Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Oh Imus

The media is powerful. The power it wields is interesting because it's an industry run by few. At times it seems to be very much an in-crowd, out-crowd situation. Those who represent and often dictate what's hot, funny, in or out. Right now, Don Imus is very much part of the out-crowd. Statements made by Imus and his cohorts have earned them a slow shake of the head from audience and peers. After his referral to the Rutgers female basketball team as a bunch of "nappy-headed hos" there have been plenty of articles about the evils of Imus. And, let's be clear, this post isn't an attempt to defend him but a request that we all please take a moment and try to recount the number of times you've heard comments like this come out the mouths of others; comedians, broadcasters, your best friend...you.

I'm not excusing him, far from it, he and his cohorts should be held accountable. If not, for being completely misogynistic and slightly racist (or for just being oblivious...Do the Right Thing and School Daze, same director/writer, both iconic but not the same) then simply for not remembering the one cardinal rule of being a representative of cool; what matters most is what you say on the air. That's why everyone is upset right? If not, then that's how it feels. Repression of the speaker doesn’t change the fact that statements like Imus' are common. Instead let's examine why ideas like this are ever considered OK.

It doesn’t seem to matter that what he said represents prevailing views of female athletes and let's not forget women of color in general and the generations-long assault on our femininity and our inability to fit into the beauty ideal. It is constantly being made clear that this world is not for us, as if we are some kind of exception, an accepted anomaly. And if we ever hope to make passing old hat then we’re going to have to face the real issues sitting on top of Imus’ statements rather than pretend his blatancy is the problem.

If we continue to harp on the superficial nature of his comments, on the fact that he had the nerve to say them on the air we may as well keep the criticisms simple. We could leave it to demanding a simple apology, saying he should have known better and kept those jokes for times out drinking with his buddies instead of saying them when he knew others could hear. Imus is many things and above all ignorant but I will give credit where credit is due. His statements have caused all of us to, once again, face the fact that there exist some underlying issues in the way we view women breaking out of their "traditional" roles. They have also laid bare the often buried (though in very shallow graves) ideas regarding the desire for black women to "compensate" or their inherent flaws, nappy hair and all.

- Ashleigh Rae

1 comment:

Wendi Muse said...

what's interesting is that imus blames his comment on blacks. i write about his co-opting black vernacular to criticize blacks here: http://mattersofrace.blogspot.com/2007/04/oh-mr-imus-when-will-it-end.html

should we watch what we say around/in front on/near white onlookers like we do in front of children so that it won't be repeated? is it our fault if the child repeats what we say?