Saturday, April 14, 2007

Tearing Apart the Corpse

Last week I had the unfortunate experience of being saddled with some sort of stomach flu or virus. It "ran" its course in 24 hours but I was forced to stay at home for one day from work.

I decided that I should ingest along with my saltines, a bit of the cable news network programming for the day.

During this time the Don Imus flap was in full (what I call) bongs bells and buzzers mode. Anyone who watches any of the cable stations knows what I am talking about. All of the networks have a catchy bong, bell, or buzzer to announce "Breaking" news. Even if the news isn't breaking, rather has already "broken".

I made a decision to follow this Imus thing from the beginning all the way to the bitter end, then to summarize some thoughts.

My history with Imus isn't long nor deep. He has never been on the radio in any of the markets I have ever lived in (basically Rockford, IL, Champaign, IL, and Madison, WI). The only time I ever saw him was typically when I had a day off and was surfing the news channels (he was simulcast on MSNBC) or was on a business trip to a market where he was featured. My thoughts were that he was crusty. That is the best word to describe him. Certainly nothing that interested me enough to seek out his programming on Tivo or anything.

I had no idea when this whole thing went down last week that he had been in radio for so long. I also had no idea he did so much charity work.

Not having a long history of listening to the Imus show like 99% of the other people chiming in on the affair I really can't give him a fair shake here. I highly doubt he is a real racist. Most of the people that have contact with him that I have seen say that his charity camps are full of children of all colors. If he was a true racist, I think he would have slipped on something long before now - he has been in the business for many decades.

Don Imus will have a new job whenever he wants one. People are forgiving. Many people have done much worse and have come out smelling like a rose. I won't name names but you can think of some folks I am sure.

Many in the media are saying how impressed they were by the Rutgers basketball team that Imus insulted with his comments. I will say the exact opposite. These women are going to face much more harsh challenges as their careers develop than some crusty guy on a radio show one day going for a cheap joke because of the way they look. Was what he said right or condoned by me? No. Did the team have to react that way? I don't think so. How refreshing it would have been for one of the women on the team instead of acting like a defeated, cowering individual to step up and say something like:

I don't give a damn what some old coot in New York says about me, my coach, my team or anything else. We worked our butts off on the court and in the classroom. If the best Mr. Imus can do is crack a joke about our looks, perhaps his audience may take a look at his sponsors and decide if they need patronizing. Perhaps the people who listen to his show should consider new or alternate forms of entertainment.

And what about the white girls on the team? I didn't really hear anything from them. Were they offended too?

Instead we got "we were hurt, very hurt" and quotes of that ilk from all of the players and a very emotional speech from the coach. Boo hoo. I get called names every day of my life (practically) and have been slurred racially with terms like kraut, cracker and even hebe (although I am not Jewish). No apologies needed for me, I just soldier on like most of us do. I am thick skinned like that. If I see something I hate (i.e. Sony employing a child molester like Roman Polanski) I simply do not buy their products, disassociate with those people or turn the channel.

Then again, the young players on Rutgers could have been manipulated by the media and had many of their videos edited, and words clipped. It is for certain that they are not used to having any type of media around them at pretty much any time. It is women's basketball, after all. I don't mean to say that as being sexist, but facts are facts. Revenue streams and media attention in men's vs. women's sports is most certainly another post altogether.

As the scandal reached fever pitch, Imus thought he could save his skin by going on Al Sharpton's show and apologizing. I bet he wouldn't have bowed to Al if he knew he was still going to get fired.

Of course there is the hypocrisy angle as well. It is literally unbelievable that a company like NBC or CBS fires Imus for what he did with a straight face, while every single day their subsidiaries in the forms of record labels, video companies and others support and play insane rap lyrics. Then again, there is no pressure on the companies to stop the production of this mindless crap. I suppose if Sharpton, Jackson and the rest decide to one day actually care about that stuff that something might happen. Until then...

The most embarrassing thing while laying in my bed watching this whole ugly spectacle unfold was the willingness and speed the press stomped all over the carcass of Don Imus with little to no background, context or anything else. Same as usual. Yes, he said it. But enough to get fired? Man, there aren't going to be too many DJ's around except on satellite radio.

In looking back on the whole sorry debacle, I don't think Imus should have lost his job due to political pressure. I would have loved to see the free market work properly and I think that the Sharptons of the world have every right if they feel offended to boycott those sponsors. I would love to see a protest at Anheuser Busch over the latest Jay Z marketing campaign - they are one of Jay Z's largest sponsors and his lyrics have, of course, demeaned women for years and years. I am not holding my breath.

Imus would have naturally lost his job if all of his big sponsors started to leave. Instead it became a three or four day media BLAST and the sponsors started dropping even before one protest was made at the HQ of Proctor and Gamble, American Express or any of the other sponsors that Imus had.

*Due to comment trolls (DAMN Google works fast) I am closing comments to this post.


Snakeye said...

You're right. I'm not an Imus dude either, but I think there's a little more to it than what the media explains.
I also hate it when Al and Jesse start jumping all over something and take a stand. Call me ignorant, but it almost seems like those dudes make a situation out of shit that shouldn't be a situation. Instead of searching for all the bad things that others may impose on them, I think they really need to focus internally on what they are doing to themselves. I realize that's very general; because like everything, nothing ever follows a stereotype 100%...
But let's take a look at the inner-city culture (much of what modern day rap portrays): women are objects, it's cool to get shot and shoot at other people, money is the greatest thing you can have in life (not too mention showing it off is how you prove it), and it's cool in general to treat people you don't know with disrespect (Pam says not one kid in her school ever says "please," "I'm sorry," or "thank you"). Anyway, you get my idea.

Snakeye said...

Of course, my rant above has nothing to do with the Imus thing or the Rutger's ladies team... I guess it's more a rant of Mr. Sharpton and Mr. Jackson actively searching out stuff that they can get media attention over.

Dan from Madison said...

Snake you are right, the hypocrisy during the whole debacle is probably the worst part of the whole thing.