Archive for April, 2007

Weighing in on Don Imus -or- More pointless crap over which to obsess

April 12, 2007 Leave a comment

[This entry was originally posted on my MySpace blog. It was transferred to WordPress on 1/20/2013.]

Weighing in on Don Imus

Who is Don Imus? He’s a rich, old white guy with a radio show. Why does something he says matter? It doesn’t. When I first heard about this from my friend Josh, I said, “Holy crap, he got away with that? That’s messed up.” And the more I thought about it, yes. He should probably get in trouble for referring to a predominantly Black women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hoes”. Although it was off the cuff and in the midst of comedic riffing, it’s pretty inappropriate. What it all really comes down to is this – if I were to make comparable remarks at my hotel job in front of the guests and my bosses got wind of it, I’d be gone so quickly that I wouldn’t know what hit me. Normal people would get fired for it, as should a rich old radio commentator.

And that’s where it should stand. That’s it. Old guy says some stupid shit, gets reprimanded, end of story. Right? Of course not! This is America!!

Well, the Anna Nicole Smith saga came to a supposed conclusion when the baby’s daddy was dramatically announced. People have lost interest in the crying girl on American Idol. Britney has dropped out of the limelight for now. So of course, we in American culture have to find some other stupid shit to obsess over instead of paying attention to the real issues facing us. Such as, will George Bush actually fund our men and women serving overseas and serve them better by bringing them home or will he whip out his veto pen? You see, regardless of what side you’re on, THAT issue matters. As does Darfur. As do carbon emissions. Yeah, yeah…listen to that bleeding heart liberal ranting about partisan issues. They are REAL issues about things that actually matter and effect human life!

Who is Don Imus? He’s a rich old white guy with a radio show that said stupid stuff. Why does it matter, I asked. The answer is that it doesn’t. Why should the media frenzy around this guy that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme? There is an awful double standard here. There are bigoted and hateful things uttered quite frequently on TV and radio, and not just thoughtless, stupid, off the cuff remarks. We’re talking deliberate, malicious things being said by some people toward others that tend to go unreprimanded.

People in government and politics:
Newt Gingrich (Former Speaker of the House and current Presidential hopeful):
“We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English that that people…learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto.” (In context, he was referring to Spanish and Latino community.)

Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Va.):
“…if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding us of the Koran.” (Oh, how terrifying.)

Trent Lott (Former Speaker of the House [R-MS], praising Strom Thurmond, who in 1948 ran for president on a segregationist ticket):
“When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”

Republican campaign ad, financed by J. Patrick Rooney, a white billionaire:
BLACK MAN #1: “If you make a little mistake with one of your ‘hos,’ you’ll want to dispose of that problem tout suite, no questions asked.”
BLACK MAN #2: “That’s too cold. I don’t snuff my own seed.”
BLACK MAN #1: “Maybe you do have a reason to vote Republican.”

George Allen (R-Va.) (Calling attention to S. R. Sidarth, a staff member of an opponent and Virginia native, and the only person of color at the event):
“Let’s give a welcome to Macaca, here. Welcome to America…”

And now for a couple other radio/television personalities’ questionable remarks:

Glenn Beck (CNN Commentator in an interview with Muslim Rep.-elect Keith Ellison [D-Minn.])
“Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.”

Rush Limbaugh (Conservative radio commentator):
“So those of you white people out there who are supporting Barack Obama, you are racists…So your attempt to assuage all of your white guilt by supporting Obama is worthless because you’re just — you’re just exhibiting racism because you know he’s not a real black.” (He also went on to sing “Barack the Magic Negro”)
Limbaugh also refers to Obama as a “Halfrican American”.

Ann Coulter (addressing a group of conservatives):
“I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot,’ so I — so kind of an impasse, can’t really talk about Edwards.”

Now, these were just a few examples I could come up with quickly. Also, with some of these, attention was indeed drawn. But my point is that the media did not create a circus and nobody lost their jobs over these. Perhaps they should have and there should be no double standard. I know that at my job, if there was a Muslim person that was an employee or guest and I asked him to prove he wasn’t a terrorist, I’d be in trouble. I’d also be in trouble if I sang “Barack the Magic Negro”.

It’s good that Imus got in trouble. Regardless of his motivations, he did something very thoughtless and stupid and anyone else in a normal job would be in trouble. But the point I’m making is that if Imus is going to get fired, so should Rush Limbaugh, so should Glenn Beck, so should Ann Coulter, so should Virgil Goode. If the media is going to inflate a horrid impulsive remark from a little-known radio entertainer, so should they make a stink out of the calculated hate speech spewed forth by these other individuals. We really don’t need to depend on Mel Gibson, Michael Richards and Don Imus for our drama. These guys are just rich old white guys who lose their temper and do stupid things. Yes, they should perhaps be humiliated for humiliating others, but enough is enough. Let’s hear less about Imus and more about the Senate’s Stem Cell bill.

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Musical elitism

[This entry was originally posted on my MySpace blog. It was transferred to WordPress on 1/20/2013.]

What was the last song you listened to on your CD player or your tape player or your iPod? The radio doesn’t count — you don’t control what’s played there. Seriously – think about the last piece of music you actually chose to listen to. Do you have it in your mind? You don’t have to tell me what it is, but if you did, how would it make you feel? Would you be embarrassed at how cheesy or trendy it is? Would you be proud of how obscure or indie it is? Or would you say, “who gives a crap what I listen to”?

[A fun fact about Tony’s iPod: Ace of Base’s entire album, The Sign, is there.]

I love music. For the first two years of my higher education I was a music major. This included studying, analyzing and performing many diverse pieces of music. From Fauré to Glenn Miller, from Dvorâk to Melissa Etheridge, music was my education and it was central to my world. It was in the music program that I became very critical of music — oftentimes not being able to enjoy songs because I was too busy analyzing the arrangement or how nasal and immature a vocalist sounded. In some ways, being a music student cursed me because I began imposing rules on art. I was less about the passion and diversity and more about the structure and the form. Eventually I left the music program because music was becoming a chore instead of an activity that I could love. I’ve recovered from many of those issues. But something that I did end up walking away with was a certain degree of music snobbery or elitism. I could be very opinionated about what other people listened to.

[A fun fact about Tony’s iPod: Nu Thang, dcTalk’s entire second album, is there.]

One time, amongst a gathering of friends, a younger person in the group said something about Christina Aguilera. In a derogatory manner, I responded, “Pfft. Christina Aguilera.” A different member of the group, my old friend Clint, said something to the effect of “You have something against Christina?” I said, “She’s not good.” “To you,” he replied. “At all.” “No, just to you. A lot of people like her. She fits their musical tastes. You can’t say that just because you don’t happen to like her that she’s not good.” It’s so simple, but it’s so true. A person can have preference amongst genres, but that does not mean that the omitted genres contain untalented miscreants. A person cannot control what type of music makes them feel good, or which particular song strikes them. A person should never be ashamed of what kind of music they enjoy listening to. Conversely, a person should never feel elite for liking a band that is not in the mainstream. A person should never try to hoard other people’s music to oneself. Musical elitism is just ridiculous.

[A fun fact about Tony’s iPod: An extensive assortment of Junebug live tracks are there.]

After I left the music department at my school, I continued exploring my own musical creativity, which was far different than the music I studied at school. I enjoy playing guitar and singing my own songs — songs which, of course, would never hold up to music major scrutiny. But I have continued just the same. It has not been for the sake of form and structure, but rather for expression, art and fun. That’s what music should be. Everyone who writes and performs music has some artistic ability — even if it is minimal. Obviously, some people are not as skilled as others and not everybody is good at what they do — but if a listener enjoys it, what is wrong with that? No one should be looked down on for liking a particular singer or band. Likewise, a music writer and performer should be allowed to enjoy their own music without being looked on as arrogant or full of themselves. Once after a Junebug show, Dustin, Anthony and I were viewing a videotape of the show and when a particular song came up we tapped our feet and bobbed and really got into it. An observer made the disparaging remark that it was silly that we were “getting down to [our] own music.” If we don’t get down, how can we expect anyone else to? Also, I now and then like to listen to a track that I have recorded myself — but I sure as heck don’t want anyone to catch me doing so. And why is that? I’m not arrogant about my music in the least. I just feel that if I’m not allowed to enjoy my songs, I don’t know who else can.

[A fun fact about Tony’s iPod: I recently purchased the song “What Goes Around” by Justin Timberlake.]

I think that people should stop using music as a means to determine a person’s personality or as a way to cast judgment. I think that if a person enjoys Top 40 radio, they should be allowed to do so without reproach. I think that if a person enjoys super-rare, unheard of indie bands, they should be allowed to do so without snobbery. I know plenty of people on all sides of this and I’m not singling anyone out — I’m just making my views heard. Different types of music exist to accommodate different tastes. People do not control what they like or do not like. If you like N*SYNC, listen to them. If you like Cannibal Corpse, listen to them. If you like the Smashing Pumpkins, listen to them. If you like Justin Timberlake, listen to him. Don’t let anyone get down on you for your music.

Categories: Uncategorized