Twitter is abuzz today with the news that ABC has dropped the rebooted version of Roseanne Barr’s eponymous television show after she posted a racist tweet about former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett. Predictably, Hollywood celebrities are stampeding over each other in an utterly ridiculous contest to see who can express the highest degree of moral outrage.
Let’s be clear about one thing: Barr’s tweet, which called Jarrett the “baby” of the “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes,” was unquestionably awful. Jarrett was born in Iran to African-American parents who were working there to help establish a children’s hospital. Like many conservatives, I disagree with Jarrett’s political positions, but at this point it should be beyond question to say not to compare black people to monkeys.
Besides, racism is for lazy people. There are fair debates about the policies of the Obama administration and Jarrett’s role, but if you start out with some childish, racist taunt, you’re pretty much admitting you don’t have any substantive arguments to offer.
So, fine. Barr’s tweet was horrible. It was racist, it was wrong, and she should have never tweeted it. But I can’t help but roll my eyes at the reaction today.
Has everyone forgotten all history that’s older than the milk in their fridge?
Roseanne Barr is obnoxious and controversial and horrible — and yes, sometimes racist. That’s what she does and who she is. She is a comedienne who has traded on controversy and outrage. None of this is new.
Nearly 30 years ago, she shocked a national television audience with her screechy rendition of the anthem at a 1990 baseball game — her assault on the ears followed by a finale where she grabbed her crotch and spit on the ground.
In 2009, she posed as Adolf Hitler for a magazine photoshoot in a kitchen, pulling a tray of burnt gingerbread cookies out of an oven. Barr herself is Jewish and the photoshoot was presented as satire, but the theme of “That Oven Feeling” and the burnt cookies were viewed by many as just too far.
Barr has retweeted nonsense from garbage sites like Gateway Pundit and InfoWars, conspiracy theories about Seth Rich, and — I could go on and on and on. Finding controversial things Roseanne Barr has said or done or tweeted is not hard. This wasn’t even the first time she has compared black people to apes.
She’s also far from the first person in the media spotlight to say something horrible.
Johnny Depp gave a speech at the Glastonbury Festival last year and asked the audience “when was the last time an actor assassinated a president?…[I]t’s been awhile, Maybe it’s about time,” — remarks he later claimed were jokes. Depp is continuing to be cast in major roles, including the next in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film series from Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling and an upcoming biopic about antivirus software developer John McAfee.
Daily Kos founder and Vox co-founder Markos Moulitsas tweeted that “Republicans are getting what they want” after Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and other Republican members of Congress and staffers were shot at a practice for the Congressional Baseball Game. He hasn’t been run off his websites by the torch-and-pitchfork brigade.
Shall we have a refresher course on the countless times former President George W. Bush was compared to monkeys or Hitler? Or those who wished for the children of Republican members of Congress to die in combat?
To adapt Billy Joel’s famous lyrics, Roseanne Barr didn’t start this fire; it was always burning since the world’s been turning.
So what’s different now? Why did ABC jump to cancel a profitable show that was getting sky-high ratings? Why did her talent agents, ICM Partners, drop her as a client today? Both ABC and ICM Partners are willingly forgoing lucrative future income by severing ties with Barr.
It’s hard to logically explain this as based on anything more than Barr’s support for President Donald Trump, both personally and as incorporated in the plot of the reboot’s pilot episode. The foul-mouthed, abrasive Roseanne and her squabbling brood were hardly a conservative show by any means other than the title character’s 2016 vote for Trump.
Socially liberal but experiencing economic hardship, Barr’s character conveyed a message familiar to many Rust Belt voters who were unswayed by Hillary Clinton’s attempts to woo them. “But, Jackie, don’t you remember, we almost lost the house,” she retorts to her pussy-hat wearing sister who is aghast that she would even consider voting for Trump.
Never Trumpers get a constant barrage of insults online that we “just don’t want to admit Trump won,” but it’s truly the left that cannot process his victory. “Trump Derangement Syndrome” has resulted in far too many of them not only claiming some sort of crippling psychological and spiritual pain from his presence in the White House, but attempting to claim moral virtue from it.
Will and Grace star Debra Messing exhibited this exact sentiment in her tweet about the cancellation, claiming that the “hate” from Trump supporters had “really taken a toll on all of our souls and psyches.”
I just heard #rosanne is cancelled. My reaction— tears. I am so relieved and grateful. The hate that has been spewing from those in Trump’s orbit has really taken a toll on all of our souls and psyches. I didn’t believe it would happen. I had lost faith. Thank you @abc .
— Debra Messing✍🏻 (@DebraMessing) May 29, 2018
Oh please. Before Trump got elected, Messing was a multimillionaire celebrity with a successful film and television career. After Trump got elected, she’s actually even better off, with the reboot of Will and Grace in September of last year. Her soul and psyche are not suffering, at least not because of the occupant of the White House.
I don’t like Roseanne Barr. I was not a fan of her show, either the original run or the reboot. Her abrasiveness has always outweighed the humor for me. And, again, her tweet about Jarrett was gross and racist. But let’s not pretend that Hollywood is engaged in some sort of righteous moral stand against racism.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.