Friday, January 28, 2005

IT'S A 187 ON HOT 97

The latest updates on the Hot 97 "Tsunami Song" Controversy.

1. I want to just take a small pause to say: Thank You to J-Smooth at While this effort to hold Miss Jones and Hot 97's management accountable has certainly been a group effort - by thousands - Jay was in a unique position. Through the traffic to his site, Jay was able to mobilize attention to this issue with a dizzying quickness that's taken everyone by storm, not the least, Hot 97. Thanks Jay, sincerely.

Actually, that's not even good enough but now that I've read this new update, where Jay converses with Todd Lynn, it's just more proof that Jay is putting the smack hand down with a fierce, unwavering focus. Lynn manages to cram his foot in his mouth so deep, his toes are tickling his kidneys at this point.

His denials here are practically pathological. I'd feel sorry for him - because he clearly seems rather despondant over the entire situation - but how can you feel sorry for someone who showed such a complete lack of judgment and decency? His "we made a mistake but we're not racists" shows how he's still missing the point. Lynn should just admit, "look, we we were stupid, what we said was racist and we feel really, really terrible about it." At least that would should some moral courage and honesty. Trying to explain the whole affair as "a badd [sic] fuckup that we apologized for," is half-assed and doesn't address the anger that people feel out there.

2. It now seems that many of Hot 97's sponsors are pulling out in droves. I didn't think this was possible but there now is an increasingly likelihood that Hot 97 will have no choice but to fire Miss Jones' entire morning crew - hosts, producers, etc.

3. As I just indicated, the internet's potential to mobilize people fast and furiously has much to do with how this situation has played out but in all fairness, we should properly credit the vast, sheer stupidity of Miss Jones and crew for creating and airing "The Tsunami Song" to begin with. I don't think this situation would have garnered the international attention and outrage its earned had it not been for the unfathomable offense that was given by the song. The producer of the show should not only be fired - no sane radio station should ever hire someone who shows such a complete absence of common sense. Miss Jones, I'm sure, will probably bounce back on some podunk show in the boondocks and she might eventually make it back to NYC (look at Star and Buc) but I'm betting now she realizes that she f-ed up something B.A.D.

4. Ideally, I wish these kind of quick, mass movements happened outside the realm of media. Long term social change is structural and getting Miss Jones fired - immensely satisfying as that would be - doesn't address the underlying forces behind why "The Tsunami Song" comes into existence to begin with. It's all for the ratings but the grand irony is that so few media companies own most of the radio stations in the country, in a lot of markets, the urban contemporary stations that "compete" with one another are both owned by the same company.

Frankly, it'd be great if people, more than writing in to protest Miss Jones, turned off the radio and let Hot 97 wither away. But as cynics have suggested, this controversy will blow over and people will go back to listening to the station and life continues until the next debacle. And hell, even if they tuned into a new station, it's probably owned by the same conglomerate anyways, so does it all really matter?

5. The thing to remember here is that social change requires a long-term committment and not a flash-in-the-pan, sign-an-online-petition type action. I don't mean for this to belittle the time people have taken over the Hot 97 issue: the progress that's been made couldn't have been done without that. However, there are obviously far bigger looming issues at play. This actually seems like child's play. It takes tens of thousands to shut down a single morning show but one letter from the Secretary of Education can censor PBS. THAT is real power andthe kidn of power we should all be extremely wary of.

Hot 97 is an important symbolic battle to wage and I do hope we win it but there's so much more to be done, especially during this second Bush administration and its particular brand of social/religious conservatism. If you're looking for where the larger culture war is going to be fought, pay attention to how America's secular freedoms are going to be target #1 for the Christian right's brand of radical, religious fundamentalism. The kind of changes they'd like to make will make the "Tsunami Song" seem like a pleasant little ditty by comparison.