I Paid for One Movie and Snuck into Another. Did I Do Wrong?
The MONEY ethicists weigh in.
(MONEY Magazine) - QUESTION: I wanted to see Steven Spielberg's movie Munich, but my wife didn't want me to go. She believes a director who tries to be as fair to terrorists as to the people who hunt them down is morally bankrupt. Since her actual words were "I don't want him getting a dime from us," I went to the multiplex, bought a ticket for King Kong, and went to see Munich instead. My wife found this an acceptable compromise, the theater got their 10 bucks, and I thought all was well. But friends say I did something wrong. Did I?
ANSWER You snuck into a movie, and now you're wondering if you did something wrong? Come on. You must know that whenever you find yourself sneaking around or concealing something, it's pretty unlikely the road you're traveling is headed for the moral high ground.
You're on perfectly solid footing to boycott a product or person you disapprove of. But your disapproval doesn't let you off the hook ethically. Even if you believe Munich to be morally flawed, that doesn't justify taking what doesn't belong to you, namely the right to sit in a movie theater and watch it. To be sure, the multiplex came out even, but Mr. Spielberg didn't. He was cheated out of a royalty.
While a few bucks from you isn't going to make or break him, stealing is stealing, no matter how much money is involved. Our advice: Next time you want to see a Spielberg movie but don't want to pay him directly for the privilege, wait until a friend rents it and invites you over to watch.
Questions about money and ethics? Our ethicists are
consultants who advise attorneys on people's ethical beliefs. E-mail them at