across women that I don’t necessarily like or have that much in common with, I think it’s more important to set the example of support rather than getting in your car and bitching about somebody, or turning to another girl and making fun of someone,” she says. “Like, that’s not cool anymore, you know? High school ends for a reason.” [4]

I guess high school is still in session for Ms. Handler.

We teach bullying to the next generation when we follow and laugh and watch “entertainers” like Chelsea Handler.

This blog maybe scattered. It’s something I’m working through internally, but I think it’s a conversation that needs to be had on a larger scale.

So where do you stand on the issue?

What are you teaching your children?

Where do we draw the line as a society?

Is our culture beyond repair?

Let’s start a conversation. Let’s be open and honest with our thoughts. Let’s be respectful of others and their opinions. Let’s gracefully walk this road together, and seek out the best legacy to leave behind for our children.

So, readers, what say ye?

Photo by Chaz McGregor on Unsplash