Monday, April 16, 2007

Essay 2007

Advertising Age presented a few more articles inspired by the Don Imus debacle. Below are random selections from reader responses posted online…

> Forget Imus — I’m sure he could have retired by now if he wanted to. And if he doesn’t, he’ll still have a career. But what about the people who had jobs only because his show existed? They don’t have the bounce back or the retirement account that Imus has. Those are the people who have been punished. — DALLAS, TX

> I don’t listen to Imus. Never have except by accident. Still, he did have a following and now those listeners have lost. If we are going to move in this direction, can I present my list of others that need to go as well? I have a bunch that offend me, but I have always handled that the way I handled Imus — I didn’t listen to them. The strange thing about all of this is the fact that I do have a respect for freedom of speech the Constitution provides. This incident certainly wasn’t controlled by the FCC’s vulgar language doctrine. I didn’t hear any expletives in his remarks. I certainly thought his comments about those women were in poor, poor taste, but I can name a lot of folks that make comments in that category including some radio talk show personalities who screamed the loudest about Imus’ remarks. I deal with those folks the same way I deal with Imus, I don’t listen to them either. I’m not sure I put Imus’ comments in the “Hate Speech” category. I never attribute to malice that which can easier be explained by ignorance. I’m also willing to bet Imus may not be out for the count. There is always satellite radio for him to move to [in order] to reach his listeners...or maybe the Internet. I’m sure there is a struggling radio station out there that would like an instant audience. — Gainesville, GA

> Old rules of mass-media free speech:
1) I have a right to say it.
2) If you don’t like what I say, don’t listen.

New rules of mass media free speech:
1) I have a right to say it.
2) If Procter & Gamble doesn’t like what I’m saying, you can’t listen.

While it’s impossible to condone Imus’ speech, it’s also impossible to condone other hateful comments that fly unfettered from various ethnic radio stations in the country, some of which, in NY at least, boast Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson as frequent visitors. Apparently both men have been forgiven for their own transgressions, so perhaps there’s hope for Imus. It just seems to me that nice has to apply on all sides, or it’s just hypocrisy, and corporate censorship.

Don't get me wrong. I prefer nice. And Mr. Deutsch is probably right…we’re seeing the end of an era, at least in mainstream media. But hate is a highly sought after product, and like any product in a fragmented new media world, invidiously to the rest of us, hate will find ways to better engage its audience. I’d rather have it out in the open where I can see it (if I choose to) and check its pulse. — David Langan,, NY, NY

> This and many other industry forums I’ve read in the past week continue to amaze me. People seem to be unable to focus on one point at a time. Separate freedom of speech from support of hate media. Don’t confuse the artist with the art, and don’t label art as “media.” All Donny is saying is, as industry players, we do our part. Go ahead and listen to gangsta rap if you want tonite. Just don’t come into work tomorrow and be surprised if your colleagues and clients don’t feel like using the music as a way to reach the marketplace. It’s a free country, all the way around. — Kevin Horne, NYC, New York, NY

> Whatever! — Atlanta, GA

> Great theory. However, until media buyers are allowed to think conceptually and think for themselves — beyond unreasonably low CPPs — radio and TV stations will continue to program what listeners and viewers listen and view most. Controversial programming drives ratings. O’Reilly fighting with Geraldo moves the needle. Ratings rule the roost. Sure, in the short term firms such as P&G will publicly state that they will “do their darnedest” to avoid controversial programming. Now, let’s be careful. There is a great difference between controversial and objectionable or controversial and obscene or controversial and endangering society. You personally may not like what certain personalities say, but these mainstream hosts generally aren’t touting “hate speak” (what is that, anyway?) and these hosts have millions of loyal listeners and viewers who need soap and toothpaste and laundry detergent (and cars, etc.). In fact, I would make the case that now is the time for advertisers to jump on board with the O’Reillys of the world — as these shows’ listeners and viewers become more dedicated to their convictions in the cause of protecting America’s great freedoms, beginning with the First Amendment. As I sit here in the heart of Flyoverland, the Tipping Point that I see developing is moderate, reasonable Americans being fed up with individual New Yorkers and Hollywood celebrities (who call themselves liberal-thinkers and are anything but) dictating how we ALL should think and behave. — Saint Paul, MN

> No love lost here, but…Who do we get next? All of Fox, ABC, Sharpton, Jackson, Satuday Night Live, Tonight show, Moveon dot org? I guess freedom of speech is fiction not fact. If we are to think this action is correct, then almost every music cd, book and newspaper in America is ready for the fire. — Akron, OH

> I wonder if Mr. Deutsch had called on the carpet his friend Donald Trump for making the ‘prize’ for winning on an Apprentice episode a studio session with Snoop Dog…one of the leaders of race-based “hate music.” — Macungie, PA

> There’s no argument Imus said some things he shouldn’t have said. But if Chris Rock, Richard Pryor or Eddie Murphy stands up and says “nappy-headed hos” at a comedy club, a TV show, no one ever cries foul. Blacks can say crude and rude things about their own race and get away with it. Can we have a Miss White America Beauty Pageant? Nope. But we DO have a Miss Black America Beauty pageant. Television has BET -- the Black Entertainment Television network. But can we launch something similar like: WET (White Entertainment Television Network)? Oops. You’d have African Americans picketing the streets outside WET’s TV studios, CNN would be filled with Rev. Jackson and Sharpton denouncing the new TV network. The NAACP would be filing lawsuits…I think you get the idea here. There’s no argument a double standard clearly exists in America -- you just have to know the rules so you don’t stick your foot in your mouth. Imus got nailed to the cross for a stupid remark, he inserted both feet into his mouth and he got fired for it. Nuff said. Let’s move on. — SANTA FE, NM

> You know what? Donny’s right. Enough nasty, mean spirited yelling and screaming. Talking heads, celebrity fights, reality fighting scenes, fear-oriented newscasts and then violence-oriented shows. It’s no wonder today’s consumer would rather sit at the computer. At least then, they control the content. Trying to watch TV for enjoyment and relaxation is a thing of the past. So, advertisers are moving their money to where it should be: online. — Karen Tripi President, Karen Tripi Associates, NEW YORK, NY

> I agree with the advertisers — why should we have to listen to garbage? I would worry about the extremism of allowing everything and then controlling it all — isn’t there a middle ground? Maybe something called intelligent criteria is missing from all of this mess. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. Next time we hear this garbage, no matter if the originator is black or white, we should be just as strict, including the music we listen to. — MIAMI, FL

> First off…never a big fan of Imus and I don’t care much if he’s on the air or not. But, I hate to see the likes of Sharpton & Jackson looking triumphant over something that really was not that offensive given the nature of today’s pop culture. Sharpton & Jackson have made a business out of fabricated race issues. And neither of them have always been shining examples (Tawana Brawley, Hymietown). In a media culture swimming in hip-hop lingo and gangsta types being celebrated, the use of the term “nappy headed hos” could easily be seen as a white guy trying to sound hip or spoofing his own race (maybe not in Imus’ case). But one of the best ways to get a laugh these days, if you are a white man, is to parody your whiteness by purposely delivering hip-hop phrases with overwhelming “white-bread” tones in your delivery. I think sometimes as we gain diversity in this country, we also gain oversensitivity and misinterpretations of intent. I would like to have seen Imus dismissed over declining ratings, not a poor choice of words. — Springfield, MO

> Donny, I couldn’t agree with you more. Whether nice may or may not be becoming the new black, I think most of us are just plain weary of “celebrities” being given a forum to spew forth whatever pops into their minimally sized brains. Imus, Rush, Stern, Pryor, Murphy, “gangsta” rappers and the rest of this classless class of juvenile delinquents we’ve had to endure in recent years -- I hope you’re right that Imus’ demise means the beginning of the end of these assaults on society. Of course, we’ll always have the ACLU to contend with…since when did “freedom of speech” morph into “freedom to deliberately and pointedly denigrate others for the sake of entertainment and self-promotion?” Speaking of the latter, I’ve long considered that the only reason the shock jocks do what they do is some pathetic need to be in the spotlight, at any cost. Why do children act up? One reason: To get attention. — Elgin, IL

> I think that if advertisers really wanted to be positive, they would have forced IMUS to do community service or donate to a scholarship fund for African American women at Rutgers or something that would affect positive change. Let’s face it, many advertisers don’t buy advertising for programming content, they buy advertising for the listeners, readers or viewers that the program attracts. This is just another way to squelch our First Amendment rights — turn it off if you’re turned off! And, trust me, I hate what he said, but make him do something positive to offset it! — Needham, MA

> I watched with great interest the recent trial of a very popular talk radio host on MSNBC and WFAN ! Mr. Don Imus insulted a University Women’s Basketball Team! Mr. Imus used a very Vulgar Term to describe the women as Prostitutes! The term was created by the Rap Music Community and is Broadcast hourly as accepted content to the Rap Audience! Rap music producers have developed their own semantic jazz and it has been adopted by many African American as well as white Teens as acceptable speech! Mr. Imus has apologized to his audience as well as the Women’s Championship basketball team of African American and White Students! Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, the acknowledged worldwide Watchdogs for the African American Community lit a fire as they usually do and have claimed victory since Don Imus was fired from both Networks! One African American reporter described Jackson and Sharpton as fire fighters who, after the fire is over, then pick the victims’ pockets! To be honest, I think that what got Mr. Imus fired was Advertisers pulling out of the show! Not the flame kindled by Sharpton’s and Jackson’s Diarrhea of the Mouth! Imus was of course wrong since what lives in the gutter should stay in the gutter! Until what walks in the street decides to clean up stand up and walk proudly on the sidewalk! The Team from Rutgers have chosen to walk as the best of our American Youth and commented on the incident as Adults! The Coaches whined, the School Officials whined, but the students exhibited adult behavior. I am sure that in the future, Mr. Imus will Pop up on the WWW, as the Imus in The Morning Video Cast, supported by a fantastic Blog and Social Network Site and we can all enjoy him for 99 Cents! This will restore his freedom of speech and give some great content to IPodders ! — Royal Oak, MI

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