Thursday, April 12, 2007
My Mom used to get mad at me whenever I got pnemonia for using all the guest tissues
I know I am supposed to feel guilty that I haven't posted in awhile, but I don't. I am sick. I've got a runny nose, and sore throat. I cough up lemony colored snot. I am breathing underwater. And every time I swallow I get the distinct impression of diet flavored ginger ale.
I can stop drinking diet ginger ale but I can't control anything else.
Why do I suddenly feel bad for Don Imus? I have a friend who hates Don and I can't say I like him, but I often listened to him on MSNBC at 4 in the morning when there was nothing else on. A writer from Slate fleshed out why I think some found him compelling...
"As an enemy of pseudo-speaking, of the scripted and the canned, Imus made his career, among other things, by being a racially ambiguous figure. From his speech patterns, which borrow liberally from the great American religion whose deacons include Billy Sunday and Wolfman Jack and Howlin' Wolf, to his love of white blues, he played the cracker who has more in common with the Negro across the tracks than with the Man.
As the media critic Susan Douglas has put it in a particularly astute essay on talk radio, "For many of his listeners, Imus turns the tables on money, power, and entitlement"; his show is a place "where polite people in prestigious and influential jobs have to 'suck up' as Imus puts it, to a man who breaks all the rules of bourgeois, upper-middle-class decorum." Here, of course, is how he slipped into troubled waters.
To understand his comment, that the Rutgers women's basketball team were "nappy-headed hos," you have to see it in its many dimensions. The comment was witless and dehumanizing, an insult not only to these players but to African-Americans, women, women athletes, and any permutation of the above. But it was not said principally to that effect. It was said on the (false) premise that being "politically correct" is still a cornerstone of "bourgeois, upper-middle-class decorum," and is still a dominant mind-set in the culture at large. Imus was exploiting a cynical confusion, a common one on the AM dial. In talk radio, the P.C. bogey is kept on life support, the better to allow the heaping of abuse on the marginal and disenfranchised to pass itself off as speaking truth to power.