Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Lenny Bruce Effect.

Years ago, I bought a copy of Lenny Bruce's autobiography, How to Talk Dirty and Influence People. I was reminded of one episode the other day: Bruce was on trial -- in San Francisco, I think -- for using what was then considered an obscenity in his nightclub routine. When writing about the trial, Bruce noted that people in the court (judges, attorneys, etc.) were repeating the banned word with great glee every time it popped up in testimony.

Lenny was surely exaggerating a bit for dramatic purposes, but the same effect is easy to see in the Don Imus controversy.

If I was Imus (a frightening thought) I'd be sending thank-you notes to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Think about it: Imus probably thought he was broadcasting to his usual audience on radio -- a couple dozen, judging from his show's ratings -- plus another handful who happened to be watching him on MSNBC, when up popped the devil! (so to speak).

Have you ever heard Imus? How this guy has kept his job over the years is a total mystery. When he's not mumbling, his patter is full of unfinished sentences that make no sense and disjointed musings that make one wonder how many of his brain cells still function.

PARENTHETICAL THOUGHT-CUM-DISCLAIMER: Several years ago I was spending some time in the East and on several occasions had to drive from where I was staying into New York City. I caught Imus on the radio a couple of times and managed to stick with his show for maybe 10 minutes at a time before switching stations. That's my total experience as an Imus listener. People more familiar with him say he's worse now.

So here's this guy whose regular listeners wouldn't fill a city transit bus making headlines all over the country. You can't buy publicity like that!

And his incredibly stupid comment showed up in every news report and every commentary. No one was content to report that it was dumb and derogatory; no, all had to repeat it. How many of those critics were snickering to themselves as they typed/spoke his words?

A lot, I'll bet.

(As in Lenny Bruce's trial: "Did you hear him, your honor? He said blah-blah-blah." "Man, how could he say blah-blah-blah?" "He probably enjoys saying blah-blah-blah!" "Only a pervert would say blah-blah-blah." And so on.)

While we're on the subject, I suggest that Messrs. Jackson and Sharpton send thank-you notes to Imus as well. Without idiots like him, they wouldn't have any reason to jump into the spotlight again. And every Imus-type incident helps them distance themselves from their own racist remarks and questionable past actions.

It's a win-win situation.

The only real losers, to me, are the members of the Rutgers womens' basketball team who were the objects of Imus's cheap crack. For them to say their joy at playing in a national championship was "taken away" by a brain-dead guy sitting in a broadcasting studio talking to a double-digit-size audience is pretty lame. In a situation like this, one is a "victim" only if they choose to be.

And Imus? He gets two weeks off and then will (probably) be back in the same old chair. He can afford it.

The best way to deal with his brand of idiocy is to ignore it. Which is what the vast majority of the population was doing until Jesse, Al and every news outlet in the known universe jumped on it.


kelly said...

I agree the ; if the basketball team lets a stupid remark take away their joy of winning then they are just playing the victim. Why not rise above the remark and not let it 'take your joy' so to speak.

I have never listen to the guy...I don't even know what he talks about but he did get alot of publicity and a nice vacation out of the deal.

betty said...

I'm with you. I don't know how Imus kept his job as long as he has. He's a jerk. I tried to watch him a few times and just said no way. I don't like him any more than I do Howard Stern. Some of the things they say are outrageous.

lowandslow said...

Remember the old saying, "There's no such thing as 'bad' publicity." Imus is now on the radar. I think he's an idiot, and not just because of this incident. But tell me, why did he apologize to Jesse and Al? They must have heard there was a camera nearby and couldn't resist the opportunity to get their mugs on TV.

John said...

The university grabbed their share of publicity too. It was a win win win win situation. The TN coach would never have said what rutgers' coach said. Maybe that was the difference in the ourcome.
If Al and Jesse and that coach really cared about the girls, they would have made a big deal of their accomplishments and ignored the comment.
Screw basketball anyway. I never liked all the squeaky noise it makes.

picaboblu said...

Shocked outrage has only served to make sure his remarks get repeated over and over, he gets the spotlight, Jesse/Al get the spotlight, yada yada.

Some people are just idiots, why can't we just ignore them.

And another thing, isn't all this apologizing (Imus, Gibson, . . .) kind of like the 5 year old who does what he wants because he knows all he has to do is mutter "sorry" to someone?