Michael Savage and Imus
Before I created Coulter Shock, I listened to other pundits, including Michael Savage, who advocated increasing prison torture and sticking lit dynamite in the anuses of Arab detainees. The problem with Michael Savage is that he does not mean to be taken seriously. He's like Howard Stern. His use of "irony" provides a shield where he can say completely offensive and racist things and then later claim he didn't mean them. Ha ha only serious. His voice is also somewhat unpleasant and uninteresting. People clearly listen to him for his insane content rather than his dulcet tones. I put him aside, temporarily to work on Coulter and then Limbaugh.
After I finished with Limbaugh, I went back online to search for new material for my next piece. I downloaded a Media Matters clip from a morning show on NBS called Imus in the Morning. He was showing pictures of Palestinians mourning the death of Yassir Arafat. One of the voice-overs from the Imus show was calling the Palestinians “animals” and was advocating dropping “the bomb” on them and killing everyone. The other co-hosts laughed along with this idea. Later that morning, they played a clip of someone pretending to be General Patton, speaking about how an embedded reporter had just filmed footage of a US Marine shooting an injured, unarmed Iraqi insurgent. “Patton” used the term “raghead,” and the phrase “bearded fatwa fairy.” Imus’ racism was thus clearly linked to his homophobia. (If anyone doubts that these struggles aren’t linked.) In the first half of the program, one of the male voices said something about the “fat pig wife of [Arafat] living in Paris.” Thus he added Francophobia and sexism to the mix. Another commentator, noting the emotion of the Palestinians said, “It’s like the worst Woodstock.” Hippies are liberals are feminists are Palestinians are ragheads are gay are women are Iraqis are French. Every group is standing in for every other group. And while they laughed, one of the commentators kept repeating “animals” and “kill them all.”
This, of course, reminded me of the Michael Savage calls to kill all the prisoners in Abu Graib, whom he called “subhuman.” His comments were interspersed with bizarre attacks on media organizations for being communist, apparently because they published photos of prisoner abuse. As if Al Jazeera would have ignored the pictures if the “communist” New York Times hadn’t run them. He called for more prisoner abuse and then dared listeners to report him to the FCC for it. Then he claimed that it was the American People who were really going to suffer. Because of having a poor image abroad? Because we could no longer torture prisoners? It wasn’t clear. “We the people” still don’t seem to be suffering as much as tortured prisoners. And certain not as much as would prisoners if, like Savage recommended, they had dynamite stuffed in their orifices and were dropped out of airplanes.
Savage and Imus are both entertainment. They were both going for a shocking laugh. Savage, like Limbaugh and Coulter, is completely caught up in himself. All of those people are in love with their own voices. They are completely pleased by their clever sophistry and smug beyond belief. At the same time, they think themselves to be victims. Hence, Savage dared people to report him.
Savage seemed to be addressing several different issues in his comments, many of them along the popular right-wing logic that the media lost the Vietnam War by demoralizing the American people by telling them what was going on. (If only they had lied, we would have colonized all of Vietnam!) These were neither here nor there, so I cut them along with the FCC dares. I returned to Imus and made one track that just contained the laughing and “animals!”. Then I made another track that just contained racism and calls for violence, eliminating “fat pig wife” and “worst Woodstock.” I skipped “Patton” entirely. All these issues are connected, clearly, in the words of the pundits, but I just focused on calls for genocide and violence. I looped the laughing track and played violent phrases from Imus and Savage on top. Thus the Imus men laugh hysterically at themselves and at Savage. The entertainment value of genocide, violence and torture is thus highlighted.
91Angels comments on this approach, “Cutting away the fluff and feathers and presenting what they really say in it's ugliness and baseness, everyone able to see what is at the end of their fork, engages the listener so they have to make a judgment (one that you hope will be in favor of what you are trying to communicate, of course) instead of just being preached to.” (http://www.livejournal.com/users/celestehblog/66886.html?thread=15686#t15686) However, as I worked on the piece, I became discouraged. NBC was forced to apologize for the content of the Imus show, but the piece only reminded me of the left’s failure to turn torture into a mainstream issue. I decided that offensive statements about the desirability of torture were not enough to support the piece, as clearly, not enough people would care. Also, “here’s a guy saying something offensive” seemed too weak to carry a piece.
I remembered a piece about laughter made by Kingston, an undergraduate who took MUSC 220 in the fall of 2003. His piece started out cheerfully, with friendly laughter, but turned dark and ended with mocking, menacing laughter. In our culture, we generally think of laughter as friendly, beneficial and desirable. Clubs have even formed where member gather and laugh, believing it to have health benefits. Kingston’s piece changed the way that I think about laughter by articulating its dark side.
The laughter from Imus initially seems as innocent as all laughter seems. However the words “animals” and a disgusted “look at this!” left in the laugh track showed it’s true, cruel nature. I decided to make the laughter the focus of the piece. I create an increasingly heavy overlap of laughter, using my spatilization algorithm, so that the overlapping laughter does not interfere with itself or with non-spatialized racist comments played on top of it. I used my phrase-finding algorithm again in this piece, to break up Imus and Savage into their sound bites.
This piece is only a few minutes long. I recorded a realization that came in at 2:22. However, when I play that recording, it seems to go interminably. I would have sworn it was at least seven or ten minutes. This piece had serious crash bugs until the spring break of 2005 and so has never been performed. This is absolutely my last right wing voice piece. Unless I take on Bill O’Reilley and Fred Phelps to do a piece concerning homophobia. God help me, I don’t know if I could stand it.
This post is not creative commons. It is copyright 2005 Celeste Hutchins. All rights reserved
Tag: Micheal Savage