Monday, April 09, 2007

Ironies in the Morning

Don Imus, who I seldom listen to anymore but have greatly liked in the past, has gotten himself in serious trouble with what have been called racist remarks. If you don't listen to the show, they seem so outrageous that you can hardly imagine how a person could say them, even for shock value. But for people familiar with the style, Imus and his cohosts frequently make fun of prejudice by giving voice to it. He is very likely to say things like this laughingly, "Congressman, I'm not sure if you really believe this or are just trying to pick up the warmongering cousin-marrying vote in your beautiful home state of Georgia." He is likely to give voice to what some bigot somewhere is thinking in mockery. You could take a comment out of just about any of his shows out of context and portray him as a bigot. He likes to play off the "let's outrage the PC crowd" humor.

For those who get this, the recent statements would have produced a wince and an "okay, that's too outrageous," but would never think for a moment that this was his actual opinion. The people attacking him either don't know this, or know but find it convenient for their own self-importance to jump on him anyway.

The irony of course is that this is the first I have heard of a women's basketball team at Rutgers. On reflection, of course they'd have one. I didn't know they were any good. And this is the most press that women's basketball has gotten in the last month, despite the fact that they've just had their championship. He's done Rutgers women's basketball their biggest favor in a decade.


terri said...

I have to disagree. I guess you will have to label me as self-important.I don't listen to Imus, so I have no context for the remarks.

However, as a woman, I don't see any value to the word "ho." "Nappy headed" also does not bring to mind flowing locks of blonde, red or brunette "white" hair.

I seem to recall your post about Kerry and his "getting stuck in Iraq" comments as implying that people tend to say the things they really mean, albeit inadvertently.

Should these comments not be held to that same line of thought?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

A fair point.

I don't think that Imus was leaking out his real feelings about the women involved, but he was letting his need to be baddest and most outrageous leak out. Pretty childish.

Just to be clear, the "self-importance" comment was supposed to be directed to "those who are making a big public issue about this," not just anyone who was offended. But I didn't write that very clearly.

terri said...

AVI..I had some more thoughts about this subject that I posted at my own blog. I have a link to you and your post on the subject.

I mention it only so I don't have to feel like I am "talking" behind your back about it.

Anonymous said...

The general feeling at my workplace was that the I-Man has said much worse and not raised anywhere near the reaction this caused.

I think I stopped listening to him when the Concord station that carries it went country. Too shocking to the system to get out of work and have C&W blasting out of my speakers.

cakreiz said...

I used to listen to Imus myself. As time wore on, I got bored with him. My theory is that Imus' demise came, in part, because of his mixed format: a relatively serious national news program with a shock-jock component. Given this backdrop, what would otherwise be a mundane shock-jock slur became more shocking. Imus at once sought legitimacy and anarchy, and it finally caught up to him. As long as he targeted public figures, he got away with much. That changed last week.

You're right about his anti-pc, faux bigotry stance. Further, he's a complicated guy. He was often mean-spirited and ungenerous, but in the next breath, could be very giving. At the day's end, he lived by a sword and he died by it. I don't see him as a victim- other than, perhaps, of his own hubris.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

In the mounds of writings that I have seen on the subject this week, cakreiz, that is the wisest I have seen.