Friday, April 13, 2007

His skin was pale and his eye was odd

When I was maybe 12 or 13, I stumbled on "Imus in the Morning" while establishing my before-school routine (I used to get up really early, so I had lots of time to kill before school). I tuned in for maybe a couple of weeks, because I had never heard anything quite like it, and I thought it made me quite the grown-up, to be listening to morning talk radio. But the novelty soon wore off, and I realized that too much of what I heard was at best sophomoric and at worst reprehensible, and too little was entertaining. So that was the end of my Imus-listening career. Since then I have heard his name now and then, and I'm always mildly surprised: adults still listen to that show?

I don't have any particularly strong feelings about this recent brouhaha; I've been avoiding most of the coverage, mainly because I've been in an office all week and can't watch online video. Based on the little I've heard, I'd say he certainly deserved to be called out -- but I suspect what he said in that particular show is not such a huge departure from what he's been saying for years, so his bewilderment may be justifiable. And punishing Imus doesn't really do anything about the real problem, which is the apparently significant number of people who tuned in to hear him (and his many colleagues/imitators) say such things on a regular basis. But I am hoping that we've come to the end of his public shaming, because however much it might trouble me that there are people who choose to listen to Imus, it troubles me far more that we are all now being forced to look at Imus. (One of those free subway newspapers had a headline today that would have made me chuckle -- "Imus in the Mourning" -- had it not been paired with a photo of the man himself, which made me recoil.) "That is not a handsome man," I said the other day, employing litotes, when Imus came up on TV. My fiance replied matter-of-factly, "Yeah, he looks like he's been disinterred." I wish I could convey the exact tone with which he said that, because it was so funny; he said it just like you would confirm any basic fact, like "Yeah, he's simulcast on MSNBC" or "Yeah, he's a vegetarian." And I wish I could take credit for that comparison, because it is so perfectly descriptive, and incidentally not a bad metaphor for what-all is happening these days. But anyway, I'd like to stop looking at him now, if you don't mind, media outlets, because another day of this and I'm going to start having nightmares about Zombie Imus.

P.S. Just now I received a spam email (or press release?) with this subject line: "6:30am King Of All Blacks Asks Questions." There's a king of all blacks? Who knew? And why has it taken him this long to speak up?

ETA: I have been informed that this "King" is a Howard Stern character. Here I thought it was just a happy string of words in a spam subject line.

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