That’s some rough girls from Rutgers . . . Man, they got tattoos . . . That’s some nappy-headed hos there, I’m going to tell you that now.”
So said girly headed Don Imus about the Rutgers University basketball team consisting of 8 black and 2 white women in his televised radio show last Wednesday.
Now he faces being kicked off the air by none other than ratings challenged MSNBC, the TV network owned by NBC, and the radio station owned by CBS.
Is this nothing but a storm in a teacup? Not at all. This is about promotion of a show, 2 networks, and hundreds of personalities, including Imus and the Rev. Al Sharpton, cartoonlike, all spilling over the edges of the bandwagon together. To get us excited, and make them all more watchable, and change the subject from eternal politics or maybe not.
I have written before about the divide between funny and serious in a related situation where things got turned around.
2005 Knievel case decision
I pointed out that what is amusing is to observe how actors and other public people and yes the unpredictable courts constantly straddle the fence of this divide, hoping to get the best of both worlds. We say something in a kidding fashion, and the target decides to treat the remark as serious. And yet sometimes we say the funny bit in order to be taken seriously and get ignored (like Al Franken). Note that the 9th. Circuit did exactly that in the Knievel case, the majority finding humor and denying his claim against a network.
No fair, Larry David dares to do jokes about minorities, so does Mel Brooks, so does Robin Williams, so does Howard Stern, so does Ricky Gervais, so do the Monty Pythons, well, sort of. “Fun with gays!” The trick is to do a knowing wink, a nudge nudge, a “just kidding” sign. And black comedians don’t even bother with that.
Perhaps the lesson here is that unless you are a card carrying comedian, stay away! Comedy is hard.
Next day
It’s over. No sponsors = No TV and no radio. R.I.P, Donald. The hardest part is having to listen to the wailing of the holier high priests of NBC and CBS. Well, now Don can at last get a haircut.