Gooooood Morning, Howard Stern!
Last week, I was watching for the umpteenth time, 'Good Morning, Vietnam," the Robin Williams classic. There's a scene where his character, Adrian Cronauer, hops out of his jeep and engages the soldiers in conversation, hitting the heart of their fear and their deepest thoughts, bridging the gap between on-air theatrics and genuine empathy. It's one of the most seminal moments of the film.
It reminded me of Howard Stern.'Howard Stern, the Shock Jock?' you may utter, but that moniker became outdated years ago due to the personal growth of Howard and the relaxing of taboos in society. Is Howard sophomoric? Indeed! Is he offensive and sexually charged? Of course! Is he neurotically complex and emotionally tortured? Certainly!
But that's what makes Howard, 'Howard,' and it's that depth and empathy that makes him one of the greatest communicators of our time. This is less an homage but rather a look at his impact and his ability to inflame, perplex but most importantly, connect.
His Wack Pack are less misfits than they are a sampling of all of us. Boring, insightful, off-the-charts-crazy, annoying and sometimes, inspiring.
People are stuck on what they see as poking fun or meanness when in essence, he's bridging a gap between generations, scholars, computer programmers, doctors, sanitation men, to name a few, not to mention all the celebrities who have opened up and given us a glimpse into what makes them tick. And along the way, we see what makes Howard tick. And we all tick to the same clock in so many ways.
In his own 'Private Parts' movie, scenes cut to policemen, office workers and the like, laughing like crazy when someone gets on a Sybian. For those who don't know what that is, you're not old enough to read this column.
Like Cronauer, Stern gives us the time to laugh, cover our ears in mock shame and guilt, but there are those many moments when he really hits his mark and it's at those times, he's Adrian stopping to talk to many of us, resonating, whether we agree or disagree. And we take stock of our lives. We, like Howard, challenge perceptions, we laugh when we think we shouldn't but we always learn something..about special needs, pet humanity, loss, failure, success, embarrassment, vanity and humility. We often think 'should we be laughing at that?' Probably not but if there ever was a melting pot of America that the Lady in the Harbor welcomed, these are his minions. I'm one of them.
For those who disagree with me, I say: change the channel, or in this case, the posting page.
Howard would never let anyone be put on a pedestal unless he could look up their dress but I think the character Evey in the movie "V" summed it up and I'm taking editorial liberties: "He was Howard Stern (not Edmund Dantes.) And he was my hard-of-hearing father, and my annoying mother, my gay brother, my idiot friend. He was you, and me. He was all of us.
And Howard would probably reply: "hey now!"