ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–The sun no longer will rise on Don Imus and his morning radio program. The shock-jock, long known for crude humor and insensitive commentary, was fired April 11 by MSNBC. CBS Radio followed suit just one day later. Imus’ dismissal came in response to outrage over disparaging remarks he made about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team.
Commenting on the recently played NCAA championship game, Imus called the ladies from Rutgers “nappy-headed hos.” And, while the I-man’s comments were racist, sexist and downright vulgar, they were not new. Imus had been spewing similar offensive comments for years.
I tried to listen to Imus a couple of times, but I could never last more than five minutes. I found his show to be inane, humorless and offensive. However, there were plenty of people who found the I-man’s shtick entertaining. According to USA Today, he had 2.5 million listeners and generated approximately $15 million in ad revenue yearly.
Imus is only one example of just how coarse and crass American culture has become. There are dozens of rappers, hip hop artists, comedians and shock-jock wannabes who regularly say things much worse than “nappy-headed hos.”
It is difficult to watch television without encountering crude language and sexual innuendo. Even if you are able to find a decent program to watch, you are likely to encounter a bevy of boorish and sexually charged advertising.
Movies are rife with tasteless, sophomoric humor and foul language. Much like television, when a decent film does come along, theater patrons must endure coming attractions that many times are not suitable for all ages.
Much of the to-do over Imus’ recent remarks smacks of hypocrisy. The moral outrage over the I-man’s disgusting diatribe is warranted, but missing is a similar indignation over the fact that the same rhetoric saturates much of popular music.
Why is OK for a rapper like 50-Cent to derogatorily rhyme about females as hos -– and even worse, but it is not OK for Imus to do the same? In my opinion, they are nothing more than two disgusting peas situated in the same offensive pod.
Some talking heads and radio personalities are speculating that the Imus situation might lead to a new sensitivity in America. Meanwhile, Google is selling “Nappy Headed Ho” merchandise. A variety of T-shirts and teddy bears can be had for between $17.99 and $24.99 a piece.
When Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction occurred during halftime at the 2004 Super Bowl, there was outrage similar to the Imus situation. As a result, many thought American entertainment would take a turn for the better. We are three years removed from the event and, if anything, things have gotten worse.
Pardon me if I am not overly impressed with the selected outrage over Imus’ recent racist and sexist comments. The I-man is only a symptom of a much larger problem. The real issue is a culture that views coarse humor, vulgar language and crass sexuality as entertaining.
Don Imus is nothing more than a mirror of American popular culture. His recent tirade caused many to take a peek at the reflection. Most have not liked what they have seen. However, real change is possible only if we are willing to take a long look in that mirror and accept what we have become. If all we are able to see is the face of Don Imus, and then turn away, our culture will continue to be racist, sexist, and vulgar.
Kelly Boggs is editor of the Louisiana Baptist Message. His column appears each week in Baptist Press.