Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Shannen Coffin of National Review Online recently asked the question, "Is it unconstitutional for Americans to say 'Shut Up and Sing'?" when it comes to celebrities speaking out politically.

I argue that it's not the threat of boycott by fans that is the problem, but rather it's Slimfast firing Whoopi and the Alladin casino physically escorting Ronstadt out of the building, informing her that she won't be invited back. In other words, the marketplace is not at work in these instances, as Coffin would like to believe, as fans (or consumers) are not doing the firing and escorting. Corporations are making these decisions -- often times at the behest of one person (the CEO) -- not the fans. And as we know, much of this is being driven by corporate cronyism and special interest considerations, and also just simply fear and cowardice.

All evidence points to Howard Stern being fired from six Clear Channel radio stations due to Stern suddenly becoming very anti-Bush and passionately voicing this stance. The top fellas at Clear Channel are well-know Bush buddies. Where do the fans or marketplace fit into this equation? As another example, it's one thing for fans to decide not to buy Dixie Chicks CDs, but it's quite another matter for Clear Channel radio stations (which are many!) to categorically ban their music from the air waves.

Here we have a question of allowing the public to exercise their right of choice as consumers versus just flat-out censorship. Needless to say, they're not one and the same!

P.S. View one more time the prescient film "Network," as it shows Ned Beatty as a CEO of a huge media conglomerate and despite declining ratings for crazy-man Howard Beal, Beatty orders that they keep Beal on the air simply because head-honcho Beatty agrees with the message that Beal is conveying to the public. In other words, the marketplace (nosediving ratings) is voting "no" and yet because the CEO happens to agree with the ideology behind the message, it's "marketplace be damned!" But once Beal goes off course, or off message (ala Howard Stern), the plug is pulled.

Of course, the far right has very little problem with this fact since in general, corporate top brass is by far dominated by Republicans.

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