Saturday, April 14, 2007

Don Imus

Don Imus is off the air for the first time in 35 years because he couldn't resist partaking in a little good ol' boy humor live on the air for millions of listeners and viewers to hear. That he's paid the price for those comments with his job is being portrayed as righteous retribution carried out by the powers that be at NBC and CBS who were morally outraged by his racially and sexually insensitive comments. In my opinion, the reality is that as soon as the advertisers started bailing, Imus' fate was sealed and it was all over but the shouting.

The talking heads are already apoplectic about double standards, particularly in regard to rap music. "Why can rappers and comedians (aka Black people) say anything they want but a radio host can't? Don Imus is really the victim here of a racial double standard." In other words, it's Black people's fault that Imus said what he said. Talk about blaming the victims.

The reality is that rap music is manufactured, marketed, and distributed pretty much exclusively by White owned and managed corporations. Additionally most of the music is purchased by White youths. In other words, the only portion of this industry not controlled by Whites is the rapping (and beat production) itself. What does that mean? Well, when I was younger, most of the rap music was either party type dance music with nonsensical lyrics, and later politically charged rhymes dealing primarily with themes of Black empowerment. Sometime in the late 80's, that all changed, and rap music transformed to all gangsta's, all the time. So what happened? I'm not sure, but the success of groups like N.W.A. seems to have lead the major record companies to only sign acts with similar drug laden and violent lyrics. It's pretty much been that way ever since, and the results are visible for all to see.

Now the word is out that if Blacks can't get their own house in order, then expect Whites to continue to say whatever they please. I have a problem with that. I'll be the first to say that rappers (and other artists) need to have some sense of propriety and decency when recording their music. However no matter how foul-mouthed they are, it still doesn't give anyone the right to go on the public airwaves and make insensitive comments of the sort Imus made. And it's absolutely pathetic and juvenile that the only rationale offered so far is that "well rappers and comedians say worse than that, so why should he be fired?"


The great unspoken truth about our society is that we have not dealt with race in a way that actually allows us to get beyond our past. I'm willing to bet that no matter how much protesting or angry letters generated, the situation would have been completely different if American Express or the other major advertisers had decided to stand pat. They didn't, and Imus is history, at least until he signs his upcoming multimillion dollar deal with one of the satellite radio companies. In that respect, for Imus and his defenders to resort to pointing fingers at everyone but Imus is a joke.

No comments: