A friend, we'll call him Sardou, brought my attention to Don Imus in the early seventies because he said he had a funny radio show, but I had soured on him long before he brought his act to MSNBC television. I always felt Imus was never as clever as he thought he was and was an arrogant and shameless self-promoter. What's more, he's a trash talking bully who seems to have infatuated all the Washington media types by saying things they would sometimes like to, but are restrained by common manners. That never stopped Imus. Maybe that's why they think he's so hilarious. But need I remind anyone of his universally panned performance at the White House Correspondents' Dinner a few years back? Everybody's a comedian.
In the 70s, it became obvious that Imus fell in love with two things; cocaine and Richard Pryor. Anyone who heard his disastrously unfunny comedy album, circa 1979, would realize that Imus is not a racist, he's just stupid. He believed in his delusional mind that he would be the Caucasian Richard Pryor and had a nightclub act filled with the same racial epithets that Pryor used, and the same chronic use of anatomical terms. Coming from Pryor, the outrage and the irony made it funny. Only from Imus' mouth, similar words sounded sour and mean spirited. He was fortunate to have the radio voice to fall back on, but what he really wanted was a career in stand-up. As we now know, he is humor challenged.
There are sure a lot of people making apology tours these days. First, Mel Gibson with the Jews, then Kramer's night club rant and Joe Biden talking about how "clean" Barack Obama is. If Biden wanted to score racial points, he might have said that Obama is, "tired, but he's clean." Then there was the hilarious Hillary Minstrels in Selma, where Mrs. Clinton did everything but talk about her junk in the trunk. But why is it that every time one of these cracker assholes goes off the deep end, they are from Hollywood and Washington? It used to be just Southerners who were villianized as racist, but people from the south seem to have more inter-racial contacts than people elsewhere. Imus' stupid remark about the Rutgers girls' basketball team being "nappy-headed ho's," shows two things clearly; He still wishes he had the "street cred" of a Richard Pryor by attempting to sound radical, and he has no black friends or acquaintances.
Here's a little rule of thumb from the South. Remember when they told you, "If you're a child, then don't talk back?" Well, "if you're white, don't talk black." It is a condescending insult to intelligent black people everywhere to believe you think in order to communicate, you must slip into some racial patois you heard on Def Comedy Jam. People like Michael Richards and Imus may claim they are not racist and they well may be right, but their behavior shows an uncomfortableness with people of different races and a clear lack of contact with anyone other than those like themselves. This self-segregation is one of the major factors contributing to our country's racial misunderstandings, and a faux cowboy like Don Imus can say what a decent human being he is all he wants, but remove his "thug" language, and he still managed to insult a group of teenage girls without cause or concern.
I'm enjoying watching Imus squirm. I love to see a bully get their comeuppance. And if Imus is knocked from his perch of political insider, who put him there in the first place? The MSNBC two-week suspension says a great deal about that network as well. During an unprecedented call-up of National Guard troops for duty in Iraq and the Justice Department threatening to collapse under the weight of "loyal Bushies," MSNBC devoted a entire half of their nightly program, "Hardball," to the Imus story. Don Imus makes too much advertising money for them to fire him, so they must not care a great deal about offending any listeners. But corporate America always does market studies before it makes a move, and they probably decided that black people weren't their target demographic anyway. So who cares if another middle-aged white man is amused by the misogynist lyrics and language of a small group of self-denigrating people who have somehow captured the public imagination? When the hip-hop "gangsta" culture promotes this view of black women and receives billions of dollars in profits and sales, why is it surprising that an aging Richard Pryor wannabe should be emboldened to try it himself. The saddest part is that if a black comedian had said the same thing, everyone would have laughed. Imus thought he could get away with using racial humor because he is emboldened by its all too common usage in the culture. Problem was, nothing he said was remotely funny.