Sunday, March 07, 2004

Howard Stern

I have trouble with declaring indecent anything which is so popular. I mean, are all those people that make him oh so popular just torturing themselves with the gross indecency? Surely decency has to be socially defined, and when a large segment of the population gives him the thumbs up, it's just not indecent by a legally-enforced standard.

There are many things that I love about Stern, but one that doesn't get noticed so often is that he really talks to the people on the show. The strippers, the porn stars, the midgets, the retards. Yes, they're used for comic and/or sexual potential, but he also genuinely talks with these people. While their various traits are certainly discussed, they don't define the person. They have a full and intriguing dialogue which creates a mental image of a whole person.

I was eating lunch the other day at a rather nice deli near where I work, and two women walked in, one clearly developmentally disabled. It's not the nicest thing to admit, but being exposed to such people in the past has given me the willies. I'm not sure why, but I would get tremendously uncomfortable around the 'tards, something about them evoked a deep existential dread. As I munched away, I realized that, after I'd seen the two women walk in, I'd gone about eating my sandwich without a second thought and with no fear/loathing/despair/whatever. I have to give credit to Stern. I've heard countless dialogues with Beetlejuice and Gary the Retard who, despite their wacky names, have become real people to me. Yes, their quirks are mocked, but Stern has talked to them so often that they seem like real people to me, no better or worse off, existentially speaking, than anyone else. They're not sub-human or inhuman, they're just folks who have amongst their traits, these little quirks. It's a nuance of the Stern show that's lacking, I think, in the public perception.

No comments: