April 11, 2007
I didn’t want to write anything about Don Imus’s bowels-to-mouth problem because I’m sick of the Pavlovian playground games set up by talk radio shock jocks: they say something outrageous, people protest, fans defend shock jock as equal-opportunity offender, ratings register the increased attention.
Yes, I broke my rule recently by writing about the anti-Latino hatenanny staged by Carton and Rossi on New Jersey WhineOhWhinePointJive, but mainly because I think it reflected a larger derangement within the Republican Party and the movement laughingly referred to as conservatism.
But the Imus situation doesn’t reflect anything more significant than the need of a hateful old white guy to fill a few minutes of air time with cheap yucks, and his decision to do so by smearing crap on the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. After watching this press conference by the players and their coach, I decided to toss in my two cents because entirely too many Big Time Media types have been going to bat for Imus, and because what he said was so pointlessly nasty and wounding.
I don’t care if Don Imus thinks he’s still a decent guy. I go with what the basketball players want. If they say they want him off the air, fine by me. If they can live with an apology, then I can live with it, too. If they say they want him impaled and mounted on the Pulaski Skyway, I say let’s sharpen up a stick. They worked hard, played harder and came within reach of the big brass ring, and instead of getting to bask in their accomplishment they’ve had to listen to guff from a prune-faced radio clown in a silly hat, and then listen to the guff from his fans.
There are people who tell me Imus is often very interesting and insightful, and that under the creepy I-Man persona there beats the heart of one of talk radio’s last real intellectuals. All I can say is, there must be a secret e-mail network that alerts people so they can listen to these moments of lucidity and wit. Whenever I’ve listened to the guy, he always comes across like an incontinent old dog farting up the living room. Maybe he does leave stains on both the left and the right sides of the carpet — so what? Old Yeller had a good long run, too, but even he finally had to be put to sleep when he couldn’t be trusted to behave right in public.
I can’t believe some of the half-smart arguments I’ve been hearing: the women shouldn’t be offended because rappers talk about black womenthat way all the time; the women shouldn’t be offended because they really are tough looking; the women should just laugh it off and be happy for the publicity.
Will everybody please get a grip? Those women weren’t politicians out trolling for votes or criminals wide open for scorn. They were athletes who played a damned good season of basketball. But to Don Imus they wre nothing more than caricatures to be used for coon-show jokes.
I would love to wake up one morning and discover that all talk radio shock jocks had suffered a mass crisis of conscience, quit their jobs and gone off to find honest employment at worthwhile jobs — leaving behind nothing but dead air, which would certainly be an improvement over what they’re filling it with now.