This Business With Roseanne Barr

Are we really surprised?

Seriously, are we so surprised that Roseanne Barr said something idiotic and despicable? She’s been this way her entire career.

Her comedy was mildly amusing, at best, but there seemed to be something cooking under the surface (turns out it was hatred). Barr’s comedy comes from and is delivered with vitriol. We’ve had “angry” comedians in the past, like Richard Pryor or shows like All In the Family, but they always pointed towards social commentary and held a mirror up to society. In the worst sense possible, Barr did that the other day.

Is that who we’ve become, or is it who we’ve been all along?

But just where did Barr’s anger toward Valerie Jarret come from? What was the trigger? I can’t seem to find anything in the news. Is it just the typical hatred of anything and anyone from the Obama administration? Perhaps.

Now the internet and media are calling for the head of Bill Maher for a “joke” he made comparing Donald Trump and an orangutan. Look, I’m progressive, but even I find Bill Maher awful. Sure, his politics are more in line with mine, but he is just as unfunny and unimportant as Rosanne Barr.

Both of their “jokes” are awful, but where one is absurd and unfunny the other originates in institutionalized racism and is unfunny (but it IS funny that Trump thought it necessary to send Maher a copy of his birth certificate to prove he wasn’t of orangutan lineage). Where she is bitter, he radiates arrogance.

Did the punishment fit the crime? Honestly, I do struggle with that. Dozens of people lost their job because of her idiocy, and that seems unfair, but I’ve no doubt ABC will do right by them. Although, over the long-term, this whole thing will ultimately take food off their tables.

Also, was there a missed opportunity to deal with this issue and the aftermath on the show? Roseanne has always prided itself on its verisimilitude; I think it might have been interesting to hold Barr accountable in that forum.

I’ve spent much too much time thinking about this whole thing. It’s a drag because it appears to speak to the fact that we still have a pervasive race issue. No, not surprising, but I honestly would’ve thought we’ve moved beyond a point where even the thought of saying something like what Barr said in public would be inconceivable. Naïve? Perhaps.

So, just where did Barr get the hubris to think she could get away with tweeting racist remarks? Well, it turns out that someone with these sorts of beliefs, and also acts horribly toward women, can get themselves elected to the highest levels of government. Go figure.

That’s terrifying.

But look, I don’t have a horse in this race, and ABC Entertainment Group head Channing Dungey did the right thing. Despite the financial consequences, she moved swiftly, decisively and appropriately to draw a very distinct line that is not to be crossed, regardless of celebrity.

That’s important.

Originally published on May 30, 2018