Tuesday, April 24, 2007

P2W Purity Watch: Imus + Girls Gone Wild

It seems to me lately that this country is taking a decided swing toward decorum and let me be the first to say I am happy as a lark. People are finally standing up against the insidious racism and misogyny that permeates pop culture. The chickens are coming home to roost for some people and it has been a long time coming.

For instance, there is Don Imus, the original "shock jock". I must confess I've never listened to his show for more than 4.5 seconds; his voice grates on my nerves and his content is painful to absorb. However, I have heard enough of what he says (mostly via the Howard Stern terrestrial radio show) to know that he is self-serving and nasty. Here is a man who bullied many in the press and in Washington to believe that they lacked credibility if they wouldn't face him as a target in his studio. This man said hateful things and accused people who spoke out against him as lacking a sense of humor.

Well, count me in the group that lacks a sense of humor. Frankly, I'm tired of the barrage of negative language toward African-Americans and women. I've witnessed racism and sexism and tried to let it pass through me. But I can't help absorbing some of it as if I were a filter feeder; hateful flecks of negativity have really built up in me against my will. I'm not going to put up with it anymore.

At first I was alarmed that Imus lost his job over something he said. I believed that it was much ado about nothing. I worried about our First Amendment Rights. I also thought the coach of the Rutgers team should have encouraged the girls to let it go and move on. Why direct any energy toward anything that man says? I discovered, after reading Newsweek, that that indeed was the coach's original advice, but the girls couldn't move past it. They kept wondering, "Why us?" Why them indeed. It was a random act of sexism and racism in the name of a quip. There was no reason to single out this team for punishment. But, when there are no consequences, there are no reasons not to pick off everyone who passess through the sights of your sniper rifle of humor, right?

And then there's the Girls Gone Wild guy, Joe Francis. I'll have you know that I felt a sense of glee when I heard he was in trouble. As a mother of two girls, I shudder at what effect this man's product would have on my daughters. There seemed to be no one crying out against him for a long time. I remember the first time I saw an ad for one of his videos. I felt my insides crumple as I saw girls who were either coaxed or who happily obliged to show their bodies off for a guy with a camera. But what can you do? These women were of age...or they seemed to be.
Now according to Yahoo!, Joe Francis has been sued for some 70 million dollars by girls who were filmed by him when they were underage. He claims they lied about their ages and threw a hissy fit when they were trying to settle matters, flinging obscenities at them. He was held in contempt and sentenced to 35 days in jail. According to the story:

"His attorney, Jan Handzlik, said being in jail had changed his client.

'He is a different man. Undoubtedly he is a different man,' he said."


Let's hope both these men are are different men as a result of the recent turn of events in their lives. Maybe, as is already underway in the Imus camp, these men will speak out against racism and mysogyny, under the "Only Nixon could go to China," school of thought. I think Imus will have a better chance of success. So far, he is the only one of the two not to act up after the tide turned against him. Also, he has influence over a large number of people who participate in backstage racism, or that kind of racism that can flourish when white people are hanging out with white people. I have hopes that Imus could be a voice for change, now that his nuts are in a ringer and he can take this opportunity to atone for his years of being nasty. The other guy? Not so much.

Only time will tell and I will keep my eyes on the matter; after all, this new wave of raving/misbehaving/apology/rehab/repentence was started by Mel Gibson and his anti-semetic rant. I told you it was all his fault.

13 comments:

  1. Ugh, those guys are gross. I especially can't stand the greasy Joe Francis.

    Yes, we can fling our boobies and call it feminism but I think it's misleading. Yes, fine pay your way through law school while stripping. But it's upsetting to hear women say, "Poor girl was abused, so of course she became a stripper!" without realizing that if girls weren't encouraged to strip and flash, guys wouldn't think that was a the norm, and maybe the abuse/victimization would not happen as often.

    God, I'm rambling like a lunatic and I'm not even sure what I'm trying to say anymore, except I like what you wrote and how you said it.

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  2. I have mixed emotions about this. There is no doubt that the Rutgers girls did not deserve what they got from Imus. It's just that I'm sure there have been times where I have said something mean to someone that was unwarranted. I like to follow the whole "he who is without guilt..." mantra. This is a rare case where I rely on the free market to help sort things out. In this case it worked. There was a backlash and Imus saw what his actions resulted in. I just wish that there was more of this when it comes to what I consider substantive issues, like war and how we treat those living in need.

    As far as the GGW guy, it sucks that he's been able to exploit so many, but ultimately people have free will. If he broke laws, he should be punished, but there is desire to buy his stuff and a willingness to be filmed. I don't know what you do about that. Plus there is the whole issue of the naked body being considered a dirty thing that needs to be hidden that I have some qualms about, but that is a whole other discussion.

    Sorry if this irks people. I mean no offense and can certainly understand why this stuff is upsetting.

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  3. Chris: Imus didn't say these kinds of things once and a while, though, he made a habit of being an "equal opportunity maligner". It's not a matter of a slip of the tongue, in my opinion. It's intentional and malicious.

    I think race and gender issues are substantive issues. As far as war goes, I think the sleeping giant of public opinion is waking up, especially with presidential elections on the way. Hopefully, people will start fussing like this about the war. Then again, most people these days seem to be pretty cranky about the war, but the administration doesn't seem to be listening.

    I'm not so worried about the naked body being dirty...it's the whole "show me your tits" mentality, that girls are using their bodies as the only way to get any kind of validation and attention. I'm not against nudity, per se. I'm against exploitation. But you're right; it's a free country. Maybe someday people will lose interest in this kind of thing and ventures like GGW will fade away.

    Tanya: I think you make sense. I think the whole industry is unhealthy and preys on girls who have no sense of self worth.

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  4. Flannery, thank you. I just inhaled an Oreo McFlurry and now must go sleep it off.

    :)

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  5. Flann- I agree. Imus said bad stuff many times and it may have been intentional and malicious. I think only Don Imus knows in his heart for certain. While it's too bad that it took so long for people to realize his true colors, I still have a problem, personally, with judging him. This is by no means an endorsement of the things he said. Race and gender are absolutely substantive issues, but in my opinion, this one slur is but a small part of the bigger picture. I noticed that a bunch of pundits said things like "the positive thing to come of this is that now we can have an open debate about race and gender", as if we couldn't before. Notice the debate has kinda slid off the radar along with the Imus story, at least from what I can tell.

    Unfortunately, I don't think men wanting to see naked breasts is going to stop anytime soon. I'm not trying to be a dick, just trying to be realistic.

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  6. I like what Ron White has to say about women's breasts:

    "If you've seen one set, you pretty much want to see the rest..."

    Oh, and I'm happy to judge Imus.

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  7. I never listen to Imus either, so I can't really comment on how much of a jerk he is. I do know that all of this started because he initially said something about the basketball players being tough with tattoos and such, and the producer of the show said they were "hardcore hos" to which Imus replied with the "nappy headed hos" comment. I can't figure out why no one is screaming about the producer. I guess it's because he's not a big media personality. And the comments were out of line, but it's really blown up to insane proportions. One of the girls actually said she was scarred for life. Scarred by one remark from a grizzled old wannabe cowboy? Come on. I've been called much worse and my life isn't over. And then when Snoop Dogg defended how rappers use the word "ho" in proper context within their songs, I just wanted to tape my ears shut so I wouldn't have to hear about this anymore.

    As for Joe Francis, ugh. He's just a disgusting little opportunist. Maybe he'll be forced to perform stripteases and masturbate in front of all the other prisoners. I guess that would be fitting punishment. He'd better hope that's all they do to him!

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  8. Was happy to hear Imus got the boot and ECSTATIC to hear Joe Francis was jailed. Effers. Both of 'em.

    People need to be accountable for their actions...even when the pain they inflict is emotional.

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  9. Beckeye - It does sound silly that a Rutgers player would say they were scared for their life, but it's true. The sports area of the blogesphere still talks about this and it been widely reported that they all have been recieving death threats from crazed Imus fans.

    I go back and forth on Imus. Clearly he was fired not for his comments but the loss of advertisements for his show. But I find it concerning our urge to silence this type of speech rather than debate it.

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  10. Phil: According to Newseek, NBC's employees pulled together and demanded Imus be fired. I'm sure losing advertising had something to do with it, but outrage throughout the staff finally did him in.

    I think it's important to clean up our behavior every now and then. I'm all for freedom of speech, but I don't think for a moment that that means everyone can say what they want anytime. I don't think society could hold together if we were all saying nasty things to one another, or rather one group in the majority were constantly sniping at other minorities. It's verbally abusive and causes all kinds of problems.

    Demeaning others can lead to dehumanizing them. And dehumanizing a sector of the population gives the powers that be opportunities to treat them like animals or worse. It's important to call foul at this point and reevaluate what's socially acceptable, lest we go the way of Nazi Germany.

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  11. Hey Phil, I'm not surprised these girls received death threats from crazy Imus lovers, but I said one of the girls said his remarks scarred her for life. That was what I found a little crazy. But I suppose if she's talking about all the fallout from this, and not just the comment, then I guess I can understand that.

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  12. Beckeye - Pardon my misread, I'm stupid that way.

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  13. I think a lot of this whole mess is in the individual perspective. Because race and gender and words mean something different to everyone, it's hard to come to an agreement on these kinds of things. Example, seeing GGW as mysogynistic versus seeing GGW as something that people have to buy on video because flashing tits doesn't happen that way in real life. AND it's also edited, so you're only seeing the "cream of the crop", no pun intended. If a girl knows better, crap like this doesn't have to become an influence.

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