Saturday, April 14, 2007

Imus: My critical response

The people have spoken. Because of his bigoted and inflammatory remarks, Don Imus was given the boot.

OK. What now?

I’m left to wonder if this story will merely get filed away as another sad display of public bigotry that leads to no significant change or if it will be the catalyst for raising awareness and sparking intelligent debate about the idea of freedom of speech, dissipating bigotry, and the responsibility of the media. While its my hope that this incident (using the many years of our nation’s despicable history as a context) will lead to an open and honest discourse about race and gender relations in this country, the pessimistic part of me (or perhaps the Keepin' it Real part of me) isn’t counting on it.

Now that Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have gotten what they exhausted their airtime protesting over (Imus’ firing and, of course, boosting their own publicity), I’m interested to see how (or if) they’ll shift their attention toward fumigating the airwaves of these so-called “artists” in the music industry who perpetually produce the same shit for which Imus was fired (in fact, I would argue that their “entertainment” does more damage to black folks than what Imus could ever do.). To not have the same passion against the music industry (rappers and producers alike) for committing similar offenses will make folks like Sharpton and Jackson larger-than-life hypocrites. Some may disagree (it wouldn’t be the first time), but Imus’ insensitive comments pale in comparison to the imagery generated by music and movies that manage to find its way into millions of homes every night. Let’s keep it real here. There are more people who watch videos on BET than who listen to Imus.

That being said, entertainment companies who make a fortune by using exploitation as their medium must be challenged to stop their highly profitable cultural degradation. Or else, this hoopla about Imus will be nothing more than an individual crusade against one bigot, a total waste of resources, and a major defeat toward any progress that has been or could be made.

Now, I’ll admit: there are millions of folks in this country who could care less about any of this. Regardless to the progressive ideas that could come out of this story, BET will still be a popular choice for entertainment. The objectification of woman, the obsession with material, and the embracing of violence as a means to secure credibility are all concepts that will continue to be sold to the masses; as long as a demand is evident. Also, as I suspect, strong proponents of the 1st amendment will view any attempts to censor this nonsense as a violation. Given these irrefutable facts, I frankly consider it unnerving to think that Black America and the media have somehow allowed for people like Sharpton and Jackson to become our more forefront vocal advocates. While I give them credit for being able to forcefully and eloquently speak for the marginalized groups in this country, I also see them as being opportunists, blatantly self-ambitious, and contradictory. The incredible amount of self-significance with which they crown themselves is not only unwarranted, but it’s a clear indication of the extent to which ‘black leaders’ have failed us. There's far more to being a leader than jumping in front of a camera threatening to boycott every time someone cries “racism”.

Again, I give them credit for standing up to challenge Imus; a challenge that ultimately led to change. MSNBC, CBS, and co. would not have likely responded had someone not plant the seed of protest. But now that that’s over with, will it lead to a more involved movement against the ills of society? Will it lead to a much needed reform in the black community?

I guess that remains to be seen.


6 "Insiders" spoke their mind. Join in...:

Diane J. said...

I couldn't agree more, Andre! And it's not only blacks with the thug, woman-trashing hip-hop mentality, but the whites and Latinos who are emulating the blacks and trying to "be" black.

One thing I still don't understand is why it's okay for one black to call another a n*gger or a ho, but let a white person say the same thing and it's war in the 'hood.

You know me well enough by now to know that there's not a racist bone in my body, but I really, honestly and truly don't understand that double-standard.

Preach on, brother, preach on!

Have a great weekend, Andre. :-)

PS: I figure that GreenEyed heifer will be sniffing around anytime, but I got here first, so there! *blows raspberries*

Anonymous said...

"I frankly consider it unnerving to think that Black America and the media have somehow allowed for people like Sharpton and Jackson to become our more forefront vocal advocates."

I'm curious as to exactly how much of "Black America" really views these two as being their "representation". The truth be told, I know many non-blacks that view them as being such, and as disappointing as it is, many of these persons tend to base their entire attitude towards blacks on what these two "representatives" say and/or do. Of course both Mr. Sharpton & Mr. Jackson have done plenty of good over the course of their lives, but lacking a better example (other "races" don't appear to see whites as having a "representative" in the same manner; correct me if I'm wrong as I am 100% honky) this view is comparable to much of the world viewing good ol' boy Dubya as really representing all of us Americans; scary @ best.


Malik said...

Not you too! Hip-hop? Hip-hop is the source of misogny and racism in America? Please!

One nice thing about having a blog is that you don't have to go through the trouble of restating things you've said before, so here's something I said two years ago:

"...almost ALL popular music is hedonistic and morally degraded, from country to rock to hip-hop. However, it’s always hip-hop that gets the label of being an inherently degraded GENRE of music, rather than one genre among many that has plenty of examples of stupid music just like the rest, in much the same way that the crimes and indiscretions of black youth are attributed to their blackness, rather than to the general rashness and stupidity of all youth."

But before we get into a pointless argument over what variety of music is most hedonistic and insulting, let me share my opinion of what I think this whole controversy amounts to in the first place: Don Imus: Cheap Shots and Cheap Victories

The H.C. said...

Hey Andre,
No doubt this will be only a brief moment in time where everyone stood up and stoned another racist. Will it matter? NO. Not for one minute. All the parties, Rev. Sharpton, and Jackson, will once again congratulate themselves on winning in the name of righteousness and then return to their thrown of representing all black people on all matters regarding race. Nothing will change. When will the crap perpetuated by artists and Rich supporters end? It will end when WOMEN say enough is enough. Me and you can carry on for ever, but the truth is, it doesn't carry much weight because all we're doing is standing up for someone else. Where are all the Feminists on this? It's so wrong for me to say it wouldn't hurt my wife to cook me a meal, but you say NOTHING about someone saying you should be used like a condom and then shot and dumped in a ditch? It may make us all feel better to punish Imus, but until something changes about the level of tolerance we have for this in ALL media, my guess is, nothing will change.

Andre said...

@ Diane: I understand why the double-standard exists. But I won't even try to justify it.

P.S. I'm stayin' out the Diane/Greeny conflict. I'm not crazy enough to come between two women...

@ Nic: I don't think it's necessarily just an issue of black folks identifying with Sharpton and Jackson as 'leaders'. That's just how they're portrayed in the media. And we all know how influencial the media can be in shaping people's minds.

@ Malik: Even though I'm in complete agreement with the idea that just about every medium of music is hedonistic (good word, by the way), none of them come close to defining an entire culture (negatively, at that) quite like Hip Hop has done for Black America. I think that's why I'm most critical about this particular movement.

Your post, by the way, was righteous! It's just too bad I can't seem to comment on it once again...

@ HC: No argument there. This case represents some many pointless dynamics: from misappropriation of priorities of black "leaders", the idleness of other equally-impacted marginalized groups, corporate appeasement used as some sort of hush currency to protestors, and a SERIOUS lack of enlightenment and socially signficant discourse.

But why should I be suprised? That's how it's always been.

ajbendaña said...

"I couldn't agree more, Andre! And it's not only blacks with the thug, woman-trashing hip-hop mentality, but the whites and Latinos who are emulating the blacks and trying to "be" black"

I dont think if thats an accurate statment.