These are ugly times, and ugly times need ugly celebrities.
As a fan of Howard Stern's for more than a decade I am both bemused and irritated by the recent barrage of media coverage dealing with his rampant popularity. But the article in Calendar Oct. 28, "Putting Howard Stern's Audience on the Couch," is so skewed in its observations--like the quote above--that I feel compelled to put it on the couch.
First, I must confess to being a white, middle-class male. So I do fit the demographic of one of those so-called white men that this article claims Stern is calling out to and saying "you can break out, break free." But the similarities end there . . . and the problems with the article begin.
The '90s brand of media coverage tends to focus on the sensational aspects of the topic under examination. Although there is some truth in the sensational aspects, concentrating solely on those elements proves misleading for, ultimately, they miss the far larger and less juicy sides of the story.
Certainly, many of Howard's fans are one step lower on the evolutionary ladder. They devote their time and energy to getting through to talk shows so they can utter the hallowed name "Howard Stern" or they stand on the corner of Melrose and Highland with signs proclaiming "Howard Is God" and other such effluvia. But they are not--I repeat, are \o7 not\f7 --representative of the vast majority who listen to Stern.
We are the ones driving past that oddball with the sign, tuned in and listening to the antics of Stern and his cohorts. For us, Stern provides a much needed antidote to the monotony of the rush-hour grind. We are, however, relatively intelligent enough to realize there is more to life than Howard Stern. We are not angry. We are not threatened by the forces of modern life. All we are is . . . laughing.
Stern's show is the radio locker room of the airwaves, with all the good and bad that entails. The banter is loose and carefree. It can get tasteless. It can get offensive. And for those of us who love the show, it can get funny.
But I don't listen to the show to receive political guidance or some type of validation for my opinions from the Lord High Master Howard Stern. Stern's rantings are part act and pure pap. And outside of the laughs they generate, they're totally useless in my life.
So, reading in your article that his audience gravitates toward him because he's "a lightning rod for people who feel too powerless against the changes in society being wrought" makes me feel that you just don't get it. The analysis sounds good, but it's guilty of overreach. We listen to laugh. Period. Stop trying to affix the behavior and attitudes of his lunatic fringe to the more rational majority. That's like holding up Mark David Chapman as a barometer of the typical John Lennon fan.