COLUMN: Why Howard rules
By Paul Fruitman
Show business can be pretty disgusting. A bunch of phony people kissing ass and sucking balls to get jobs. This is what makes Howard Stern so amazing. Howard Stern does not kiss any ass. In fact, on air he's not even nice to people.
And Stern represents the ultimate in fairness simply because he hates everyone equally. Whether you are rich or poor, famous or just an average Joe, Stern will come after you if you rub him the wrong way (of course, if you are a curvaceous woman, you can rub him any way you want). Screw with Howard Stern and he will bury you as 18 million listeners a day tune in.
Stern's latest movie, Private Parts, shows a more human side of the world's biggest shock jock, but it also shows a man who toppled the establishment. How did he do it? Well, first of all Stern is funny. Damn funny. But more importantly, Stern simply decided early in his career that he was not going to play by the rules, that if he wanted to say or do something, he would just do it.
And Stern has done just that, gracing his morning and afternoon radio programs with profanity and lewd comments, breaking FCC regulations without repercussions simply because his ratings are so high. He now makes an estimated $12 million dollars a year (syndicated radio show, bestselling books, TV and movie deals) and owns every station manager that ever tried to control him.
Stern is so popular because he says what nobody else will. The people that love him tune in religiously. The people that hate him are even more avid listeners. And it is all due to the fact that Howard Stern says what people think but wouldn't dare to utter.
Stern represents an outlet for America to vent its frustrations, fears, anxieties and dislikes. Because people won't say it, Stern says it for them. Let us face facts. Our society is one obsessed with sex, yet exposing these sexual obsessions is taboo. Stern doesn't give a flying fuck about taboos. He does not hide his sexual obsessions, he glorifies them. He talks constantly about getting laid, about his small-penis complex, about masturbation. Stern brings strippers onto his show and tries to see how long it will take to make them laugh by tickling them.
Stern is also good for society. That's right, good for society. No matter what any uptight, conservative Christian fundamentalist lobby group says, Stern is positive. Because he says such crude things, he alleviates our need to do so. Stern rants about subjects that people can relate to, and essentially, these listeners find themselves living vicariously through him. It is the same with comedy that places the upper classes of society on the bottom. The common people see this and laugh. The aristocrats see this and laugh too, knowing that its symbolism also acts to neutralize any potential rebellion.
There are times when Stern has arguably gone too far. Making jokes about his wife's miscarriage on the air and some of his racial and misogynist commentary are good examples of Stern going overboard. Howard Stern's radio show is often enough to totally turn one's stomach. Much of the time, Stern is simply a disgusting pig
But even if you hate Howard Stern, even if you think he is pure trash, you have to respect the way he rose to the top. Private Parts is currently raking in box office sales hand over fist. In many ways, it is unprecedented. A movie starring the person it is about. All this because he refused to listen to convention. While the rest of show business spends its time sucking up, Howard Stern continues to play by his own rules. While Hollywood continues to kiss ass, Stern chooses to kick it instead.