Saturday, April 14, 2007
Okay, I was gonna blog about my feelings regarding the whole Don Imus fiasco. Or perhaps the logical comparisons between Prosecutorgate and Watergate. But then something of greater urgency came up, and I felt obliged to blog about it.
The other day, a Dallas DJ was quoted on NPR as saying he hated the TV show FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS because "it just reinforces the stereotype that all Texans are interested in is football, and sex on the washing machine." About the same time, the local Tex-Mex restaurant chain here put billboards up all over Michiana that say "Hacienda: Satisfying more desperate housewives than the spin cycle!"
Okay, would somebody please explain to this apparently naive (and more than a little grossed out) Yankee:
a) What is the attraction of exposing ones naked "parts" to cold, hard porcelain?
b) Does one have to wait for the spin cycle for maximum effect?
c) Does this activity require a partner, or can it be pursued "solitaire"?
d) Is this really a "Texas" thing? And if so, don't you people know about beds, sofas, sand dunes, or the grass in the park? You know... SOFT surfaces!
Okay, about Imus.
His departure, even though deserved, saddens me a bit. I have always liked Imus. I am sure he must feel like somebody changed the rules in the middle of the game. After all, he's been saying equally outrageous (or more so) things on the air for 35 years. However, I do understand what makes this different.
The reason I have always liked Imus is his willingness to take on the rich and powerful and cut them down a size or three. He said outrageous, sometimes almost vicious, things about, and to people, but never somebody who couldn't defend themselves, and never somebody of whom you couldn't honestly say you didn't see at least a resemblance to Imus' remarks.
But these girls are different. They clearly don't resemble "nappy headed Ho's". They are articulate, attractive young women with no real platform to defend themselves, and they clearly don't resemble Imus' characterization of them.
Imus went a step too far, and is justly paying for it. I have no problem with that.
What I do have a problem with is the number of black people who have publicly defended their use of words like the "N" word and Ho. They argue that there is a difference between white people using those words and blacks using them. The argument, probably expressed most articulately by ESPN's Stuart Scott, is that by using these words, blacks endeavour to take the power out of them. There is only one problem with that argument. It is dead wrong.
What it really does is tell the world that even blacks have bought into the stereotype. That even they believe the connotations to be true. It is just like hearing one black kid tell another that being smart and getting good grades is "acting white." Because the inference there is that to really be black, you must be dumb and uneducated. How do you expect whites not to believe the stereotype if you have bought into it?
As someone who as a young man was a foot soldier in the civil right movement (yeah, I marched and carried signs and hung out at the mall getting petitions signed), I am deeply saddened by the clear deterioration of Black American culture the last thirty years. Back when I was a young man, black culture was very matriarchal, women were deeply respected. I never heard any of my black friends worry about their "Pops" reaction to their behavior. But Momma, now THAT was a different story. These kids both revered and feared their mothers. So how is it now that black culture has become so misogynist?
Listen to what passes for music in black culture today. There is constant reference to women as "Ho's". Constant reference to sexual domination and violence. What does that say to the people who are the biggest consumers of this music, suburban white males? Yes, Stuart Scott et. al.... it reinforces all those negative stereotypes you so want to shed.
Words like nigger, niggah, whore, or ho are and should be extremely offensive no matter who's mouth they come out of.
Okay, off my soap box.
Want a laugh?
Go to Google
click on "maps"
click on "get directions"
enter from: New York, New York
to: Paris, France
read directions, making careful note of line #23
Somebody at Google has a sense of humor!
I'm on the fence with the "word reclamation" movement. Women have tried it with the whole "girly culture" thing, gays have tried it by reclaiming "fag" and "dyke" but I think there is something inherently different with "N---". It doesn't work with this word because this word carries far more power than the others.
As for rap music. You ask what does it say to young white males. I would argue the more appropriate question is what does it say about them. They're the ones supplying the money - and if a record didn't sell, others like it wouldn't be made. I honestly think that since the hip hop movement has been hijacked by the record industry - that the money men are the ones pushing the gangsta stereotype. Black culture has been integrated more and more into the white 'norm' and therefore been brought more under its influence. What happened to matriarchs you ask? Society doesn't respect them. American society has a very clear cut vision of what a "real" family is - and it doesn't include momma and grandma and auntie. It includes mommy, daddy, and fido. There's a great article I have about the devaluing of "othermothering" in Black culture - the communal raising of children by women who are (and sometimes not) blood relations to the children and how that system was destroyed because it does not represent "real" family.
I hate hate hate those words, and all the others like it. You're right, it's incredibly sad the way those things have been bought into.
While I'm appalled by Imus's attitude, I can't comprehend why Glenn Beck can get away with calling every third woman he mentions a ho, and Howard Stern can do whatever he wants, but Imus gets canned after a decades-long career. If we're going to indulge in self-righteous indignation, let's be even-handed about it, at least...
I agree about the black "rap" language. To me, calling your girlfriend bitch or ho is like calling your grandma a mofo. Where's the respect for the women in their lives?!
After I checked out the driving directions to Paris, I tried driving from California to Hawaii. They said it couldn't be done! ;)
a. You don't HAVE to be nekkid, but that's a bonus, the attraction is similar to riding on a motorcycle. Kinda pleasant.
d. No. Beds, sofas, sand dunes or the grass in the park are good, too. But why stop there?
I'm off to swim to France now, must add the Eiffel Tower to the list in D.