Not rich people, at least we know that much. Kanye West was all the talk over the weekend after using his air time during the NBC Hurricane Katrina relief telethon to say what most Americans (on the left) were saying after viewing days and days of disaster coverage with no rescuers in sight – that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”
But Mr. West got it wrong. There weren’t only black people suffering those horrific three days on the streets in New Orleans and elsewhere – there were many different ethnicities represented, the majority of whom appeared to be black. What he should have said was “George Bush doesn’t care about poor people.” Because it had less to do with the color of their skin than the amount of cash in their pockets.
Mr. West’s passionate views ran live on the initial broadcast, but his comments were deleted from the broadcast on the west coast – like that was going to do any good. It was more a symbolic gesture, as anyone with access to any form of media had already heard or heard about his comments long before they would have aired. It was all over the internet, CNN, local news – it upstaged the entire relief concert and even the hurricane news for a half-second.
While Mr. West was telling it like it is, he perhaps forgot that the whole point of the telethon was to raise money for the victims, not to start a race war. What he said needed to be said – just not in front of millions of Bush voters. He ended up, most likely, doing more harm than good as we all know when it comes to the right – they protest by withholding their money. If they can strong arm networks into firing anchors or pulling broadcasts, they can certainly make the decision not to give their money to a program that features someone like Kanye West. But perhaps some of the victims got more out of West’s comments than money would have given them – maybe there was a shared sentiment – someone out there was telling the world how they felt in that eternal moment where no one in our government was doing a damned thing.
It wasn’t just Kanye West who was angrily shaming the administration in a way they deserved, Celine Dion was equally passionate on CNN. The right wing Fox News was scrambling to spin the outbursts of everyone so as to deflect (rather pointlessly) any negative attention on their dear president and his administration. Not so fast, guys. Someone is going to have to answer for what happened, or didn’t happen — as the case may be.
We Americans were watching what apparently the government was not – we watched the headlines go from the hurricane news to horror stories of women being raped, the dead floating in flooded streets – we saw children standing on rooftops with signs that said “Help Us.” Why was nothing done? No one responded and no one came until days later. And by then, the images were replaced with angry faces flipping off TV cameras.
Kanye West’s outrage was perhaps the wrong place but not the wrong time. This is America, the richest country in the world and we can’t even respond to a crisis when it hits? Oh, but the right will tell you that it was New Orleans’ fault – they should have been more prepared, they should have gotten out. Clearly, those making that accusation have never been poor.
The people who shone this week were not the usual suspects – they were people like Kanye West, news anchors like Anderson Cooper and Ted Koppel who had no choice but to get emotionally involved – they were put in the awkward position of having to relate what was happening to the American people because we don’t have a president capable of doing so.
Where we go from here is anyone’s guess – perhaps it will enrage enough Americans to take back the government. It doesn’t belong to a privileged few but to all of us, black or white, rich or poor.
Notable TV This Week
Thursday, September 9
Natural Born Killers (*), seems rather pointless now, 7:30 p.m., IFC.
Journey of Life, examining our associations with chimps, 9 p.m., DISCOVERY.
Soundstage: Chris Isaak, 10 p.m., KCET.
Killer Hurricane: Katrina, 10 p.m., DISCOVERY.
Friday, September 10
Pulp Fiction (****), 8 p.m., IFC.
Solaris (*), awful, pretentious Steven Soderbergh movie, 8 p.m., AMC.
Reunion, 9 p.m., FOX.
The Fountainhead (**), 9:15 p.m., TCM.
Saturday, September 11
Field of Dreams (***), 8 p.m., AMC.
There’s Something About Mary (***), 8 p.m., FX.
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (***), 7:30 p.m., IFC.
The Terminator (***), 9:30 p.m., ABC.
Sunday, September 12
The Untouchables (****), 8 p.m., AMC.
Ocean’s Eleven (***), 9 p.m., CBS.
Flight That Fought Back, 9 p.m., DISCOVERY.
Mystery! Foyle’s War, 9 p.m., ABC.
Monday, September 13
Easy Rider (****), 8 p.m., AMC.
Mommy Dearest, 8 p.m., OXYGEN.
Double Indemnity (****), 9 p.m., TCM.
The Osterman Weekend (***), 9 p.m., FMC.
Tuesday, September 14
Wall Street (***), 8 p.m., AMC.
Supernatural, 9 p.m., KTLA.
Wide Angle, 9 p.m., KCET.
World Music Awards, 9 p.m., ABC.
Wednesday, September 15
Jaws (****), 7:30 p.m., TCM.
Two Weeks Notice (**), awful Hugh Grant/Sandra Bullock romcom, 8 p.m., AMC.
Lies My Mother Told Me, 9 p.m., LIFETIME.
Taradise, oh the humanity, 10 p.m., E!