Ever since he left real radio in favor of the satellite kind, Howard Stern and his faded Dirty Old Man strip-club radio act have been invisible. But now, some people are apparently trying to match him on the struggling Sirius/XM radio system. Actor Jamie Foxx has a weekend show called "The Foxxhole." It, too, was virtually invisible - until he unleashed a vicious attack on 16-year-old Disney teen queen Miley Cyrus.
Don Imus was publicly and noisily removed from MSNBC two years ago for his dismissal of the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos." If you think that was bad, compare it to what Foxx said about Cyrus: He demanded this young girl become a "ho," develop a drug habit and a sexually transmitted disease.
A profanity-tossing caller to Foxx's program had insisted that Cyrus had pulled a diva act at the Grammy Awards, when she unsuccessfully pleaded to meet the art-rock band Radiohead, then said she would ruin their careers. (On a different radio show, Cyrus admitted she was disappointed not to meet the band, but her tone was clearly joking about ruining them.) Foxx responded to the caller by saying he didn't even know who Cyrus was. But surrounded by a cast of idiots calling Cyrus a "bitch" and professing not to care because "we're all going to Hell," Foxx was goaded into attack mode.
First, he attacked her appearance. "Who is Miley Cyrus? The one with all the gums? She gotta get a gum transplant!" Mocking a restaurant order, he said "Let me get an order of mouth, light on teeth, heavy on gum?"
As his studio crew howled and encouraged him, Foxx torqued it up a few notches. He told Cyrus she should find some artistic integrity: "Make a sex tape and grow up... Get like Britney Spears and do some heroin.... Do like Lindsay Lohan and start seeing a lesbian and get some crack in your pipe....Catch chlamydia on a bicycle seat."
After he told Cyrus to make a sex tape and get a heroin addiction, Foxx celebrated: "We back! We back! It's another episode of smell my finger." Slang dictionaries say that last insult "carries an erotic implication." Have we descended so far that it's a smart career move for a 41-year-old man to make an "erotic implication" to a 16-year-old girl?
Sadly, it's far too common for child stars - singers or actresses - to "grow up" into dysfunctional "adult" behaviors, from drug habits to sex tapes. Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera almost had a contest to see which one could be more debased. Both made out with Madonna on camera at the MTV Video Music Awards, and that was nothing compared to what they did offstage - but still on camera.
These vibes first surfaced with Miley Cyrus last summer, when someone in her entourage made the terrible decision to have her photographed for Vanity Fair magazine topless, holding only a bed sheet. At fifteen years old. It suggested they wanted to scrub off all the Disney soap, and go directly to mental images of X-rated video.
Despite that avoidable misstep, she remains a child star at this moment, the star of a new "Hannah Montana" movie, which opened at the top of the box office. The Jamie Foxx assault on her lighted a wild fire on YouTube. People were angry at Foxx's bullying. In an appearance on Jay Leno's snow, Foxx apologized with the usual shtick: "I am a comedian and you guys know that whatever I say, I don't mean any of it. And sometimes as comedians as we do, we go a little bit too far....We're really the black Howard Stern. And so you know, we go at everybody."
Is that really something to aspire to, becoming "the black Howard Stern"? How is it an "apology" to imply "I didn't mean you should literally make a sex tape and take heroin?" Anyone listening to the hooting and howling around him in the studio knew that Foxx's rant was sincerely meant as a savage series of taunts at the expense of her Disney child-star image.
Country music star Billy Ray Cyrus, Miley's father, denounced Foxx's routine as hurtful in a TV interview. "There wasn't nothing funny about it, and quite frankly, I think if I said those things about his daughter, he might not find it so comedic." Exactly. Foxx has a 14-year-old daughter, Corrine, who lives with her mother. If Cyrus had denounced Foxx's daughter with the same terminology and the same aggression, his career in entertainment would be over. Finished.
The worst part of all of this is Foxx poured mud on the "Hannah Montana" star not because she's done something blatantly immoral, but because her Disney image is squeaky-clean.
Because she's innocent.