Saturday, April 14, 2007

Call me "shorty," and I'll fire you!

Not to beat Don Imus with a dead horse (but come on--how much fun would that be?), but I did want to say something else about the issue. Yes, there's a double standard at play, in that not everyone using offensive terms gets chastised the same way. However, the difference between Don using "ho" and rappers calling women "bitches" and "hos" is that Don used a disrespectful term (and good Lord, let's not forget "nappy-headed," as Anita pointed out--I think I'm more aghast at that term than "ho") over public airwaves. To hear most of the offensive terms used in songs, you have to buy the CD, although I realize plenty slip by on some radio stations and in music videos on TV. As I haven't watched a music video since approximately 1987, I wouldn't know. I don't mean the medium or forum in which something is said should be used as a moral yardstick, but in terms of whether firing someone is justified, it could make a difference. Possibly.

Let's be honest, though: Don was fired not because he used an offensive term, but because sponsors were pulling ads from his show. Money talks, and no way was MSNBC going to lose that much money. So applying the same "punishment" to others who use offensive terms is difficult. How are you going to "fire" Mel Gibson or Michael Richards? As a movie or TV producer, you can decide not to hire them, of course, and as a consumer, you can always refuse to watch whatever TV show or movie they're involved in. I don't know about Mel, but I suspect Michael Richards's career is dead in the water, anyway.

I'm still surprised there weren't any major repercussions for Isaiah Washington. Did any sponsors threaten to pull commercials from Grey's Anatomy? I don't recall hearing about many people threatening to stop watching the show, either (but that's probably because they HAVE to know what's going to happen after George and Izzy sleeping together). What bothers me is that his use of "faggot" was motivated by hate, whereas Don was downright ignorant. Not that ignorance is an excuse, but hate-filled epithets seem worse somehow. I don't know. Being that ignorant is pretty appalling, too!

So that's my 42 cents worth on the topic. Should have been 2 cents, but I'm incredibly wordy.