By now you may have heard about the Fox News anchor who used a racially derogatory word in her discussion of Lady Gaga’s performance at the Oscars. The beauty-pageant winner turned newscaster said it was hard to really hear Gaga’s voice with all of the “jigaboo music” accompanying the singer. I missed seeing the Academy Awards again this year. I think my streak for skipping that show for 56 consecutive years is impressive, but I’m not here to grandstand.
Since I didn’t see it, I guess there’s a slim possibility that Gaga’s back-up music was so raucous and bizarre that the standard English language was simply insufficient to adequately describe it. If that was the case, the reporter had little choice but to resort to jerky hand gestures or funny sounding slang words like “razzamatazz” or “badonkey-tonk”.
When criticized for her use of the slur, the news anchor Tweeted her little heart out, spewing apologies and offering the explanation that she didn’t actually know what the word meant when she said it (twice, but who’s counting, right?). The guy to her left seems to be a little more familiar with it.
In these N-word sensitive times, many white folk simply aren’t up to speed with the broad selection of racial epithets available out there to insult most any group. In truth, there’s no shortage in colorful words and phrases with which to simultaneously flaunt both ones racist leanings and impressive vocabulary. I’m not interested in helping popularize any of these lesser known terms and will keep them to myself, unless someone cuts me off in traffic.
As a lifelong speaker of English, I understand that we sometimes say things we don’t mean to. I say the wrong thing fairly often, such as “Hell yes!” to the offer of yet another pint of beer when I meant “No thank you”. The difference is that I know the meanings of the words, I just chose the wrong ones.
When I go to Starbucks, I order whichever coffee drink I’m interested in having, and specify whether I’d like a small, medium or large. I do not order a yeti or a grande. Though I’ve certainly been to enough Mexican restaurants to know that grande probably means large, I’m not positive, so I don’t use the word. To further complicate things, Yeti is another name for Bigfoot, which has the word “big” right in it. No wonder people are confused. Besides, the whole thing smacks of pretentiousness, but that’s for another blog post.
The real story is not that some perky newscaster used a racist term. The big message is that this woman, who talks for a living, had no idea what she was saying! Thousands of viewers tune in to find out what’s going on in their corner of the world and this is one of the people who tells them!? She didn’t know what it meant, and said it anyway – at least that is what she Tweeted, but there’s a chance that she also types things she doesn’t know the meanings of.
It’s commendable that people turn on the news in the first place, considering the sensationally tragic nature of most news stories. Even if some of them are only tuning in to find out who won the game or to ogle the weather girl, at least they’re taking some slight bit of interest in the world around them and not parking themselves in front of a “13 Wives and Counting” marathon on A & E.
This talking head has done little to restore peoples’ faith in the news media. If only she’d stuck to the teleprompter. In other news, Walter Cronkite is still spinning in his grave like a rotisserie chicken on a cordless drill. When pressed for a comment, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley both stated they could do a better job handling broadcast news despite their mutual state of deadness. Stay with us for continuing coverage, we’ll be back with weather and sports after these messages (Pull back to studio shot and cue the Starbucks commercial).