Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mark Belling: Clear Channel’s Racist Pig

One of my favorite comedy movies of the past ten years is Mike Judge’s Idiocracy. It is a hilarious send-up of America, stupidity and the combination thereof. The premise is that, starting in 2005, smart people stopped reproducing and stupid people reproduced too much. The result, in 2505, when most of the movie takes place, is that the entire nation is incredibly stupid. You have to see how Judge (Beavis & Butthead, Office Space) sets it all up, but it is a very funny movie.

In the America of 2505, the top TV show – maybe the only TV show, except for porn – is "Ow, My Balls". In the show, a small and very fearful man is repeatedly hit in the groin by baseball bats, wrecking balls, and everything in between. At home, the citizens of the future howl with laughter at every painful thud. It is the perfect entertainment for the deliriously clueless populace.

"Ow, My Balls" is the ultimate result of a heartless corporation giving the people what they want, without regard to moral standards or the effect of electronic garbage on society in general. Are the ratings good? Fine, let’s do that.

People are not nearly as universally stupid as the characters in Idiocracy (however, according to Judge, we still have 497 years to go), but there are apparently enough stupid people in the Milwaukee radio market to make Mark Belling’s talk show the highest rated afternoon show. Belling’s frequently racist poison is broadcast by WISN, a formerly respectable radio station, now part of the notorious and mammoth Clear Channel radio chain. Clear Channel has been allowed to purchase 6 stations in the Milwaukee market, including, remarkably, a soul station (V-100.7). Do they work in the same building? Does Belling ever leave work with a bloody nose?

There used to be a sense of corporate citizenship, even for out-of-town companies with big local footprints. Companies might be able to make more money doing things that might have been more destructive to the community, but they didn’t. For one thing, they didn’t want to incur the wrath of other corporate citizens and other local leaders. For another, they had a moral compass and knew the lines they didn't want to cross in any event.

Not Clear Channel. They keep Belling on the air because of his ratings and couldn’t care less what racist tripe he spins into the air and the effect on the community. And Belling is transparently arrogant about his position with the company and his power to poison the city he inexplicably lives in.

The latest outrage from Belling was his show yesterday, in which he bloviated for an hour about how black people in the bars on Water Street are a danger to the area. He called for bars to stop playing hip-hop music and suggested the city may have to require bars to install metal detectors. "The more places you have on Water Street that play that kind of music, the more trouble there’s going to be." he said. "Now, nobody else will say that other than me." Fine. I’m sure Bull Connor felt equally brave.

The spark for Belling latest racist fear-mongering was, as usual, a tragedy that he chose to capitalize on. An incident between three Marquette students resulted in two of the young women being stabbed (one in the face, one in the shoulder) with a knife, allegedly by the third. All three students were African-American and underage. "There is a racial implication to the story," announced Belling, ominously. "I’m the guy that tell you what’s going on and doesn’t try to cover things up because of political correctness." You always know that, when Belling and other racists pull out the PC defense that simple incorrectness is coming. Sure enough: "Water far more racially mixed than it used to be...Water Street appears to be getting more violent."

There is a way to quantify this – Belling at least says he used to be a reporter and he could check with the District 1 police station and he’d have the information he pretends to know. But, like all good racists, he doesn’t want to be confused with the facts. Or, he just makes some stuff up. "There is a perception on the part of some bar owners [I’ll bet he can’t name one] that young black people tend to act far more aggressively than young white people."

This is all utter nonsense. But it goes on because it makes Belling’s angry-white-male demographic feel more comfortable in their own racist skin. I hear some of this stuff and think, jeez, is the program manager of the station (fill-in wing-nut Jerry Bott) or anyone in the corporate offices in San Antonio concerned that they have someone poisoning the community airwaves every day?

Nope. They like it. And, if they thought a radio version of "Ow, My Balls" would get big ratings they’d do that too. Maybe they could get Mark Belling to be the host; he could do it in blackface.

Interestingly, during his racist diatribe, Belling blamed some of Water Street’s imaginary problems on some owners of bars that don’t live in the area. "They’re pigs....They make a lot of money real, real fast, and then they walk away." Sounds like Clear Channel to me. Except they are not going anywhere, unfortunately.


Anonymous said...

Mike you're just as ignorant as Belling. Do you frequent Water St bars on the weekend after 8pm? Do you know the "vibe" that is going on down there on a regular basis? Of course you don't, you've got to be in your 50s and asleep by 9pm on a Friday night after you're done pounding a few old fashions while bitching about conservatives.

If you actually went to those bars you'd know the change that's been'd realize that what was once a premiere night spot in Milwaukee has gone downhill. Those who used to make up Water St and make it "beautiful" are now on Milwaukee St, in the Third Ward, BayView, or on a revamped North Ave (which I believe your brother had a hand in).

Water St has seen its hey day and unfortunately it's going downhill with it's clientele and attitude.

Anonymous said...

Interesting point of view Mike. I can't say that I always agree with Mark Belling, or even listen to him very often for that matter. However, I got a phone call this afternoon when a colleague called me and told me I, "Must hear what Belling is talking about". Being involved in the service industry for the last 8 years in Milwaukee I have seen some dramatic changes. No change, however, has been more noticable than that of the recent racial shift on Water St.

Many of my friends work at, manage, or own businesses on Water St. A common denominator in most conversations with them is this same issue. It's really not a matter of conservative vs. liberal views of it all. There are far more customers of African American descent these days. And what I have heard from my colleagues is the same thing, "it's destroying business and we can't keep any staff anymore because they're scared to be here". The number of fights has increased exponentially, crime has sky-rocketed and in case you hadn't noticed, the City of Milwaukee has been on top of this issue for more than two months now. There are veritable batallions of police officers on foot, on horse, and paddy wagons everywhere on any given night.

Do you think this recent surge of police force is due to simple racism? Or do you think this is a response to the violence?

You write like an educated guy, Mike, now it's time to think like one instead of being so p.c. and defending an issue that needs not be defended. Its not politics, it's not racism, it's what's happening. Water St. was once a Mecca for college students to relieve a little stress. It was a great place for college students to work and make good money. Now it's a place where people are afraid to get bum-rushed by gangs of disrespectful people who happen to be of another race. This was never an issue on that street before now was it?

Anonymous said...

i think we should worry about the quality of the customers at victor's.

Anonymous said...

Are you actually linking to that crap? I heard the same show, or at least as much as I could stomach, and was pretty sure an FCC complaint was in order.

I think its interesting (and sad) that all three [perp and victims) were Marquette students. So was the white guy who kicked in the Obama window the same weekend.

I think before we start the re-segregation push that Belling and his "listeners" [plants] are lusting for that people are made aware of some facts.

May I point out that two of the VICTIMS were Marquette students. One of them was just a college kid working her way through college at Major Goolsby's.

And she went to a bar that would serve her and got her face slashed.

What does that have to do with being black? Ask Belling. What doe you know about any of these people except that they were black?

And he's a racist because that's all he had to know.

The victim is not a symbol of the "encroaching" north side; she is a college kid. She is not some sort of hoodlum- she is a kid in a bar, like every other kid in a bar I've ever met.

I note that only Belling seems to have drawn a racist lesson out of a tragic situation. Belling's got an agenda- He says he's not a racist. I truly believe him.

But not being a racist is hardly something to brag about. I'm not a communist- ooh, how cool am I?

Belling is not much of a person. He's a narcissist. He's got a shtick. I'm guessing in the real world (which I hear is Victors and B. Bradleys, not Water Street--) he would giggle and say its just his job. Which is true.

His outrage is as phony as his girlfriend.

Anonymous said...

I go to Water Street all the time as a 25 year old law student, and you know what? BLACK PEOPLE AREN'T THE ONLY ONES WHO LIKE HIP-HOP! Shocking to all of the 50 something white-flighters I'm sure. The Nas concert two weeks ago (which went on without incident despite such HATEFUL songs like "got yourself a gun") was about 75% white.

Belling needs to shut the hell up and stop being bitter that his age (not racial) demographic isn't targeted by the trendy bars anymore.

And by the way, as a regular patron of those bars: the violent people I see are all cocky 21 year old white kids, not young black men. Of course that still makes it sound like there is a lot of violence down there, even though there is not.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, I just got back from Water St where it was closed off by police from Juneau to Highland. Chief Flynn was there at bar time working with officers, mounted police, and even a paddy wagon parking on the median.

And here's a quote from Flynn from tonight via the JS...maybe Flynn's a racist just like Belling is for pointing this out:

"In midsummer, a lot of our former cruisers started coming down to Water Street," Flynn said.