Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Imus: "I need to grow up"

Two days after commenting on the final game of the women's NCAA basketball tournament between Rutgers and Tennessee (The Lady Vols won), radio and TV talk show host Don Imus admitted he did something wrong.

When talking about the nation's top two women's basketball teams duking it out for the championship - he overlooked their skills and abilities, which got them college scholarships for bringing their talent and gift of athleticism to each school, not to mention the the sacrifice and dedication of the women to their sport and academic achievements.

It was clear he had no respect for them as people, as women or as athletes, let alone champions.

For some reason, Imus felt compelled to evaluate the Rutgers women.

"That's some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they've got tattoos." he said.

His executive producer Bernard McGuirk added, "Some hard-core ho's."

Imus concluded, "That's some nappy-headed ho's there. I'm going to tell you that now."

To say Rutgers - and the world - were shocked by his bigoted, hurtful, degrading and infantile remarks is an understatement.

A tsunami of outrage poured in from even the most reasoned, docile sports fan and listener. They refused to sit by and tolerate the verbal atrocity.

I have a feeling perhaps the person most amazed by the response is Don Imus himself.

I've heard him defended by people who said we should remember him for his 40 years of work rather than this one absusive racist, sexist incident.

If it had been just this one incident?

I would say right. Destructive speech like this is a good lesson for everyone because of all the discussion it creates, and therefore education it brings about.

I'm all for the First Amendment and freedom of speech and don't want to see people fired for a single speech offense - even though several media personalities have been terminated in the past for saying much less offensive things.

But it wasn't just this one incident.

I won't repeat them on my blog because they are grieviously offensive - but this linked Chicago Sun-Times column by Jesse Jackson does. And after discovering all the other times Imus and his executive producer have said outrageously cruel racist and sexist comments over the years?

I say enough.

After apologizing many times, including on Al Sharpton's radio program, it's reported that Imus critics don't believe he understands why people are so angry at him - he's more concerned that he became the target of such volatile anger.

"I'm a good person," he has repeated, "who said a very bad thing."

But reports of his past extreme offenses over the years reveals a pattern of belief and behavior for which he has never done more than apologize - and apparently insincerely because he continued to do the same thing over again.

Imus has been suspended from his CBS radio/MSNBC-TV simulcast talk show for two weeks beginning this coming Monday. But indeed, CBS and MSNBC are partly to blame for not taking action much earlier, since his pattern of behavior has been established much earlier than this.

He says that the content of his show will be redirected because of this lesson. The question is whether his audience willingly listens to such things, and the audience has spoken loudly.

My problem is that he's had a million chances to change after being caught all the other times when he claimed he *knew* he said something "bad" then went on to continue to say things similar and worse.

Further it took him TWO DAYS to apologize for his comments - apparently having no idea after he said them that he had done something hideously wrong.

The only way his program will change is for him to go through the painful metamorphasis we all have to in order to deal with any bigoted ideas, beliefs and actions we've held in the past or may currently harbor.

Unfortunately, media usually totally screw this sort of dilemma up with their programming solutions.

They suddenly feature as guests a rash of visible minorities, gender/racial bias activists or politicians who want to make points by proclaiming their anti-racist, anti-sexist points of view or others whose rap we not only know but aren't really interested to hear again.

The program loses the personality of the host, which is why people tune in.

The whole point of redemption is to keep on doing his program "his way," but without racist, sexist comments. The question is whether "his way" necessarily includes racist or sexist comments.

He said it himself: "I have to grow up."

Again, the question is why he waited until he is 66 years old to decide to deal with his maturity.

Meanwhile, I'm sure one person laughing at all this falderal, someone who gets away with needlessly cruel, abusive, negative, racist and sexist remarks all the time is master lout and former drug addict Rush Limbaugh.

As odious as this man's words are, no one's talking about pulling his chain or his microphone plug.

Maybe that's because fewer people are listening.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"Growing up too fast"

There are several news stories out now in newspapers, TV and radio about protecting kids from "growing up too fast" - from being exposed to - and partaking in - drugs, alcohol and violence.

But ask any psychologist, psychiatrist or counselor: engaging in these activities and abusing mood-altering chemicals at a young age results in preventing an individual from growing up.

They actually keep us immature.

Significant steps in our maturation stop literally the day a child takes his or her first drink, drug or is severly traumatized by violence. Addiction is much more likely to occur if a kid takes a drink or drug at a younger age.

According to Robert Downey Jr., his father gave him his first hit of marijuana when he was 8 years old and was allowed to partake in addictive substances, including alcohol, as a child. According to addiction experts, children and women are more easily addicted to alcohol and drugs because of their physiology than adult men.

And addiction is no stranger to grown men.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, a noted child psychiatrist I interviewed from Seattle's Children's Hosptial and Medical Center told me the way children can recover from even the most traumatic experiences is to talk about their feelings.

However, addictions prevent abusers from processing - recognizing and talking about - memories or feelings in order to mature. When kids aren't taught systems with which to handle negative emotions or experiences, the fallout from those feelings and troubles can linger and fester - harming the individual's ability to deal effectively with life's ups and downs as well as blocking a significant part of the emotional and intellectual maturation process.

Several adult friends of mine regret ever lighting up that first cigarette or joint, or abusing alcohol. Not because they ever got "hooked" or addicted, nor were these "gateway" drugs ("lighter" drugs that lead to hard drug abuse) or because their lives were in any way messed up or ruined by them, but because they simply were not necessary.

They only took time away from the clarity they enjoy now not taking any mind-altering substances - especially the misery and time it took to quit smoking!

I'm one of them. What a waste of time. Even though I started when I was a young adult and not a kid, and quit smoking and drinking decades ago, I still wish I had never started. I'm someone who wants to make the most of her life; chemicals don't enhance that experience for me - they detract from it.

It's probably impossible to convince youngsters how much of their youth is robbed by sucking up cigarettes and booze or taking drugs because they mistakingly believe abusing drugs and alcohol is a sign of maturity - where in fact it is a sign of immaturity.

It's immature to get behind the wheel of a one-ton lethal weapon after drinking or drugging.

It's immature to escape feelings and refusing to grow up drinking and drugging.

It's immature to instigate violence.

Violence not only enforces simplistic, ineffective solutions for complex problems, but witnessing violence traumatizes not just those who experience it, but even those who execute it; those doing the shooting and hurting others.

Why do you think there are so many soldiers - who firmly believe they're doing the right thing - suffering from post traumatic stress disorder?

Again, from all I've seen and experienced, smoking, drinking, drugs and violence keeps those parts of us that have not developed immature. Literally preventing us from becoming all we can become, all we can genuinely experience in order to live life fully.

It always makes me laugh when notorious alcoholics and drug addicts die and are described as people who "lived life to the fullest."

Um, no. Drugs, alcohol and violence actually prevent us from living life fully - I mean, what good is having a "great time" if we can't remember it or suffer the sickness of a hangover the next day or two or three after - preventing us from doing anything except recovering?

Or suffer from life-altering injuries, severe trauma, are killed or put in jail because of violent acts?

It's true of artists. Who can create honestly, love openly, share our talent fully, if we're "under the influence" that prevents us from accessing our deepest thoughts and feelings.

An interesting study in Canada revealed that great artists don't do great work while they were under the influence or suffering from depression or bipolar disorder, but in fact when they were free from those things - lucid, sober and not distracted by demons.

However, because those experiences tended to be their most vivid and recent memories, that is what they tend to create in their work - painting, writing, and so on.

You may consider these things when you are creating characters as a writer, actor or director.

To be clear - I personally don't care if adults imbibe or partake of anything they choose as long as they don't endanger anyone else as they do it.

However you choose to define living your life to its fullest and being genuinely happy - whatever that is - is just right for you.

It is your body, your mind, your life.

I thought you might find these thoughts interesting.

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