Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Post-Imus Radio Landscape Gets Scarier

One of the most frustrating aspects of the whole Don Imus fiasco is the apathy shown by people who in my opinion should have been enraged that such a minor, off-the-cuff remark had led to a public lynching of the legendary host.
The attitude of too many people was either “I don’t listen to his show” or “I’m glad it happened because I hate him”. Sorry, but that’s complete bullshit. The issue wasn’t the person behind the microphone but the idea that a minority of loud-mouthed media whores could limit the free speech of any (or all) broadcast personalities.
Chilling proof that the Imus incident has completely changed the landscape of commercial radio was evident earlier this week in New York City. Free FM’s The Doghouse featuring JV and Elvis repeated an earlier broadcast which featured a prank call to an Chinese restaurant. Hack radio, for sure, but no different than what dozens of “wacky” radio stations do on a daily basis.
While the initial airing resulted in no listener complaints, the post-Imus rebroadcast almost-predictably resulted in a media run by otherwise unknown Organization of Chinese Americans, who decried it as “racist, vulgar, and sexist”. Puh-lease.
JV, who is married to a woman of Chinese descent, immediately apologized, but just like in the Imus incident CBS showed just how scared they are of advertiser backlash. The pair was indefinitely suspended, which in the radio industry almost always means that dismissal is imminent.
I suspect that this won’t be the last incident of this sort. Any radio show that deals with humor of any sort now has to worry that somewhere out there is an individual that will claim they are offended and will run to either a lawyer or a cable news channel. As New York radio critic Allan Sniffin wrote yesterday, “the real issue is that every single group (religious, ethnic, cultural, political--you name it) now feels empowered to object to anything they don't like and the broadcasting companies have no backbone to tell them to get over it. So, instead of laughing at ourselves, we've become an audience of over sensitive crybabies who run to Momma every time someone looks sideways. The end result is that no one can say anything without being in trouble.”
The bottom line for this topic is the same as for those whiners who complain about South Park, Skinemax, MTV, and WWE. If you don’t like what’s on the channel, there’s two wonderful buttons that will solve your personal dilemma. One is a channel changer. You push it, and you end up on a whole new channel. Wow. Repeat until you find something suitable for your bland tastes. If you can’t find anything, there’s also the on/off button. Push that and you’ll never be offended again.
Whatever you do, don’t even think about telling me what should offend me. Just as I don’t call for the banning of evil shows such as American Idol or Oprah, you don’t have the right to take away to take away my shows. After all, how would I get through my boring worday without those naughty bastards Cade, Jen, Opie, Anthony, Ron, Fez, and Little Jimmy Norton?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Idol, Imus, and Other Garbage

As everybody knows, I absolutely despise American Idol. It’s nothing but pure evil. It’s everything that’s wrong with the music business in a one hour show. The fact that a well-known lip-syncher is a vocal judge is reason enough for me, and anybody who seriously follows music, to avoid this show at all costs.
Yet one can’t escape the hype. USA Today has article after article; Entertainment Weekly wastes many pages on this garbage; any other show on Fox features promo after promo hyping how every year or week is the most dramatic ever. Is it? Is it really?
For the good of my readers, though, once a year I put myself through an hour of hell. So last night I poured myself a Windsor/Coke and skipped a brand new episode of Dog, the Bounty Hunter to sit though the longest sixty minutes of my life.
Oh wait, there’s good news! I thought this silly show was on at 8. It actually just ended! Hahahahahahahaha! There is a God after all!
But what am I going to talk about now? I could carry on with the Don Imus situation, but that story is pretty much over now that those gutless bastards at CBS joined MSNBC in firing him from his gig.
I do still have a couple of things to say about this situation, though. I have to call “bravo sierra” on the claims from the players that they were devastated by the words used by Imus. B.S. I guarantee that not only have none of those players ever heard of this crotchety old man, but they hear worse words on a daily basis from friends, lovers, and the CD’s they probably play in the locker room. Once again quoting comedian Patrice O’Neal, their actual response was probably more on the lines of, “oh no he din’t”.
A word of warning to those who enjoy hip-hop – they’re next. Both Sharpton and Jackson promised that they are not finished with their efforts to stop free speech. They’re targeting rap music next, along with anybody else who doesn’t meet the politically-correct standards that they’ve decided everybody should follow. Yet tape after tape of Sharpton’s own unique form of racist hate speech has turned up in recent days.
Enough of that crap. I also gave some thought to yet another attack on our fumbling Mayor. He’s made news once again for turning down an offer of acres of free land to be used for a new arena. I’m not going to once again state the reasons why it’s ludicrous for our city to build something so big, but if it has to be built downtown is just not the place for one. There’s not enough parking and the streets are not wide enough or equipped to handle a few thousand more vehicles.
Yes, it would look fantastic downtown, but you don’t build such a building based only on aesthetics. Placing such a facility where two interstates meet seems to be obvious…but wouldn’t make the mayor’s back-pocket friends any extra cash.
Instead, I’m giving myself the boot once again. I should have been in Vegas this past weekend. I had 7th row seats to see a comedy festival hosted by Opie and Anthony, and starring Jim Norton, Joe Rogan, Louis C.K., Frank Caliendo, Bob Kelly, Patrice O’Neal, and Rich Vos.
After spending the $300 bucks on tickets, I discovered that my total cost of such a trip would probably be close to two grand. With my son’s upcoming birthday and graduation, I decided that this just wasn’t going to work out.
Yet all weekend long I had to endure watching my online fans hang out with the stars while I sat at home nursing a few glasses of whiskey. I stink.
The good news is that at a press conference earlier that day, the radio hosts announced future dates for the tour later this summer on the east coast. Yes, your chubby friend will not only leave his home but will even do some traveling this summer.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Don Imus, Censorship, and Self-Appointed Spokesmen

This week’s rant originated as a condemnation of the Sensitivity Police, who in recent months has seen fit to condemn anybody who states any opinion or makes a wisecrack that they deem to be tasteless, racist, homophobic, sexist, or any of seemingly dozens of sins.
Obviously, the reason why this week would be the time for such babble is due to the actions of talk show host Don Imus. While discussing the outcome of the Rutgers-Tennessee NCAA women’s basketball championship, Imus referred to the Rutgers players as “nappy headed ho’s”.
Sure, it was a tasteless line, but it was also a throwaway off-the-cuff remark. Interestingly, African-American comedian Patrice O’Neal admitted on Monday’s Opie and Anthony show that he had similar thoughts as he watched the game.
It was a dumb joke, and the issue should have ended after he apologized the next morning. Instead, the controversy, fuelled by media whores taking advantage of a slow news week, has spread like cancer into a situation that now has the potential to squash the First Amendment rights of everybody in the television, radio, and print media industries.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at how the vultures have descended on Imus. He can’t apologize enough for these people. He’s spent time on the issue every day this week on his syndicated radio show, along with making appearances on Al Shapton’s radio show and NBC’s Today Show. Every cable news talking head show is devoting a large chunk to the controversy, featuring multiple “experts” with lofty (but questionable) titles explaining to us exactly what we’re supposed to think. Newspaper columnists and bloggers are shocked, shocked, shocked that Imus would say such awful things.
Adding more insult to the non-story, many of these members of the morality police are invoking the word “children” into the story. Yes, the old “what about the children” cliché. Yet the last I checked, with very few exceptions people in college are of adult age, and are able to vote, get married (although why anybody does that I’ll never understand), or join the military. If these athletes can handle the criticism for missing a crucial jump shot, I highly doubt they’ll be scarred by jokes about their tattoos or hair styles.
What’s most troublesome about this situation is the double-standard that’s so explicitly shown in the media coverage. Take Imus and Jackson’s appearances on the Today Show. Matt Lauer had no problems throwing Imus under the bus, particularly when bringing up a previous controversy that happened over 25 years ago. When Meredith Vierra interviewed Rev. Jackson, though, she apologized profusely before asking about an incident where Jackson had made controversial comments about Jews. (Even worse is that after 50 years of nothing but weather reports and interviewing old ladies celebrating their 100th birthday, Al Roker suddenly has an opinon on Imus.)
The fact that extremist race-baiters such as Sharpton and Jackson are now leading the charge for Imus’ dismissal is troubling. They are both the epitome of vultures, always appearing whenever they can maximize their onscreen time. Yet it appears that it’s only the media that claim them as leaders of the African-American community. To prove that point, I did a little unscientific survey of black employees, friends, and acquaintances, and the almost unanimous opinion was “fuck Al Sharpton”.
Brooklyn filmmaker Franklyn A. Strachan Jr. was a bit more eloquent, telling me by email that “neither were elected by the majority of the black population in America to any position of power or representation. Hence forth their opinions are that of themselves and their small contingency; not that of the black population. I am offended by media outlets dictating who speaks for me. If anyone should be reprimanded it is those people who have decided this for me.”
As a society, we cannot stoop to where a handful of people can decide who can say what words, particularly in a comedic or satirical situation. Imus’ show is primarily a comedy show that includes politics, and he cannot possibly be expected to be held to the same standards as Brian Williams or Matt Lauer.
Who is going to decide what words can and cannot be said? Keep in mind that you as a citizen have absolutely no right to NOT be offended by words that anger or offend you. Artists, comedians, actors, and musicians do risk losing work by offering material that may be considered offensive, but they certainly have the right to say them. As Strachan said in his email, “free speech is a right that insures we are an educated society. Without knowing the thoughts and feelings of others we can not clearly be represented. If the opinion is popular or not should be inconsequential, and should not be a factor for discipline”.
Members of the media already have enough problems dealing with the FCC’s vague, post-Janet Jackson rules that have already virtually eliminated any sort of edge-y musical or comedic material. We are inching closer and closer to a puritanical society where even Elvis, the Beatles and Stones would stand no chance of hitting the airwaves, let alone Richard Pryor or George Carlin. Do we really want an entire nation of Celine Dion and Jeff Foxworthy fans?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Chickenshits!!!

It was just reported on KELO that the Lava Lounge has cancelled tonight's Girls Gone Wild event.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Girls Gone Mild?

This town can be so silly sometimes. We so desperately want to think we’re a real city. We act so proud whenever a new business comes to town. Developers come up with grandiose building plans that rarely come to fruition. Our newspaper brags that we’re the “Best Little City in the World”, or something like that. Supposed high-society types put on their Sunday best to bid on second-rate pictures of wildlife and trees at the Pavillion.
But we are soooooo not a real city. We’re a large town at best, full of chain restaurants (don’t think I don’t realize I’m part of that problem) and giant chain stores. We act so smug when a resident ends up on some silly game show. We have a Mayor who at best is mildly retarded. And we can’t even build a four-lane road that crosses through the entire mid-section of our town.
Proof of how small our town was made even clearer the past two days. Monday evening, one of our local television stations reported on the furor behind an event at a local bar. A crew from Girls Gone Wild is supposedly hitting town tonight, and City Commissioner Kevin Kavanaugh is not happy. Visions of nudity and lewd conduct have the moral minority of this town completely freaked out, and the police have promised a posse of uniformed and undercover cops to make sure none of our pure ladies perform any acts they may regret the next day.
Oh yeah, and Kavanaugh and his pals have to throw in one of the major clichés of these type of morality plays. “How dare they put on this kind of activity with a day care right across the street?” Ugh. Double ugh. Is this day care open between 9 pm and 2 am? If not, tell me how this has anything to do with the controversy? (BTW, when we get rid of this cliché, can we also do away with the fake consternation whenever a crime is committed “just blocks from a school”?)
So give me a freaking break. Let’s be real about this. Does anybody out there really believe that Joe Francis, Snoop, or any of the C-level comedians that host these videos are actually going to show up tonight? Are there any fools who believe that any “footage” is going to show up on those infomercials that run over and over on late-night TV?
C’mon. This is a touring event, probably run as a franchise-ish operation, that’s booked in bars all over the country. Whatever connection there is to owner Francis is probably minimal, and the crew is bound to be there more for atmosphere than for any actual video release.
Even if the A-team shows up, I don’t think our local heads of morality have much to worry about. As somebody who has been in attendance at many risqué events, I know what the makeup of the crowd will be. It will be primarily a sausage fest, with 200 male degenerates cheering on less than 20 women, the majority of whom should reconsider dressing provocatively. The only other women present will be girlfriends forced to attend, or the best friend’s of the 20 “performers”. It will be naughty, maybe even raunchy, but the odds of anything bordering on obscene will be slim to none.
No matter what happens, though, the bar hosting the event owes a great big thank you to Mr. Kavanaugh and our local media. They couldn’t have bought the kind of advertising they received these past two days. Sure, if something goes wrong they may suffer some repercussions, but the likelihood of that happening is slim to none. Instead of a poorly promoted event that was unlikely to attract more than 50 or so patrons, the attention this event has received has guaranteed a full house. Good for them, and maybe they’ll now take me off their banned list.