For the past few months we have seen, non stop, the national fascination of a woman whose fame revolved around her stripping, seducing a rich old man, and having sex with enough men to bring into question the paternity of her child. When they revealed the real father, the response was as though American Idol had been replaced by a new reality show . . . American Daddy.
Joe Francis, voyeur producer of a real time reality “strip” show called, Girls Gone Wild, is held responsible for the actions of kids who see the lifestyle of someone like Anna Nicole Smith as acceptable, mainstream and worthy of emulation. As stupid as it was, it can’t be a shock that hormone ravished teenage boys would think hiring a stripper for a party is now a mainstream occurrence. They could have saved themselves some money though, and invited one of the Girls Gone Wild chicks to take it off for free.
And then Don Imus, like Hillary, tries to sound black, and botches what he must think is a line in a rap song, and insults a group of talented, bright young girls, who have not gone wild, but have gone to college, and just want to compete athletically and academically.
Three young Duke students were a breath away from serving time in prison for an accusation by a person, who under different circumstances, could have been the celebrated stripper that has held the nation captive to the sorted details of her personal life. How can the discussion revert to the original cause of these fiascos without condemning the fact that these boys hired a stripper in the first place, which would contradict the public’s fascination with Anna Nicole Smith, and rap stars use of the word “ho”, which contradicts the outrage that a shock jock would say the same thing?
How is someone supposed to sift through the nuances of shocking humor and acceptable characterizations of a variety to issues barraging the culture? It is a mine field that seems to be littered with the bodies of those who drew the daily-double-standards card and are held accountable to a different standard than those who sit back smugly in their ability to not only trash talk, but be rewarded for it.
This is not the first time Don Imus has said racially insensitive things, and since he was never condemned or criticized before, the logical conclusion is that the culture has shifted to the point where this behaviour is now mainstream. Because the usually flappable feminists have remained silent over the dehumanization of black women in popular rap songs and lyrics, the assumption is that the black community does see their women as “hos” and to speak against this type of characterization of all innocent black women is considered judgmental, and culturally unenlightened. Anna Nicole Smith is elevated to the level of a rock star who has replaced the image of the Madonna as the most important mother in the history of the world and her accomplishment was being a porn star who slept with a lot of different guys to the points where they have to do a DNA test to see which of the many contenders is the “winner.” And the man who films young girls acting out their Nicole wannabe fantasies . . . sits in jail for filming their bizarre, public behaviour, which pretty much aligns itself with the lyrics of the rap songs.
Are you following this? So who are the victims and who are culprits? Is Imus a clueless bore or a victim of a schizophrenic culture that simultaneously applauds and condemns people behaving badly? Were the girls-gone-wild exploited by a rolling camera or were they seeking the same notoriety of a crotchless Britney, girl-kissing Madonna, or bed-hopping Anna Nicole? Who is the victim, who is the culprit? When rap musicians and record companies are rewarded with multi-million dollar contracts and record sales by calling black women whores, are women then victims or culprits for not denouncing the misogyny and rejecting this characterization?
Who are the victims, who are the culprits and what message is it we want to send as a cultured society, as a class of people, as a nation, as a gender? When will we draw the line, and how do we accept the names we are called when we do?
Perhaps the lesson in all this, as simple as Gold, should Rule, and a rewind with that as the standard would show all of this controversy totally mute. Anna Nicole would have been nurtured and protected and told her value is not in her body, but in her heart, and young impressionable women would have followed that positive roll model. Women-degrading rap music would have been rejected as offensive, oppressive and a modern-day reflection of what slaveholders thought of their chattel. Young girls would not be encouraged to strip for young men who have been raised on a culture where sex is a god and personal gratification the burnt offering.
If we teach our children to respect and honor one another, not exploit for selfish desires or allow themselves to be seen as sexual objects, then all of these headline events would possibly, never have occurred. And, in this imagined world of grace and empathy, the first time Don Imus strayed from a platform of civility and decorum, he would have been gently reminded that it is not polite to call people names he himself would find offensive.
The gyrating girls, college strippers, pornography, rap-infested songs, and commercially supported trash talk, are all symptoms of these things not happening. They are the byproduct of a country gone wild while innocent, hardworking, honorable young women like the Rutgers’ women’s basketball team . . . are the real victims in all of this, and a culture that allowed it to degrade to this level . . . is the collective culprit.