Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Imus again. I'm sorry, but it's a " developing story. " So my opinions are developing, too. I saw Imus being interviewed by Matt Lauer this morning. He keeps making the point, " Ours is a comedy show. "

I first started listening to Imus when I was in the advertising business in Hartford. He and Howard Stern were the " Shock Jocks " on WNBC. I loved their irreverance and it inspired me to write ad copy with that kind of edge. One 30 second radio spot I wrote and produced wasn't run on the radio station on which we had bought time. It was pulled and the radio station executives had a meeting to discuss its " appropriateness. " I can't recall the details of the spot, but I do recall that it had some biblical chararacters making some remarks you wouldn't find in the bible. It was a " humorous " spot.

The spot eventually ran and it probably offended some listeners.

I wrote a lot of ad copy in the nine years I was in the business. My forte was humor. I'd do almost anything to get a laugh. If someone was offended, I'd think: Oh c'mon. It's humor! That was twenty years ago. Before the dawn of the Age of Irony.

David Letterman is the God of Irony. If you take anything he says seriously, you " Just don't get it. " Offended? Grow up. You're taking this way too seriously. When Imus says, " It's a comedy show, " he's using that kind of defense.

But is it a comedy show? Sure he has Bernard and the Cardinal, Rob Bartlett's cast of characters. But the real stars of the show, for many of us listeners, are politicians, historians, journalists. People who are as funny as a heart attack.

It's convenient now for Imus to wrap himself in the banner of comedy. Before the Rutgers things broke, would Imus have characterized his program as a " comedy show? " Or a variety show with some humor and much serious discussion about children with cancer and autism, the war in Iraq, global warming, mercury poisoning, etc. etc.

Imus begins his suspension next Monday. MSNBC and CBS, by doing this, are doing two things with which I strongly disagree.

It's robbing the market, i.e., we listeners of the chance to vote with our fingers. We can't choose not to listen to something which isn't on the air. We can't turn that dial.

And it's giving people like Frank Rich, John McCain, Jeff Greenfield, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Chris Matthews, Tim Russert - the usual suspects, the regular guests, a pass. They won't have to decide whether or not to go on a show that's not on for two weeks.

That said. I just watched the press conference at which Vivien Stringer and the Rutgers team members spoke. I hope Imus watched that. As I did, I could not imagine how I would be feeling if I had said what he said about these women. The I Man must feel awful about this. Will he change his ways?

If he does it's over for him. His dark side is the side that's kept him going for decades. Without that dangerous edge, Imus in the Morning is going to become Imus's worse nightmare:

Another Today Show. All happy talk all of the time.


jane carlin said...

I have another view emerging about Imus and the possibility for an even better program--one which reflects his growth and "maturity", and keeps us all asking the difficult questions about race and gender and war and peace, rich and poor...
He does his two week suspension. The "team" regroups--THEY ask themselves the hard questions, and they arrive at answers about the show and its next direction--do they need to demean people to get laughs? Aren't there enough tragic things going on that will prompt us to reflect and reason and talk to each other?
Will there be some women finally allowed as equal partners on the program, some African Amercian members finally allowed to sit at the counter with Imus and Charles and Bernard and Lou? Bernard can still be funny, they all can.
This is an opportunity to strengthen the level of discourse about everything.
I am hoping that the Rutgers experience will truly be Imus's Come to Jesus, and he will be a better person for it. He may not. If so, we all lose, or someone else will have to take up the discourse.

Terrence said...

Thanks, Jane for the comment. Ya know what I wish? I wish Lenny Bruce were still around. I'd love to hear what his take on all this is.

Terrance Collins said...

I couldn't care less what Lenny Bruce's opinion on this situation would be. He's dead and buried and would be passe if alive. Why do you? It's too bad you stopped watching the show, I was in fact surprised this morning that it was on and the suspension didn't start until Monday, but you missed a good segment with Bill Mahre. Someone I don't always agree with, as you can imagine, but we find common ground at times. He had some good observations. Howard Stern's comment was the best-shoulda said "Fuck you, it was a joke". As an aside I liked the comment earlier about little Wyatt Imus' "weight problem". Now that was one thing of Imus' that always irked me..really vicious comments about "people of size" (is that a pretty good way of putting it now?)Then whenever I saw clips of that clearly obnoxious "Little Prince" I'd say "wait a minute, what's up with this porker?" Don't the parents see this and where are those comments? The child obviously rubs moi the wrong way....carry on.

jane c. said...

Ditto about Lenny...

Terrance Collins said...

Oh and one more thing....Imus' obssive man crush on Harold Ford Jr...where is the support from him that Imus effusively delivered during his recent campaign? If my friend was undergoing such an assault I'd have shown up on Sharpton's show with him- to run interference as it were. Imus kept saying Ford lost because Tennessee was a racist state and the whites there wouldn't vote for a black (of course no remark about the blacks who wouldn't vote for a white)...makes one wonder if being hoist on one's own petard or patootie or whatever, is appropriate response...oh the humanity....

Terrence said...

This is a good debate. With good people involved. Jane C. and Terrance C are two of the best people I've known. We don't always agree, but their opinions are priceless. What good comes from something like this? People talk. Good people talk. It's not a bad thing.