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Response to Mary Williams' Article on "Shock Jocks" Opie and Anthony
This is in response to Mary Williams’ article about Opie and Anthony’s recent revealing of Congressman Anthony Weiner’s… well “weener” which can be found here:
The title itself gave me an idea of what to expect from someone who obviously was not familiar with the two radio talk show hosts. As a long-time fan of their show, I took exception to Ms. Williams’ comments and decided to take some time to take apart her article, one paragraph at a time…
“When an explicit photo of Anthony Weiner’s purported package hit the Web Wednesday after Andrew Breitbart shared it on the Opie and Anthony show, America was stunned to learn that Opie and Anthony are still relevant. It turns out the only thing more persistent that Weiner’s dong is the allure of the shock jock.”
First of all, America was not stunned to learn they are still relevant. To those who don’t listen to their show, O&A are not relevant, but they don’t care. More on their relevance in a bit.
“Gregg “Opie” Hughes and Anthony Cumia have never had the King of All Media cachet of Howard Stern, but like a slew of other radio bad boys, their infantile shtick has proved surprisingly durable. The duo, who’ve been coasting on their formulaic combination of “outrageous stunts, biting impressions and guest nutjobs” for 16 years now, have been fired, fined and canceled for their behavior — yet still remain persistently on the air. Among their greatest hits: a 1998 April Fool’s stunt in which they hilariously reported mayor of Boston Tom Menino had been killed in a car accident, a 2002 incident in which they encouraged a couple to have sex in St. Patrick’s cathedral and broadcast their activities (a prank that cost them their nationally syndicated show), and a 2006 eggnog drinking contest that ended, predictably, with a contestant vomiting into somebody’s mouth. (To their credit, though, they did get Louis C.K. to ask Donald Rumsfeld if he was a lizard from outer space.)”
Yes, they have been surprisingly durable, but the “stunts” that are listed here are just drops of water in a bucket and do not give a precise picture of what their show is all about. Williams should also take note that their last “shock moment” was in 2006, which was five years ago.
“There’s something both blatantly offensive and quaintly old-fashioned about the shock jock, and about the idea that men like Don Imus, who in 2007 referred to the Rutgers women’s basketball team as a pack of “nappy-headed hos” or Bubba the Love Sponge, who said after last year’s devastating earthquake in Haiti that the county “ought to tap the hooker market to get things back on track … Maybe half a million Haitians that will end up not being around tomorrow … it’s a cleanse,” are still gainfully employed.”
Sorry, but you should not compare O&A to the men above. Although O&A frequently touch on racial issues, they tread very carefully and know when to stop short of the breaking point. Since Don Imus was mentioned, let’s briefly talk about his situation for a moment. Imus acknowledged his mistake and even went to great lengths to apologize to the black community, including Reverend Al Sharpton. Imus appeared on Sharpton’s radio talk show, knowing that Sharpton would take him apart, but felt he had to make his apology as sincere and genuine as possible. It still resulted in Imus losing his job at that time. Why did Mary Williams decide to leave out that little detail? Are shock jocks really that bad? Do they not deserve to be acknowledged for their mistakes? I agree that some are more offensive than others, and that those “shock jocks” should quit their day job. But, if you’re going to bring specific examples into your argument, then you also have to present the other side’s perspective and response to their situation.
“You’d think after decades of FCC baiting and outrage inciting, the pee pee poo poo radio format would by now seem as dated as a 30-year-old copy of “Truly Tasteless Jokes,” and as boring as, well, the jocks themselves. But it turns out that for a certain audience, sexist gags comparing women to toilets just never get old. In the age of Sirius, where jocks are at long last free to say “shit” on the air, the anything-goes douchebag seems downright indestructible. Oh, sweet freedom of speech! But what was perhaps once an outrageous, anarchic, rock ‘n’ roll style seems now just as lazy and bored as a hooker in an on-air hot dog eating contest.”
It never gets old. People love to laugh at different things. That does not always mean sexist gags or jokes. I like how Williams brought up the FCC in this paragraph. The reason why O&A took their show to XM Radio years ago was to GET AWAY FROM THE FCC! They were so sick and tired of the FCC breathing down their necks that they were one of the FIRST “shock jocks” to switch to satellite radio. Back in the old days, the FCC did not regulate satellite radio. It was a service that provided an alternative to mainstream radio and people were given the option to pay for it in order to be able to listen to them. Let me repeat: THEY PAID TO LISTEN TO THEM! And you know what? In recent years, they are no longer indestructible because the FCC is now trying to find ways to regulate satellite radio, so it’s not “anything goes” anymore. Which brings me to another point… The outrageous stunts that Williams mentioned earlier do not happen anymore because of these new restrictions. O&A are literally not shock jocks anymore, nor do they make an attempt to maintain that kind of image.
“It’s not that being vulgar and outrageous can’t be fantastic. But Opie and Anthony possess none of the crazed jackassness of a Johnny Knoxville or the politically naughty brilliance of “South Park.” Even Howard Stern, for all his Weiner press conference crashing, has the impassioned air of a man who occasionally balances his talk of blumpkins with an impassioned and very personal investment in First Amendment freedom.”
What are you talking about? Opie and Anthony possess both of these qualities and more. These aren’t dumb people who are on the radio. If you ever listen to one of their shows, O&A present very good concrete arguments and viewpoints about everything from sports to politics while injecting their unique sense of humor and passion. In fact, Anthony Cumia’s insight on politics and current events, both domestic and international, is more coherent, non-partisan, informative, and enlightening than the likes of CNN, FOX News, and MSNBC.
“Compare any of that with what went down when serious journalist/possessor of cellphone penis shot Andrew Breitbart says his hosts “used a surveillance camera that’s in the room and did a screen grab of it and put it out there. These people have admitted that they did this surreptitiously and illicitly and they lied in the process saying that they didn’t even have a camera in the place.” It’s an unusual assertion, given the fact that it appears his visit to the show was being openly recorded, but “Opie” Hughes likewise asserts that “Breitbart did not want this picture to be released.” Perhaps Breitbart had confused a show that has conducted Christmastime “homeless shopping sprees” with the Jim Lehrer “NewsHour.”
Ok, you did not listen to the show or follow them on Twitter where they gave everyone their full explanation as to how this happened.
“Of their Weiner-tweeting shenanigans, “Opie” Hughes took to YouTube Wednesday to explain that after a fan grabbed an image off the video and sent it to them, “It was a race to see who could tweet the picture the fastest. That’s exactly what we did. Unfortunately I don’t think we were thinking.” That’s them in a nutshell. There’s no joke there, no punch line, not even a question. Just a bunch of guys sitting around, looking at another guy’s penis and laughing. That’s long past the point of being shocking, and it sure as hell isn’t funny. It’s just pathetic. And very, very tired.”
Ok, well at least you mentioned it here. They wanted to be the first to break the news. Why is Williams comparing that to just a bunch of guys sitting around, looking at another guy’s penis and laughing? They are a talk show on radio. They are part of the media. And what does every news media outlet try to do when they have a big story? They try to be the FIRST to break it! Do these news media networks sometimes break the news without thinking or even checking the facts? ABSOLUTELY! So, before Ms. Williams decides to bash them again in the future, I suggest she perhaps pay to listen to them for a month and decide whether or not she was a bit misled by the inherent “shock jock” label. Because anything less is just pathetic. And very, very tired.