Friday, April 13, 2007

...And the "Imus Minus Award" Goes To...

...Don Imus, for his labelling of the Rutger's women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos." Ha ha, what a card! (And by "card," I mean scrotum-faced curmudgeon.)

I've never liked Imus. I found his radio show idiotic (back in the Moby Worm days) or just dull (in its more recent incarnation emphasizing his indecipherable mumblings about political affairs). I think I once endured about a minute of his MSNBC show before changing the channel, having mistakenly dismissed it as a particularly unfunny Munsters episode. (Oh, the irony of the gnarled I-Man and his gruesome gang impugning the attractiveness of any other human being...)

Do I think he should have been fired for his stupid, off-the-cuff remark? Probably not. But free speech in the street and free speech on the airwaves are different ideas. The "freedom" of his speech, as owned by corporate entities, was a privilege, not a right, despite those companies trading on his rep for outrageousness. CBS Radio and MSNBC have their rights too, as do their advertisers, shareholders, listeners, and even anyone merely catching wind of whatever Imus is spewing on-air. Also, it is one thing to call blacks nappy-headed or women hos, and quite another to call a specific group of mostly black women nappy-headed hos. The former is demeaning and tasteless, but the latter is outright defamatory. (I suppose one could call into play the many stories of Imus being personally repulsive and unabashedly racist, but I've chosen to stick to the matter as publicly broadcast.)

The issue seems closer to one of slanderous speech more than anything, and in that case Imus is clearly in the wrong. He has, however, apologized profusely and made strides to speak with anyone who cares to admonish him, for which he should be commended (even if it did damn near kill the governor of New Jersey). In light of his mea culpa and its acceptance by the Rutger's team, a suspension and perhaps some other form of atonement may have been more appropriate. Conversely, what the hell do I know.

Now I hear Tom DeLay is using this incident as grounds to gun for Rosie O'Donnell's ouster. Why is anyone even listening to this asshole anymore? When Dancing With the Stars announced last year that it was featuring Jerry Springer, DeLay urged his former constituents to vote for country singer Sara Evans (saying she stood for family values as opposed to "ultraliberal" Springer) before the show had even premiered. It sure gives you an idea of how he steered his political agenda. That Evans was then revealed to have more skeletons in her closet than Dahmer was simply too goddamn sweet.

As long as we're all out gunning, though, can we just mention the many times Bill O'Reilly has used the slur "wetbacks," or the time when he was speaking before an urban youth charity and said that he hoped a black singing group that hadn't shown up yet wasn't stealing hubcaps in the parking lot?

Jeez, when you throw rap lyrics, Jesse "Hymietown" Jackson and Al "Freddie's Fashion Mart" Sharpton into this Imus mess, the whole debate gets bogged down to where I just want to retreat into...

...pointless nostalgia! Thus, I present this Newsday TV book spotlight on Imus, Plus from July 1st, 1978.

It was a ninety-minute show (counter-programmed against Saturday Night Live) syndicated by Metromedia and seen in New York City on WNEW, channel 5. The first ep featured such hot-button topics as sex education for pre-schoolers and marriage brokering, and also had John Gabriel of Ryan's Hope discussing "what's real and unreal about soap operas" and Connecticut school teacher Mary Elizabeth Bakunin, who does everything backwards. (I hope she wasn't the one teaching those pre-schoolers. I mean, sex ed was scary enough, imagine if your teacher had started with the third input!)

Anyway, the show lasted about three months, no match for those SNL repeats. Inconsequential contribution to society, indeed... Speaking of, check out the latest exciting news at my Newsday TV listings blog!


Blogger Brian Kunath said...

Imus' biggest crime in all of this is not being funny.

Tue Apr 17, 11:24:00 AM 2007  

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