The first, and most simple one, is the complete and utter misunderstanding of the First Amendment on Hank Jr.’s, and many other people’s part. It’s really not that difficult. This isn’t a “First Amendment issue” or a violation of Bocephus’ ”First Amendment Rights” because the First Amendment exists solely to prevent government interference in speech and other assorted rights. It does not prevent corporations from firing you for saying obnoxious or politically volatile witticisms (and I’m really having to stretch about as far as humanly practicable to classify making an analogy comparing the President of the United States to Hitler as a “witticism”) that could irreparably harm their brand.
I strongly doubt that ESPN and Disney and their various corporate sponsors want to be associated with an entertainer on their big NFL game of the week that drives their ratings bus who would make such an analogy. Does Hank Jr. have the right to make such statements? Absolutely. But in that context, he also has to be aware that his actions have consequences. I know that. You know that. Five-year-olds know that. Hank Jr. apparently does not know that.
My other reaction is to put on my Grumpy McGrumperton hat and complain about the terrible production values in modern sports programming, of which Hank Jr. was one of the most egregiously annoying offenders. I hated the dueling Fox robots from when they had hockey. I don’t need Cleatus the dancing robot on NFL Sundays. I don’t need pumped up screaming teenagers and “rock music” acts screeching at me, nor do I need the latest prefab bumpkin off the modern Nashville assembly line yodeling on about small-town values on ACC football broadcasts. Did we really need Hank Jr. on MNF every week singing the same song he’s been living off of for the last 25 years?
You know who has great production and great montages? The CBC. Seriously. And I don’t just say that because I’m a hockey fan. I say that because they can take wimpy songs like this one, and even modern rock songs like this one and turn them into a great piece of art. They’re effective because they’re simple. They don’t have to rely on dancers and explosions and stuff flying all over the place and robots mating in the corner.
I’m hoping against hope that the Hank Jr.-less era of MNF will start to lead other networks to “tone down” their broadcasts. I’m tired of feeling like I’m being treated like a child every time I decide to turn on a game. I know I’m not tuning into a college professor lecturing on Kant, but I’m also not hanging out with Homer and Barney eating packets of mustard in the latter’s car. And I haven’t even mentioned the ads targeted towards males, particularly the borderline gay-bashing ones that decry “non-manly behavior” in beer selection, but that’s a whole other story.
The bottom line is that I would like the various networks to stop insulting my, and many other people’s intelligence. But I have a feeling that has about as much of a chance of succeeding as Hank Jr. singing on Monday Night Football next week.