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Without any doubts, television is the most widely used media to gain information. But despite the significant role played by the compelling electronic, some television shows has brought up some ethical concerns more especially those in the entertainment field. This paper reveals the dirty traits individuals possess to remain in power and the manipulation of the journalistic integrity. At the expense of other people, some individuals engage in all sort of actions which are morally inappropriate.
One such television show that has grabbed a spot in Netflix is the “House of Cards.” Season one, episode one of this TV show brings the political world into the stage and captures the viewers’ imaginations into a real-life situation. In season one, House of Cards, episode one, the primary character in the film is Francis Underwood who brings to the spotlight the issue of politics, race and gender, corruption, and integrity in journalism (House of Cards and Philosophy Journal, 1-2). Frank Underwood is a morally bad person who challenges the moral realism of the show. In fact, the TV show depicts him as a manipulative and murderous person.
In season one, episode one of this TV show, Congressman Frank Underwood helps in campaigning for the president who promises him an executive position as soon as he ascends to power. But unfortunately, the situation fails to unfold as planned and we see Mr. Underwood falling a victim of betrayal, failing to receive the Secretary of State appointment. That is when the drama begins to unfold with ruthless themes as “Underwood tries to use his influential position to revenge against those who made him fail to attain the power with the help of his wife, Claire Underwood, and a political reporter Zoe Barnes.”
Other characters in the series with the leading roles in season one, episode one are an ambitious young journalist identified as Zoe Barnes, Frank Underwood’s wife identified as Claire Underwood, and Peter Russo, Congressman from Pennsylvania (Green, 1). In season one, the primary aspect that comes out is the betrayal. The President, Mr. Walker, fails to honor the agreement to appoint Frank as the Secretary of State. Instead, he nominates Senator Michael Kern. That is when Frank and his wife try to seek out revenge against Walker.
The moral dilemma in House of cards season one, episode one is manipulation and murder which occurs when Underwood tries to get himself close to the president with a goal of gaining a cabinet position. The first instance of manipulation in season one, episode six occurs when Congressman Peter Russo gets arrested inside the car with a prostitute. The aspect of corruption and bribery arises in this season one as Frank offers to help Peter Russo cover the incident by bribing the police for exchanging his loyalty.
Another instance of manipulation occurs in season one, episode one when Underwood begins a symbiotic relationship with a young political journalist, Zoe Barnes, into helping him undermine the President’s pick for Secretary of state (Green, 3). Congressman Underwood says, “Everything is about sex, except sex which is about power.” He feeds false stories to the reporter against Mr. Walker to trigger his downfall, and he does this due to his lust for power. In my observation, a journalist should exercise proper virtue ethics and should not allow any manipulative means to cross their line of duty.
The theory that applies to the House of cards season one is utilitarianism which is a normative ethical theory that focuses on how the action of one individual results in the consequences that affect the whole society (Smith 453-463). Smith further suggests that we can apply the principle of utility in House of cards to particular actions by Underwood such as his manipulative means to get back or the general rule which includes how his influence impacts the society directly.
According to the principle of utilitarianism, the right act is the one which brings about the best results (Ladd 467-496).This policy can be used to determine the validity of rules of conduct or the moral principles in ‘House of Cards.’Thus, the right and wrong actions get defined as following or breaking those rules. For instance, Underwood saw it appropriate to generate “unjust rules” for an overall achievement of cultivated happiness at the expense of mistreating some individuals. “He manipulates Peter Russo into helping him undermine Walker’s pick for Secretary of State.” Russo already knew his fate, and while Underwood drives him home, he asks him, “When has your help ever helped me?” When Russo tries to come out clean about his relationship with Underwood’s schemes, Underwood kills him and alleges suicide as the cause of his death. It was his plan all along, to create a vacancy in a political office such that he will influence Walker to nominate him as the Vice President.
Another aspect of the Utilitarian theory occurs in House of Cards, season one, episode one when a young reporter, Zoe, continues investigating Underwood’s scheme. As a protective measure, Underwood lures Zoe to a secure Metro station with no eyewitnesses or security camerasand pushes her to an oncoming train. Frank breaks the rules at the expense of taking individual’s life for the achievement of his overall happiness. After Zoe’s death, the entire team that was conducting the investigation abandons the mission, and that leaves Frank privileged to continue with his manipulation scheme.
Another incredible theory that we can get from the ‘House of Cards’season one, episode four is the element of feminist ethics. Aristotle states that males are by nature superior and women inferior. Rousseau also says that women do wrong to complain of the inequality of human-made laws (Fieser and Stumpf 274-278). This is not surprising news in the House of Cards. Women in this show have suffered significantly from threats, limitations, rape, discrimination, diminished autonomy, and even death. For instance, Frank Underwood’s rise to influential roles occurs as a result of such exploitation. He exploits women, kill strangers so that his family can survive and also prosper in life.
In the ‘House of Cards’ TV series, season one depicts Frank’s wife, Claire, as a co-conspirator in advancing her husband’s scheme. Apparently, Claire brings the aspect of feminist ethics through the terrible things she does to other female characters. In the TV show, Claire illegally cancels the health insurance of a former employee with an objective of denying her medicine for her fetus needs. She does so to leverage the woman in making her wrongful-termination lawsuit go away. In another instance, Claire knows that her husband is sleeping with a 22-year-old journalist with an intention to persuade her to drop the investigation. Claire is okay with her husband’s plan to destroy the young reporter, and he finally murders her, a condition in which Claire could have prevented to protect a fellow woman.
Another significant instance of feminist ethics occurs when Claire pretends to befriend the first lady and tells her that she is having an affair with the president to facilitate her husband’s downfall as president.According to the feminist ethics, Claire’s behavior suggests that what motivates her actions is power seeking (Held 68). Seemingly, Claire seeks to advance her husband’s political career at all cost including her willingness to lie, destroy lives, destroy careers, destroy the life of a woman’s fetus, drive people to suicide, and avoid supporting women who her husband plans to kill to maintain his lust for power.
Underwood’s wife also seems to lack heart after all. She fires half her staff from her environmental organization. Furthermore, Claire schemes her husband’sDelaware River bill for her selfish gain. At the end of season one, Claire gets sued for wrongful termination by a former employee. That forces her to visit a doctor to investigate possible fertility treatment.
As evidenced in House of Cards TV show, season one, episode 1 – 13, human beings have limitless ambition in politics. Frank Underwood is a morallylousy person who manipulates and murders other people for selfish interest. The actions hecommits are ethically wrong. On the other hand, according to the feminist perspective, Claire is an ethically bad character because she also makes ethically wrong decisions from keeping quest over sexual allegations to organizing the environment bill’s failure.
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