Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Imus In The Mourning

I stopped listening to Imus a while back. It just became egregiously difficult to listen to the crew of idiots he surrounded himself with in order to take some of the heat off himself in the creative process. People like Bernard McGuirk and Sid Rosenberg (cousin of Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota) were atrocious, unfunny and frankly, pretty sad, clearly there only because they'd be dumb enough to give voice to straw men that Imus, as an "opinion maker," was too scared to say himself any longer. And then, they'd piss him off by taking things too far.

Comes last week's debacle. I'm sure you've at least heard something about it, but let me copy over a transcript from Media Matters (video available there, as well):
From the April 4 edition of MSNBC's Imus in the Morning:

IMUS: So, I watched the basketball game last night between -- a little bit of Rutgers and Tennessee, the women's final.

ROSENBERG: Yeah, Tennessee won last night -- seventh championship for [Tennessee coach] Pat Summitt, I-Man. They beat Rutgers by 13 points.

IMUS: That's some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos and --

McGUIRK: Some hard-core hos.

IMUS: That's some nappy-headed hos there. I'm gonna tell you that now, man, that's some -- woo. And the girls from Tennessee, they all look cute, you know, so, like -- kinda like -- I don't know.
There's more, a misreference to a Spike Lee reference (give them credit, they've at least watched one black man's films), but you get the drift.

Imus has made his career out of being outrageous, and I'm fortunate, yes, fortunate, to have been able to listen to him from way back in the early 70s. From his "1200 Hamburgers To Go" days, through his "Dr. Billy Sol Hargis" bits, right up until he started hammering Bill Clinton for having sex in the White House.

I think that's when I stopped listening to him, realizing he had sold out his comedic roots and was starting to shill for his best friends, the Republican National Committee.

Too, he started "featuring" guests like Laura Ingraham, Joe Tacopina, Ann Coulter, Joe Lieberman, John McCain, and Bush The Elder, and while I have no problem listening to the responsible views of the opposition, there was more than a hint of the bile and hatred that conservatives feel for the likes of me in those "guests" (well, maybe not Bush).

But here's the thing: he was, and at times still is, funny because he is who he is. In many ways, his comedy and persona informs this blog and my outlook on life. "You don't like me? Fuck it. There are 6 billion other people on this planet, and I don't need you to like me. I have to like me."

Was this joke offensive? Yes. Was this joke funny? No. And having done live radio, my suspicion is that this ended up being a riff that blew up in anyone's face before cooler heads could prevail. We saw into Imus' heart, and there's a dark spot on it.

Having listened to him all these years, I don't think he hates minorities, but on the other hand, I don't think he's the poster boy for National Brotherhood Week, either. I think he just hates most people, flat out, and any time he can find some way to mock them, he will and he's not particularly kind about it.

His "humour" is not limited to minorities: he's made fun of public figures all his career, white, black, woman, man, and if Rutgers hadn't been a black team, I'm sure his cracks would have been about their possible sexual orientation. He's done those kind of jokes before about women's tennis, without this kind of outrage (not that this outrage is unjustified, but I find it curious that suddenly this is the focus of the anger).

Too, the fact that Al "Steven Pagones raped Tawana Brawley" Sharpton and Jesse "Hymietown" Jackson are mixing it up with Imus makes this outrage nearly defensible: if comedians ought to be responsible for their public statements, then certainly people with aspirations to be public servants ought to be doubly so.

From the appearances I've seen, his two hours of being Al Sharpton's punching bag, his many appearances on network news, and his own MSNBC show, Imus looked genuinely confused, and I suspect that he's had an epiphany about himself. His apologies seem genuine, and if he learns something from this incident that's more than papered-over humility, then so be it. It's up to Jesus to forgive him, and maybe so should we. After all, "Thy will be done"...

He's handled tougher truths about himself, as I can attest.

Imus will serve a two week suspension, which I think is an appropriate, if light, punishment (personally, I would have made it thirty days and he should have to shave off that ridiculous mop he calls hair as a reminder of his commenting on other peoples' appearance).

Ironically, this suspension is postponed until Monday morning because Imus is headlining a radiothon fund-raiser at his home station, WFAN in New York, for Tomorrows Children's Fund, the CJ Foundation for SIDS and the Imus Ranch.

None of which specify "whites only". Only sick kids.