Saturday, April 14, 2007


Earl Ofari Hutchinson in Thursday's Philadelphia Inquirer:

...Now enter shock-jock Don Imus, the latest white guy to be transformed into a racially and gender-incorrect punching bag.... He, of course, has been verbally mugged, battered and abused....

But again, Imus is the softest of soft targets. The same can't be said for the black rap shock-jocks. They made Imus possible. They gave him the rapper's bad-housekeeping seal of approval to bash and trash black women....

Look, we can argue about whether misogynist rappers deserve a fate similar to Imus's, but please -- rappers didn't "make Imus possible" because he was doing this kind of material before anyone ever heard a rap record.

I know because (long story) I have a dusty vinyl copy of Imus's standup comedy album This Honky's Nuts.

Date: 1974.

A sample joke:

... Newark mayor Kenneth "King Kong" Gibson has announced the nomination of the city's first Hispanic municipal court judge and the first black woman to fill a second vacancy on the court. Judge Guillermo Alfredo Espanata Ortega Ortez Astellego Jijuete Chingao will assume his duties as quickly as he can get his car started and get to court. The other new judge, thirty-year-old Rebecca Golin Johnson Lincoln Jefferson, will assume her duties as soon as she, in her own words, "gets damn good and fuckin' ready, honky!"

This, by the way, is Kenneth Gibson (whose nickname was not "King Kong"):

Elsewhere on the album, blacks inevitably drive Cadillac Eldorados and make lots of noise during sex; Jews sell jewelry and cheat people (but Jewish women are good at oral sex); Poles are stupid and inordinately fond of bowling. ("Polish jokes" were a staple of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In a few years earlier, but they fell out of favor; Imus was apparently the last person on the planet doing them.) White people are uptight, and white women in particular don't enjoy sex very much. No, it's not quite as nasty as some of his subsequent work, but it's ethnicity-obsessed.

Imus may have learned the word "ho" from rap, but he was trying to follow in the footsteps of comedians, black and white, who "worked blue." Or this album he does the news (or tries to) like George Carlin; the title (and the ethnic jokes) invoke Richard Pryor (whose first crossover album was That Nigger's Crazy.)

The nasty stuff got to radio, and got uglier, as we slid into the deregulated Reagan '80s. And, of course, Howard Stern and Don Imus were longtime rivals, and Stern hasn't exactly refrained from ugly racial material.

So criticize rappers if you want, but don't blame them for Imus.

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