YouTube link added 02.09.09
4:32 PM, Sunday, March 21st, 2004:
There's been so much written about Stern in the past few weeks that I feel belated to even write a passing comment let alone an entire entry on the subject...but I keep waiting for someone to hit the nail on the head and no one has. Amazingly, although I love Stern - I disagree with him on so many levels when it comes to this whole situation. Driving me nuts. Three main things I just have to tackle: Bandwagon Stern, Indecent Stern, and Defeatist Stern.
First off: Mr. Bandwagon concerning Bush. It absolutely floors me that Stern at 50 years old, could sit there and be hoodwinked by the propoganda machine that is american politics and blindly support the war and bash the French for their opposition yet when anything starts to effect him directly he completely turns. Even going against all earlier statements towards Bush and just wildy throwing full support to Kerry. Self-serving is one thing, and we all are to a point, but when you're in his position speaking to 15 million people a day, it holds a bit more responsibility. Period. It just sucks to see someone flip allegiances so drastically.
On a sidenote this whole "Weapons of Mass Destruction" thing is just wearing thin. Not because it doesn't have merit, but because we knew there weren't any before. The inspectors made it quite clear they found nothing and felt there was nothing yet the US went ahead. It's also fairly obvious that the bigger countries that backed us did it for their own financial gains for the rebuilding contracts. So where's the suprise when we don't find any? All these "actors" making the "WMD" jokes NOW are just as opportunistic as the countries that backed the war. It's all frustrating as hell to me because both sides are sheep. Which is why Stern's assessment that Kerry is a "Great guy" just makes me throw my hands up again. I completely understand him wanting Bush out, and the only guy to do it is Kerry, but don't be so naive to think that Kerry isn't of the same cloth. Again, why Stern at 50 years old can't understand the basic political system is beyond me.
So fine, Stern is self-serving and easily swayed to loyalty. That being said there is the next issue at hand here of the "self-censorship" that is now going on because of this new wave of political correctness sweeping the nation. The new "Indecency Act" passed in the House and about to be voted on in the Senate actually is a really big deal. It essentially makes it so vague that in-house censors have to hit the "dump" button every few minutes on some shows because they have NO CLUE where the indecency law is. It got to the point on Stern's show where the censor allowed some "Fart noises" but had to cut away on others because of the LENGTH OF THE FART.
I am going to post this indecent, illegal fart with full warning to all who click this button: YOU MAY BE OFFENDED. Heh. Anyway, this creates an atmosphere where you can't really create because you have no idea what's decent anymore. Something that's truly been going on in the network television world for decades but you have to realize talk radio is a different beast. Not only is it live, but the majority of the time it is unscripted.
So is Stern indecent for public airwaves in the morning? I'd have to say he has pushed every single line as far as humanly possible and the majority of the community probably feels it belongs at night. Just like his E! show is on at 10 stands to reason his talk show at present is too much for kids in the morning. Just because I'm not offended, or I think there are more indecent things on the nightly news, doesn't change that fact. The problem of course is how you define it. And the vagueness within the new Indecency Act is absolutely outrageous. If you're gonna levy $3,000,000 fines it needs to be CRYSTAL CLEAR. As it stands you have in-house censors with itchy trigger fingers because there's NO DEFINITION. Quick background on all this from a radio perspective:
For years now, because it's a commercial medium, the self-censorship was understood by the creators and owners alike. Without revenue, there is no show. But this is where Stern changed everything. He became #1 doing the tasteless bathroom humor he does, and although he lost advertisers early on, today? No advertisers are pissed. They're clamoring to get on his show. The FCC had no real mandate to go after him because the standards of the community obviously support his show. Their hands were tied...
...then along came the boob. And inconceiveably CBS received TWO-HUNDRED THOUSAND letters. Not only is that more than any single event in the history of radio and television, to my knowledge there's never been more than 10,000 angry letters for one event. So nearly a 1/4 million is MASSIVE. So massive that the FCC got their "mandate" and it became a greenlight for them to clean up EVERYTHING. And btw, lest you all forget - I thought the boob was completely inappropriate for the Superbowl and I supported the fines levied against CBS. It's about choice, and although it didn't offend me (except as an artist as it was just stupid), everyone has the right to expect to not see PLANNED nudity during the Superbowl. The word "indecent" is too subjective as the violence you find on the nightly news is just as "indecent" if not moreso than a woman's breast, but that's really beside the point. It was planned, it was inappropriate and CBS got what it deserved for not having the normal 7 second delay on their telecast. Duh.
So 1,000 words later, the thing that really irks me about Stern: Defeatist Stern. He has said point blank for the past 2 weeks that when this bill gets passed in the Senate he's quitting. He can't do his show anymore, he's getting censored at every corner for stupid fart jokes or talking about sex and he's done. The religious right has won. The fines once this bill passes are outrageously high, $500,000 per offense per station with a $3,000,000 maximum per day. All this on what someone else deems offensive. Pretty difficult ground to work with. But this is what Stern doesn't get. He has a responsibility as the target of this, to fight it. No other broadcaster has the power to do it but him. Period. If I were still in radio, I'd be going through the same shit but have no way to stand-up against the system. Howard? All he has to do is fight the fine. Which amazingly - he's already gotten! Friday morning he got fined for a conversation he had THREE YEARS ago that involved describing a sexual act. He was fined the then maximum of $27,000. In defense on his show Friday he played a clip from Oprah in which a woman described what "tossing your salad" meant. Incredibly while attempting to play the Oprah clip, he was censored again. LOL. He couldn't even play a clip from Oprah because his in-house censors deemed it too risky and they can't afford the fines. Stern pleaeded with them to let it go through because it's a clip of Oprah and if they fine him, they have to fine her which would end all this shit REALLY quick. Most likely no one would get fined, but the censors still wouldn't let it on. And for the first time today I heard a tiny bit of fight in him. Like he knew he could beat this...
...but he's still quitting the moment that bill passes in the Senate. It has of course occured to me that we're all naive to believe him - he'll never voluntarily turn off his mic to 15,000,000 people, but either way he's whined about quitting over this for weeks so he'e either a quiter or a liar. Heh. Pick one.
I guess I'm just pissed because there's such an obvious stand to make here and he won't put his ass on the line to do it. He can change all of this. He could get this to the Supreme Court where we could once and for all define what the hell "indecent" means. Hell I'm scrambling every day of my life to figure out what the hell direction to "fight" in and he has it HANDED to him on the biggest stage in the world and he's just gonna lay down? That just says so much about his character.
Then again, he may be intending to fight this all along and just needs to hear his listeners say "you're wonderful, you can do it Howard" to feed his insecurities and push him to do it. I've certainly been in his shoes in that vein. Especially in radio. It's funny this has all made me think of all the "indecent things" I've done on my show. Take for example "Family Skills Competition". In which we had two women have a "pissing for distance" competition live on the air on the street outside our studios. They both laid spread eagle and tried to see who could get it to go the furthest to win Phantom Menace tickets. If that's not indecent, I don't know what the hell is. Of course in my defense, it was 2 AM and none of this new legislation effects 10PM - 6AM, for good reason really. Kids "should" be asleep during those hours. But as you all might remember as well, Joe and I were going to do the new late show together at like 7 PM starting in January 2000. One can only imagine.
Now, in the middle of all this I get an email from a longtime supporter, saying that the Stern show is having open-auditions to replace Stuttering John. "You have to do it! You'd be perfect!" (sigh). I know for publicity's sake it can't hurt, but what's the point of putting energy into something, you DONT want? I don't want to be back in radio, I certainly don't want to be the idiot whipping boy who is forced to give assanine and demeaning celebrity interviews, and how could I work for someone I publically railed for being a weasel? If Stern was fighting the FCC, honest-to-GOD I would quit everything I was doing and help him run his website, or produce political parody songs, or something just to make sure his side was heard. Although I believe there are some lines that need to be drawn - the current bill is just ludicrous. So I may produce some parody songs and send them to the show with my resume IF and only IF he decides to push this to the supreme court. That is something I can get behind.
But I won't lower myself to the level of Stuttering John or the other band of idiots on that show (Artie and Robin not included) in its current state. It's funny, he actually brought up how much money John made as an inticement. Don't you read this journal? Ever? The second I choose to make money a goal, the dream is over. It's like the "hand-shaking" incident in 2002. Had I known he was a psycho drunk that would lead to the death of J-Dog, of course I would've. But that situation is exactly the moments in life that you have to take stands. People that arrogant and disrespectful burn bridges throughout their life and I was one of them. Only in LA is it considered a sin to disregard ANYONE for fear they may help you down the road. If I believed that I wouldn't have written this entry.
Man, 2,000 words. Guess who's a former talk show host?