Monday, May 14, 2007

The Clean Air Act


One of the most unintentionally hysterical movie lines in history comes courtesy of that classic Tom Cruise vehicle Top Gun. Not only does the film stand as irrefutable proof that Cruise is not, in fact, gayer than Carson Kressley blowing himself, it also gave us this little gem of Hollywood screenwriting brilliance:

As Tom Cruise's character prepares to fly his hard, phallic F-14 within spitting distance of the skyward-jutting, phallic control tower, he's warned by his radar-man "Goose" -- played by Anthony Edwards -- that his actions are unauthorized and therefore a bad idea.

"Uh, you can't do that Maverick," says Goose.

Right -- because if you do, they'll, uh well, change your name to something that doesn't suggest an impetuous willingness to ignore orders.

This is what I think of whenever I hear the following words come out of a news anchor's mouth or see them splashed across a front page: "Shock Jock (fill-in name) is in big trouble today for (fill-in something offensive said or done on-air)."

Obviously, this particular brand of disengenuous outrage has received plenty of attention lately thanks to the whole Don Imus fiasco; in fact, Imus himself is now fighting for the money remaining in his canceled CBS contract by asserting that his bosses indeed knew exactly what they were in for when they put him on the air in the first place.

They don't call them Shock Jocks because they have issues with static electricity.

Which brings us to Opie and Anthony.

When I made the decision to leave New York City about four years ago (this is my second tour-of-duty in Gotham) one of the features of life here that I knew I'd miss the most was the Opie & Anthony show. At that time, it was on WNEW FM and was a staple of my weekday afternoon. It was rude, offensive, juvenile -- and the funniest goddamned thing on the air. When O & A were finally banished by a torch wielding mob for staging an on-air stunt in which a couple had sex in St. Patrick's Cathedral -- which was hilarious by the way -- I figured they'd remain radioactive for at least a good five years.

Then they turned up on XM Satellite Radio, and I rejoiced; the gloves were off.

Since then, Opie & Anthony have actually managed to steer clear of any real controversy. Their show remains funny, and at times surprisingly insightful. They've even managed to get a watered-down version of it simulcasted on terrestrial radio.

But it was only a matter of time.

Now, once again, the usual suspects are screaming for the heads of O & A.

The offense this time: why, nothing less than suborning the rape of our own beloved Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice (cue the gasps).

Basically, during their show last Thursday, a guy known as Homeless Charlie went on a minute-long rant about how he'd "love to fuck that bitch," (that would be Condi), how he also wanted to do the same to Laura Bush, and how the Queen of England shouldn't have been allowed into the U.S. because she has a horse-face and was on the losing side of the Revolutionary War to begin with.

It was admittedly only funny for its audacity in skewering such sacred authority figures; I'm always a fan of that. Needless to say though, you could've counted the seconds before the mushroom cloud of bullshit outrage appeared on the horizon. By Thursday afternoon, the line of perpetually aggrieved stretched around the block, ready to once again grab a collective torch and demand mob justice. Al Sharpton -- who, it should be noted, was also one of the targets of Homeless Charlie's venom -- decried the remarks as ugly and hurtful, but stopped short of again demanding the outright censorship of a nationally-broadcasted radio show; the cynical might point out that in this case, while Opie & Anthony are white -- traditionally, Sharpton's favorite straw men -- Charlie himself is black, and therefore in possession of a genetic get-out-of-jail-free card as far as Big Al is concerned.

Those who truly do spout arguably dangerous and occasionally outright false invective over the airwaves were also happy to assume the laughable position of moral authority and join in the pile-on. Vaudevillian buffoons like Glenn Beck and Neal Boortz did somersaults of logic in an attempt to have it both ways -- blaming the rise of such "garbage" on the time-honored boogeyman of leftist moral-relativism while at the same time wrapping their own on-air race-baiting and fear-mongering in the comfortable cloak of the American flag; the argument against such nonsense, all but bulletproof: Opie & Anthony do comedy, Beck and Boortz don't -- at least not intentionally.

For anyone who wondered quietly if the unnecessary firing of Don Imus and the surreal pandemonium which led to it would eventually create a dangerous chilling effect across our airwaves -- wonder no more; your worst fears have been realized. Those who successfully silenced a powerful voice in broadcasting -- dumb, but powerful -- have been emboldened by their victory. Now, like a kid with a new toy, the ones for whom even the slightest offense is unacceptable -- regardless of the context -- have declared themselves rulers of America's on-air sandbox.

What you find funny isn't important; if it offends someone, it simply cannot stand -- for the good of everyone.

Even if you've chosen to pay for the privilege of hearing adult language and, occasionally, juvenile comedy -- as those subjected to the offending Opie & Anthony bit had -- it doesn't matter.

If someone, anyone, is offended by it -- it has to go.

Within the past couple of days, CBS Radio -- in keeping with its proud tradition of willfully allowing its spine to go flaccid at even the slightest hint of pressure -- announced its decision to cancel The Dog House, with JV and Elvis. The reason: the show's hosts staged a prank phone call to a Chinese restaurant which infuriated the Asian-American community.

Jeanette Wang of the Organization of Chinese-Americans is already calling it a "victory... for all." I have a feeling that most of JV and Elvis's listeners don't feel that way.

Whether or not they, or Opie & Anthony, can genuinely be called "mavericks," I'm not quite sure -- but I know that the world would be a very boring, and in this case very frightening place, if everyone followed the rules.

(The Nth Degree -- 11.21.06)

(On the Offensive -- 10.15.06)

18 comments:

Emily Blake said...

I was already traumatized for life by exposure to the sight of Janet Jackson's bare breast. This might send me over the edge.

Beleria said...

What about me? What if it offends me that these douchebags are stopping my type of humor from reaching my ears. What are they going to do to appease that offense? Nothing, they are a nothing but hypocrites. They pretend its because it offends other but really THEY are the ones who take offense to the jokes/music/games/whatever... and when they get the chance to get rid of it they do. Where's my majority vote? Come on Democracy-get off your lazy ass and help me out.

RottweilerTOM said...

Well done Chez. I figured your "For Mom" posting was personal and therefore off-limits to your readership to add commentary. Of course, this one I can not pass by.

You saw the same show this morning on CNN's Morning show when Beck started coming up with his usual idiotic analysis. Is there any reason why they put Nancy Grace and this doucebag back to back on CNN's other channel?

Nonetheless, WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON WITH OUR AIRWAY LIBERTIES, GOD DAMN IT!!!!

AAAAAHH AAGH AAAAAHHHH AAAAGH!!! said...

You said WANG...

RottweilerTOM said...

Ok how did Beleria know I wanted to use the choice word, douchebag, but like a totally dick, my word was mispelled but hers/his wasn't.

Kell said...

During last years Australian series of Big Brother viewers of the "up late show" witnessed one of the female house mates getting "turkey slapped" by a male house mate.
(You can look up the meaning if you don't know. Now that I know your mum reads this I feel strange about going into turkey slapping discriptions) A few woosers who saw the program were outraged and caused a huge stir, so much so that even our idiotic prime minister called for the "stupid show" to be taken off air. Granted it is a stupid show but lets just take a look at the program in question "big brother up-late".
Its uncensored footage of the family friendly show which airs in the family friendly time slot of 7pm.
Shown at 11 o'clock at night most who watch it will admit that its not because of the witty conversations but for the often full frontal nudity and nude bedroom antics.
To think that anyone (and their children) watching this show were unexpectedly offended by nudity and sexual acts is a joke. Same goes for the morons who listen to "shock jocks" and scream for blood when something controversial is said. It boggles the damn mind.

Ps: Happily the stupid big brother program was not taken off air because of the turkey slapping incident. The ratings went through the roof once the prime minister weighed in so the network milked the whole debate for all it was worth.
Flailing ratings this season mean the "stupid program" might be taken off air soon anyway- thankfully not because its offended anyone but because our prime minister was right to begin with, because its stupid.

Harris said...

I can't decide what about these situations I dislike most: That it allows the perpetually aggrieved to claim more time and attention or that douchebags like Opie and Anthony get to play the role of First Amendment heroes beset by the politically correct and overly sensitive. At least when Larry Flynt did that I eventually got to see women peeing on each other.

namron said...

How I long for the days when Eugene Debs, John Reid, Emma Goldman, John Scopes, Daniel and Phillip Berrigan, Benjamin Spock, and the Hollywood blacklisteds were the victims of first amendment violations. Defense of freedom of speech just felt so much better. Let's change the maxim
"I detest your speech but I will defend to the death your right to speak" to "Your an incredible asshole who, in a perfect world, would have been lobotomized shortly after kindergarten, but in order to keep Big Brother's electrodes off of my gonads, I will defend to the death your right to be an asshole."
The 60's were a whole lot more fun than this decade. Sigh!

st3nz said...

Come on, you're defending this incident? The fact that they were laughing about women being raped and the horror they would be experiencing? You don't joke about rape - there's way too much of it happening to be funny.

You can still be a shock jock without resorting to "humor" like this. If your show depends on racism and violent misogyny for laughs, you need a new line of work.

Beleria said...

Because rottweilertom, the word Douchebag percfectly fits the people we are discussing. I tend to agree with namron here-There are times when people should just realize that some things are good and some are bad-we can't simply get rid of the bad...we have to learn to deal with it.

P.S. Beleria=Male.

Jayne said...

I would certainly be angry about it if they HAD been joking around about rape, but it's still their right to do so.

But they weren't. Listen to it- they never said the word. They basically said that the only way Condi would have sex with him is if he had to hold her down. (Technically, that's a compliment to her.)

Jonny V said...

Shock jocks are gay. Who cares if they're in trouble. If your day is going to be that much gloomier because you can't listen to people talk about raping women and pornstars farting on midgets, just do us all a favor and walk in front of a train. Oh woe is you...gimme a fucking break

RottweilerTOM said...

Mr. Beleria, I was applying my douchebag analysis to Glenn Beck, so I think nothing changes. I agree with Namron, so therefore I agree with you. Remember, it takes a village. However, I agree with Jayne too so I guess I go straight to the head of the class.

However,ST3NZ your analyis is absurd.

UneFemmePlusCourageuse said...

Here's the thing-- while I am very much for freedom of speech, it does sicken and anger me that they would make the idea of raping two women into a joke. Therefore, I'm not so sure I can agree with you on this.

Chez said...

Femme --

They said nothing about rape. What happened is what always happens: news is viral -- once a buzzword shows up in a story, that word will turns up, unchecked, in almost every story on every network and in every newspaper subsequently. It'll be parroted until someone thinks to go back and listen for themselves, and even then, if a seed has already been planted in his or her head about what's being heard -- that's tough to shake. You get into that mindset and it's tough to snap out of it -- particularly when there's a manager standing over your shoulder pushing you to "punch it up."

Bobby the Blue Baxojayz said...

They suck. I hope they get canned.

Chez said...

Well, since you argued your point with such eloquence...

Paul said...

There are so many topics to touch on in this blog, where do I start?Honestly, I have never heard a single minute of O&A To be honest again, the only times when I have heard of them is this episode and the sex in church stunt. With that being said, what has happened to simply turning the channel?? Or, in this case, not subscribing at all? I believe people forget they have the option of NOT LISTENING. If something offends you, avoid it. If you are afraid it will corrupt your children, don't let them listen to it. The only shock jock I have ever heard is Howard Stern, and after a little bit I found it wasn't my cup of tea so I found something else to listen to, end of story.

Same thing with Don Imus...I caught his show a few times on MSNBC, didn't like it, turned the channel. Amazing how easy that is, eh? The thing that bothered me with Imus was when I caught Countdown and Keith Olbermann interviewed Jesse Jackson. All Jackson could keep repeating was how all these stations didn't have black hosts and how reprehensible Imus was....but when confronted with radio people who spew truly hateful speech on a daily basis (Mr. Oxycontin) he blew it off completely, not even answering.

Don't get me started with Glenn Beck...he's a tool, we're talking Craftsman tool. Leftist-moral relatism?? They never have any problems with guns and violence portrayed in movies. What has killed more people sex/porn or guns?