warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Hank Williams Jr. Hitler Comment Continues To Rankle

Harris Mayersohn |
October 11, 2011 | 8:05 p.m. PDT

Staff Contributor

(Hank Williams, Jr. in concert in Birmingham, Alabama. Andrea Elledge, Creative Commons)
(Hank Williams, Jr. in concert in Birmingham, Alabama. Andrea Elledge, Creative Commons)
It may actually be impossible to describe country-singer turned recent political pundit Hank Williams Jr. without using some combination of the words ‘idiot,’ ‘ignorant,’ ‘singer,’ and ‘indoor sunglasses.’

Williams Jr. used to be best known for his impeccable ability to change around the words to a meaningless song about “Monday Night Football” on a yearly basis as if he were Weird Al Yankovic’s racist cousin from the south. Nowadays, Williams Jr. is best known for his controversial comment on “Fox & Friends” comparing U.S. President Barack Obama to the far less popular, deceased German dictator, Adolf Hitler.

As long as I have been alive, Williams Jr. has been dancing around like a parody of himself in front of an American flag and busty cheerleaders, ranting about his rowdy (also presumably idiotic) friends before every week’s featured “Monday Night Football” game. Due to his comments, though, the Walt Disney Company, which owns ABC and ESPN, fired him and went ahead with its first Williams Jr.-free broadcast of “Monday Night Football” since 1991.

It should have ended there.

Instead, the Williams Jr. fiasco continues to make top headlines as he tries to clear the wholesome Williams family name by going on various talk shows, proclaiming his innocence, as well as his faith in the First Amendment.

Yet, no matter how much he (wrongly) believes his constitutional rights to sing about football, drink beer, and bash Obama were denied by the Walt Disney Company, Williams Jr. will most likely never again be mentioned during any football telecast on ABC or ESPN, unless its the punchline of a corny Jon Gruden joke.

I agree with the general populace that Williams Jr. made a completely moronic comment for which he should be held accountable and taken off the air to avoid further controversy. At the same time, though, I disagree with the mock outrage about Williams Jr’s refusal to apologize for his comments.

The fact remains that this man is a country singer. Not a politician. Not a television pundit (yet). But, a good ol’ fashioned country singer who most people know because his dad (the cleverly named Hank Williams Sr.) was also a well-known country singer. I doubt anybody ever cared about Williams Jr’s thoughts on the current state of politics and the economy in America. I figured it was safe to assume he voted for McCain over the black guy given his profession. Furthermore, I am fairly sure that nobody really thought of him as anything other than the “Monday Night Football Guy” before his outlandish comments made it onto every 24-hour news channel in need of a story to run.

I would imagine that the slate of reality TV which infiltrates cable boxes around the world have proven that you do not have to be intelligent to get onto TV. It is actually a medium that discourages intelligence for the most part, championing those, such as Williams Jr., that go with their gut instincts.

Just because someone with a fairly recognizable name says something stupid while cameras are rolling does not mean that it needs to be front-page news. Surely plenty of people who have done way more influential and important things than Williams Jr., yet are denied the privilege to make appearances on mindless morning talk shows, have said worse things about Obama without any fanfare.

Hell, I like Obama and even I have said less politically correct things about him.

For some reason, though, I cannot go to a news website recently without reading about some new development in regard to this dumb story. Maybe for once a musician or filmmaker with no political credentials or reason to be taken seriously can say something without having people hang on their every word. Williams Jr’s music has never been anything more than mindless entertainment, so nothing he says in the public sphere should be considered more than that.

As Williams Jr. talked about his fight for justice and free speech on Tuesday’s episode of “The View,” he made an astute observation about himself.

“I’m not smart enough,” he said.

So, with that in mind, I cautiously ask: Why are we acting like Hank Williams Jr. is a smart guy with an opinion we care about? Let us just move on already and get ready for next Monday night, with our undoubtedly less rowdy, more politically correct, friends.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.