It's About Time To Declare Imus Overkill
I can hardly bring myself to do this, but I have finally decided to touch on the Don Imus scandal. I thought I had successfully outlasted the "Imus Ordeal" takeover over of American media, but its seemingly inexpicable ability to remain "pertinent" news for two-plus weeks has proved too much for me.
On Wednesday I opened to the Arts section of the New York Times and found a frontpage feauture article discussing the Imus calamity and the changes it may/may not lead to in modern Hip-Hop. Apparently, among all the bonehead innapropriate things that public figures have said and continue to say, Imus' comments were the ones collectively decided upon to trigger a social discussion on indecency in public speech.
In truth, I am still conflicted about the ubiquity of the "Imus Ordeal" in the media, as well as how it has been augmented to encompass a deeper social concern.
One one hand, I am tempted to group the Imus story in the category of over-done sensational journalism — the Elian Gonzales saga, the Laci Peterson murder scandal, and Anna Nicole Smith's death immediately come to mind — however I do not discount that it does have some journalistic value. (My one gripe about this is that he was in fact a "shock jock," which pretty much means his job was to be controversial.) Nevertheless, he is a public figure and his blatantly sexist and racist comments in a public forum certainly should garner a certain level of media attention. I must point out, however, that former NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway's recent anti-gay rant on a Miami radio station didn't make nearly as many headlines. Check out ESPN's coverage of that incident to compare its offensiveness.
Still, considering the interest the public has shown in the story, I must commend the New York Times and other high-quality news sources like Anderson Cooper's CNN program for resisting the temptation to beat the story into the ground, and instead opting to guide it into a more substantive arena for pubic discourse. The Times' piece on the double-standard in the use of language we offer to our rap stars is an excellent example of this.
Truthfully, though, I am ready for a new scandal to eat up the airwaves and columns so I don't have to see Imus' mug again for a long time. There is a reason, afterall, that he was in radio.