Saturday, October 3, 2015
(March 1997, U.S.)
As a New York (well, a Long Islander, really) and a lover of classic rock music, my radio time for nearly twenty years (beginning in the mid-1980s) was directed at only one New York City radio station called 92.3 FM K-Rock, with classic rock all day and Howard Stern (the self-proclaimed "King of All Media") all morning! The station's format is now long gone and Howard has moved onto Sirius XM radio, but there was a time, my friends, when this particular radio station ruled the New York FM airwaves...
Ironically, I only first discovered Howard Stern during his afternoon drive show when he first joined K-Rock in 1985. The film PRIVATE PARTS, based on Stern's own book, traces his life and career only up until the year 1985, when his fame (apparently) skyrocketed. So it's pretty safe to say that despite my love for the man's outrageous radio routines, I had much to learn about what happened before I discovered him. But listen to how I sound, will you! I'm talking as if I'm referring to some truly significant Gandhi-type cultural figure worthy of a substantial biographical epic motion picture. Geez, we're talking about Howard fucking Stern! I love the guy, but let's face it - PRIVATE PARTS doesn't exactly tell the story of the triumph of the human spirit facing life's insurmountable odds and obstacles! No, this is a movie about shock, disgust, filth, hot chicks sucking on very long keilbasas, and even more important, the very first naked girl in the history of radio!
(thank you Jenna Jameson!!!)
As the film is starred by and narrated by Howard Stern himself, one of the first things he tells his audience is that's he's constantly misunderstood. Whether one chooses to actually buy that statement is up to them and just how devoted they are to his real stardom. The average radio listener only knows what they hear in radio bits that are (presumably) just an act. What PRIVATE PARTS likely attempts to do is actually humanize a man who has made his way to fame by being offensive, obnoxious and disgusting. Those who listen to him know this and frankly, don't give a shit! The more offensive, obnoxious and disgusting, the better! This is why we listen to him - or as the film suggests, we want to see what he'll say next! However, the film would like us to see the real Howard Stern - the loving and loyal husband, the excited father-to-be, the loyal friend to those he works well with. From his slow rise as a small radio disc jockey, Howard is committed to staying with those he's come to depend on during his show, including long-time sidekick and friend Robin Quivers, Fred Norris and Gary Dell'Abate (all playing themselves in this film, as well). Our purpose for this film, of course, is to laugh our asses off at a man who just wants to have fun while doing his job on the radio. Should we choose to take the humanity angle of it seriously, then it's very safe to say that Howard's claim of him being misunderstood is right on. The real Howard Stern (in the film) appears to be a decent human being whom you may not mind having in your life as a friend. As a husband, he seems almost exemplary, maintaining a true devotion and appreciation to his wife Alison through all the tough times of trying to make a name for himself in radio against the FCC and horrible bosses he's nicknamed "Pig Vomit" (played outrageously by Paul Giamatti). By the film's end, he's seen simply as loving father returning to his wife and three little girls when they greet him at the airport. Of course, even the most decent of man can't resist asking his devoted wife if she'd be interested in participating in a ménage à trois with himself and model Carol Alt. Just sayin'!
And yet, I have to point out, that despite the so-called happy Hollywood ending of a man and his devoted wife and family, Howard Stern in real life divorced from Alison in 2001 and married model Beth Ostrosky in 2008. So I guess the film's happy ending turned out to be a bust! Ah, but who cares! We don't watch PRIVATE PARTS to satisfy our emotional need for human drama that one might experience in a Merchant-Ivory film! We watch for the more important things in life - filth, disgust, shock and naked chicks...and because we love Howard Stern! Though I can't say that I listen to him anymore for the simple reason that I refuse to pay for any sort of radio, which seems to be the 21st Century listening trend these days. Sorry, but some things in life are meant to stay free of charge!
Favorite line or dialogue:
Researcher: "The average radio listener listens for eighteen minutes a day. The average Howard Stern fan listens for - are you ready for this? - an hour and twenty minutes."
Kenny Rushton: "How can that be?"
Researcher: "Answer most commonly given? "I want to see what he'll say next."
Kenny: "Okay, fine. But what about the people who hate Stern?"
Researcher: "Good point. The average Stern hater listens for two and a half hours a day."
Kenny: "But...if they hate him, why do they listen?"
Researcher: "Most common answer? "I want to see what he'll say next."