Thursday, April 12, 2007

Victory for Po-Faced School Marms

I was going to write something about Don Imus, but I see that Sean Collins has already said everything I would have wanted to say and, as per usual, he's said it better than I could have. Like Sean, I've listened to Imus a lot over the years and, like Sean, my father is a huge fan. Anyone who's actually listened to the show should know that (a) Imus isn't a racist, (b) the show's style of humor is offensive - but it's a comedy show and it's irreverence and lack of good taste is part of the point, and (c) there's nothing else quite like it in terms of combining this kind of humor with political commentary and discussion (he has great guests and gets them to say genuinely interesting things instead of the normal talk show b.s. - The Daily Show and The Colbert Report seem like they're playing it safe by comparison).

It's depressing to see all these media pundits and professional moralizers lining up on TV like a bunch of po-faced school marms to decry Imus.

But it's more depressing that this has turned into such a big story. Is this another case of Onion News turning into real news? I mean, "Comedian Tells Offensive Ethnic Joke" seems like a pretty unimportant story compared to some actual newsworthy current events. Sean points out that this is probably a chance for all the media folks Imus has offended to get back at him. I think this is probably true and I'd add that there's nothing that the tyrannical gnomes in media world love to do more than turn on one of their own. Mel Gibson's tirade eventually blew over, partly, I think, because Gibson was a Hollywood person. Don Imus, on the other hand, was one of the most successful people in the New York media world and this was a chance for a bunch of his "colleagues" to act on their resentment.

This is why I want to move to a farm in Vermont and start making goat cheese for a living.


T Hodler said...

I have never listened to Don Imus, so I don't really have any opinion on whether or not he is a racist or sexist (though it's easy to understand why people are upset). All the same, I do understand why you are discomfited by the mob politics and rush to judgment.

However, I also think Imus could have weathered the PR storm if he'd been a little smarter. No one forced him to go on Al Sharpton's radio show (a gigantic mistake). No one forced him to stay on the air, and make appearances on every talk show he could find, raising the scandal's profile higher every day. And with each tone-deaf, cliché-ridden public apology he made, Imus only dug his hole deeper. ("I've eaten in the same room as black children!", "I can't get any place with you people", etc.)

I think if he had been smarter, he would have made one simple apology, then gone away for a couple of weeks, and he almost certainly would have survived. So I understand your position, but I think it's only fair to take Imus's extremely bad crisis management into account.

Beanu said...

When can we move to the farm in VT? Can we have chickens too?

John Hall said...

Didn't you just leave Vermont?

Jon Hastings said...

t - You're probably right. But the lesson ("never apologize") is also kind of depressing.

beanu - sure, but just for the eggs.

John - I'm at the start of my third year here in NYC, which follows 3 years in VT, which, in turn, followed 2 years in NYC, and before that, 3 years in VT. In other words, my return to VT in the next year or so would be right on schedule, although this time I think it will be for good.

Anonymous said...

As I am neither po faced or a school marm, I suppose I shouldn't find anything satisfactory about what was clearly a politically based firing. And by politically, I mean the Powers That Be finally had good reason to get rid of Imus.

That said, the lesson *isn't* never apologize. It's apologize like you mean it, and don't act you're entitled to people's understanding and forgiveness. Imus realised he was wrong, terrific. But that annoying, "I *said* I'm sorry already," subtext doesn't play any better as PR spin than with annoyed personal friends.

Maybe if he had better back-up in the media world he'd still be on the air to offend "everybody". Stern is around, after all.