UPDATE: More here.
The Don Imus Kerfluffle means nothing until you understand the nature of his act.
It’s a sex act. And it’s not love-making.
Imus has spent the better part of two decades now portraying a female porn star on morning radio. (What else is a 66-year old man doing with brown hair down to his shoulders?) Producer Bernard McGuirk, and newsreader Charles McCord play the male parts. They surround him, they tease him, they goad him, they needle him, they taunt him, and they giggle in that "heh heh" way men do around women they’re about to "do."
They are, in effect, abusing and harassing him, just as women are verbally abused and harassed every day — in bars, in offices, in schools, or on the street.
The "sex," in this case, is some inane outburst like the one which got Imus into trouble last week. Say something racist, Imus, say something sexist, they taunt. Oh no, he chuckles, you’re going to get me into trouble. C’mon Imus, you know you want to. You want it as bad as we do. And it finally comes out. At which point they all laugh — McGuirk, McCord, Imus, the audience. They’re all in on it. If you listen, or watch, you’re in on it too.
To make it more entertaining, they bring in "guest stars," straight reporters and politicians who are usually the targets of Imus’ act. They take his verbal bukkake and in so doing, legitimize it for the rest of the audience, which mentally gets off on what he’s saying, and the fact he’s getting away with it, and the fact the producer is getting away with it — heh heh heh.
You take away what Imus calls "comedy" and you have nothing. That’s the whole act — the goading, the tittering, the climax. At the heart of it all has always been the guys around Imus, the ones who set him off. Notice that one of him is his producer.
(Picture from Wikipedia.)
This is ritualized sexual abuse, which they play on Imus, which Imus
then plays on us, which the media legitimizes, and which millions of people
take with their morning coffee. It’s the perfect accompaniment to New
York traffic, where sons-of and damned-yous of every sex, race, age, and
ethnicity cut you off in traffic, make you late, and abuse your last
nerve. What better way is there to get through such an experience,
every morning, than to listen to other people get abused, to laugh at
how ugly and stupid and worthless they are.
The only way for you to feel worthwhile is to feel others are worthless. That’s the heart of the problem. The enemy isn’t Imus. It’s the Imus in all of us.
This really didn’t come into focus for me until I read about yesterday’s Al Sharpton show.
(No, I didn’t know Sharpton had a radio show before, either.) Imus was abasing himself. He called himself "an old cracker." And
Sharpton called him on it. It was like hearing the female porn star
call herself a whore and watching the preacher try to say, no, you’re
not, you don’t have to be that way, you shouldn’t be that way.
The fault for it, for all of it, lies with us, and within us. This could not be revealed until the political calculus changed so that revealing this truth, holding up the mirror to the audience, was possible. As long as such "frat boy humor" was legitimate, from Washington city to Long Island City, and criticism of such humor was illegitimate, Imus was golden. But times have changed.
And now that this job is done, we have an opportunity, a responsibility really, to do more than throw Don Imus aside. We need to look inside ourselves, at what we found so funny in Imus’ act, in the racism and sexism and ageism and etc.-ism we use to get through our day and make ourselves feel worthy.
Is that necessary? And if it’s not, if such abuse is truly beyond the pale, are we going to accept it anywhere else? Will we continue to accept it from Bill O’Reilly, from Rush Limbaugh, from Fox & Fiends, from all the rest of them?
This is all part of The 1967 Game. Back then the bulk of the American people made some hard decisions about what they considered legitimate, and illegitimate.
The illegitimate — the sex, the drugs, the hippies — were marginalized. It took time — they’re still most of what we think about when we think about that time — but there were marginalized. And every attitude they had was marginalized. But we’ve gone too far in that direction. We’ve gone from the "Summer of Love" to this "Springtime for Hitler." And it’s time to turn back.
Time to marginalize the haties.