In other news, anyone have any thoughts on this whole Don Imus debacle?
For a brief refresher, Don Imus, nemesis of Howard Stern, cranky old skull-faced radio bastard in the 10-gallon hat, one of the first to be called a "shock jock", said on air Wednesday of last week that the Rutgers women's basketball team were "nappy-headed hos". An uproar ensued, and justifiably. Yesterday, Imus went on Al Sharpton's radio show, "Keeping it Real with Al Sharpton", to apologize and explain himself. While he was on that show, he referred to Al Sharpton and another guest as "you people". This may have been innocent, but may also have been that old semi-subtle racist expression that says more about how a particular person views people of another race than about the race that person is attempting to refer to.
I'm of two minds about this controversy. I do very much like the idea of a broadcaster having freedom to say what they want on the air, and I recognize that radio people have to talk extemporaneously, and for hours everyday, about whatever the topics of the day are. Race is a delicate subject, particularly for white people to discuss, and aspects of this controversy might lead one to believe that for people in the public eye, one poorly-phrased statement can change your life in a very negative, very public way. On the other hand, this is Don Imus. Imus is a dick. Even when he's not putting his foot in his mouth over racially offensive statements, he's trying to be funny by being an ass-hole. And this wasn't a poorly-phrased statement, this was calling the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos". There's not a good euphemism for that. It's just racist. And he's made racially insensitive comments in the past, like calling PBS political analyst Gwen Ifill a "cleaning lady" for example. Rush Limbaugh got fired from ESPN (or officially he resigned) for saying the media wanted to see Eagles QB Donovan McNabb do well because they wanted a black quarterback to succeed. Getting him off TV then was good and it sent a good message: racist statements are not acceptable in the mainstream of today's society.
Should Imus be fired for his comments? I don't know. The statements he made were clearly offensive and, in my humble layman's opinion, there should be consequences. If the women's basketball team, which today agreed to meet with Imus, decides to forgive Imus for what he said, maybe Imus's seemingly heartfelt apologies and the 2-week suspension NBC's already handed down might suffice. If they don't, then ultimately NBC will decide what they're willing to live with in the name of profit. I do like that Imus is getting called out for this; he's being forced to defend his statements. That doesn't always happen. Nationally-known Atlanta-based radio "personality" Neal Boortz called Cynthia McKinny a "welfare drag queen" and a "ghetto slut" shortly after her run-in with a Capitol policeman, and for his racist remarks he received not even a fraction of the condemnation Imus is getting. Though the difference here might be the targets of these racist comments: on one hand you've got the commendable Rutgers basketball players who'd recently lost the championship game, and on the other you've got Cynthia McKinny, whose missteps and impolitic behavior had made her a lot of enemies in her home state. Both Imus's and Boortz's statements are racist, clearly, but when men like Sharpton and Jackson are trying to fight their impossible war, namely to cleanse speech of racist content, they must recognize the need to pick their battles. If it's possible to be more in the wrong than Boortz was last year, then Imus has done it. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out.
In completely unrelated news, Jimmy Kimmel subbed for Larry King the other night. On his show he had Emily Gould, a editor from Gawker.com to defend a feature on their website called "Gawker Stalker" which allows people to call in to Gawker with celebrity sightings, at which time Gawker posts them after a short delay. Celebs hate this, in particular Jimmy Kimmel. Someone called to report that Kimmel looked "intoxicated" in public. Gawker ran with the piece without bothering to check first with Kimmel's publicist, and so now poor Jimmy's mad and decides to take it out on Ms. Gould on King's show. This is the clip. I never liked Jimmy Kimmel, and this clip only goes to reinforce my poor opinion of him. "I want you to think about your life," he tells her. He implies she's on her way to hell, all because she had the temerity to make Jimmy feel bad. How Bill O'Reilly-esque he is in this clip. How small. His continued success is astonishing to me.
And I know two posts in one day is unusual, so just in case you may have missed it, check out my "Grindhouse" post, located just below this one. And I'm out.