Wednesday, January 26, 2005

What are we thinking?

I was going to write a piece on the English prince Harry's unfortunate decision to go to a costume party wearing Nazi regalia. Thought I'd discuss the questions of how (and whether) we're teaching our youth on the subject of evil. I felt sorry for Harry, it's obvious that he simply didn't "get" what all the furor was about (you should pardon the expression). And that's not surprising. WW2 was old news when I was growing up, by now it's not that far removed from the Roman Empire in the minds of teens and young adults. That's where our failure jumps in, we're simply not doing a very good job of teaching about evil.
But Harry gets the pass because something even more offensive, something even more idiotic has taken front page. WQHT in NYC ran a "parody song" on its morning show this past Monday (1/24) that made racial jokes about the people hit by the tsunami, made jokes about child slavery and people watching their mothers die (Reuters story is linked below) The following day the station aired an apology to "...anyone who was offended". They should offer free psychiatric exams for anyone who WASN'T offended! Here's my problems with this incident:

These were adults There's no excuses these are grown ups, you know the folks who are supposed to be responsible and know what's going on. And it's not just a single person, the morning show "team" was something like 7 people. Apparently none of them said, "Hey, maybe this isn't a great idea". In fact the lead DJ was also the Program Director (a management position that usually has oversight of all on air stuff. She was the boss and responsible. She and the rest of her castmates are currently on indefinite suspension)

The state of the media This bugs me particularly because it's radio, where I made my living for 19.5 years. The station is yet another one that has sold its soul and social responsibility to the "shock jock" concept. This is the most loathsome disease that is attacking the medium that I love to this day. Being "shocking" is in fact a license to not care about anything and anyone. I was a morning jock for something like 17 years, and there were days when I ticked off some of my listeners with my bits. But the purpose was never to shock, it was never a situation where I had to say "OK, how do I top that?" The idea was always to make folks think. Thinking is the last thing on the agenda of a shock jock. A shock jock (or talk show host or whatever) is an anti-intellectual bully.

This next bit is NOT politically correct but it bugs me
This was done by folks who suffered at the hands of racism It's the racist nonsense that gets me. I'm sorry but shouldn't this be an area that Black America simply draws the line? Maybe I'm holding my brothers and sisters of color to too high a standard but they KNOW what racism feels like so why become party to that madness? Again maybe it's unfair and unreasonable but I expect better.

Finally there's Where's the common sense? How do you look yourself in the mirror and say "Hey, I think the suffering of these people is funny! And I mean FUNNY! We should take the time to write the lyrics (and maybe the tune) get into the studio record it and put it on the air. Yeah let's make some money on suffering!" How do you look yourself in the eye?

No there's no doubt about it. We've failed in our teaching on the subject of evil. Maybe it's time we started thinking about changing that.



Da Youth Guy said...

Well here's an oops for you. With the new format the links are now connected with the TITLE of the blog entry. So the links are now above, not below.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...I'd take one exception to your thoughts about "the song", my friend. Those were not "adults."

Yeah, yeah, I know, in the eyes of the law and the Julian calendar, they are past the age of majority. But "adult" carries with it the thought of no longer thinking or acting as a child...and what they did was just as pleasure-seeking, as irresponsible, and as stupid as any 8 year old, which is the level to which it seems most humor has sunk, these days.

(Dear God - somewhere along the way, I turned into a hideous combination of my father and my senior high-year English teacher. Yeesh. I hate it - but I'll stick by it, too.)