Friday, April 13, 2007

Thank you for earning Don Imus a bigger paycheck!

Note: The following exchange is purely fictional - but probably accurate.

Memo to: Don Imus

From: Your Agent

Hey Don. You're program is really staring to slide, dude. Some people remember you as the number 1 DJ in New York BEFORE Howard Stern. The rest either don't care anymore or don't even know who you are. Time to step up to the plate and piss somebody off. Oh, by the way, your contract is due for renegotioation next year. Better make it something racial; you've never had a good cross sectional demographic.

See you in the press clippings buddy.


Benjamin Freakin Franklin.

As a former disc jockey and news reporter, I want to call your attention to one very important element at the center of this whole stupid firestorm: PUBLICITY. Celebrities must keep their name in the public frey and if they have to create a little controversy every once in a while, then so be it.

To paraphrase my former news director, "If Angelina Jolie goes for a nude swim in the town square fountain; that's not news. If the Mayor does it; THAT"S news." One is seeking publicity, the other is a misguided representative of the community and local government who's actions have a direct bearing on his office, the law, and other civil matters. However, the media of today see this whole concept inverted- because it makes them money.

Don't worry about poor unemployed Don Imus. He will be back on the air soon enough and his ratings will temporarily soar. As a bonus, the advertising fee for a 30 second commercial spot on the debut broadcast will probably double.

You should always admonish yourself for paying attention when a celebrity makes big news. They are just like urban myths and e mail scams; the only power they have is given to them by way of attention and curiosity. And in almost every circumstance, it's a waste of time and attention.

I think the concept of freedom of speech has been pulled down from it's lofty origins and desecrated with big steaming piles of pride and greed. It's no longer about getting a message out to the public to sway hearts and minds on policy, social causes, or awareness of government injustice. It's now more about "What can I get away with?" Or in Imus' case: "My old routine is just that- old. I need to keep shocking people or they get bored, and what was shocking yesterday just won't cut it today."

Increasingly our freedoms have become slaves to the power of economics. Religion, press, assembly, speech, even the right to bare arms- if you call it a freedom someone else has found a way to profit from it.

Here is my 21st century motto for what we commonly refer to as the Right to Free Speech:

"Listen at your own risk."

If you'll think deeply about that one for a while, I think you'll find some sad truth to it.

Now, piss off.


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