Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Roseanne: hellogoodbye

Roseanne Barr, a star who, like Kanye West, seems to have made the switch over to the Trumpian side of the aisle, just had her fledgling show canceled almost immediately after she had tweeted an insult about black government official and Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett: "Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj," where "vj" means "Valerie Jarrett." (Jarrett was born in Iran to two African-American parents.) Barr quickly took to Twitter to apologize for her intemperate remark, and she also said she would be quitting Twitter.

What has resulted is yet another acrimonious debate in the ongoing culture war. Was Barr's offense serious enough to warrant the immediate cancellation of her sitcom? Haven't other celebrities said and done worse (e.g., Kathy Griffin and her severed head of Donald Trump)? Doesn't Barr have the right to express herself freely, however odious her thoughts might be? Is ABC, the network hosting "Roseanne," so naive as not to realize that Barr has been inflammatory before (cf. her Hitler photo, complete with Jew-shaped cookies coming out of an oven, for a magazine shoot)?

Some people are saying that Barr's transgression is serious enough that she'll have to "pull a Mel Gibson," i.e., contritely disappear for a few years until the furor dies down, and it's once again safe for her to poke her head out. Styx, in his video on the incident, contended that the real cause of Roseanne's downfall was the remark she made about billionaire George Soros, whom she accused of collaborating with the Nazis back during World War II: "...turned in his fellow Jews 2 be murdered in German concentration camps & stole their wealth."

I haven't watched any episodes of the new "Roseanne," and since I've long found Barr to be, at best, a noxious presence on TV (you'll recall her butchering of the US national anthem in July of 1990), I can't say I feel any sympathy for her, given that this is a predicament that she created herself. Let her hang, for all I care. I've also seen some stupid comments from the right to the effect of, "Why is it racist to call a black politician a monkey when liberals constantly called Dubya a chimp?" This is disingenuous because the question ignores the long, long history of associating blacks with simians as a racist dig, a practice that still occurs today. Upshot: yes, I think Barr's remark was racist. At the same time: yes, I think racist remarks can be dug up from sources on both sides of the political aisle. No one comes away from this looking, if you'll pardon the phrase, lily-white.

My suspicion, though, is that ABC, despite sitting on a cash cow with Barr's popular show, had been looking for a reason to can it, and Barr provided that reason gift-wrapped. Over on Drudge at the moment, we see a series of links that tell a story of sorts:

(4 of 5 of the above links lead to this article)

I hadn't thought of the matter in such tit-for-tat terms, but Drudge (well, does put a finger on the Punch and Judy nature of public discourse and action these days.

As for how much of a rightie Roseanne has actually become: I suspect she's a lot like Kanye West, i.e., more of a shit-stirrer and attention whore than someone with a self-consistent political outlook. I could be wrong; I can't say that I've ever paid any attention to Barr's personal life, but my instinct is to lump her with most of the superficially thinking Hollywood crowd: wherever the wind blows, that way turns the vane.

The Roseanne flap shows that it may be too late to back away from the cliff of a cultural civil war. Such a war won't be civil at all: it'll be mean and petty and coarse, and if it comes to physical violence, I have little choice but to bet on the side with all the guns. How sad.

No comments: