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Twats and Tweets: Roseanne Barr and the Issue of Proportion

Can anything be said that doesn’t warrant an empaneled jury of twitting twats to determine the fate of an individual? It is evident that branding, marketing and selling can only be done in a context of controlled hypocrisy. Companies long happy to use celebrities as fronts for promoting products and the image of a television network have become obsessed with the idea of sensitivity.

While Roseanne Barr’s tweet describing former President Barack Obama’s senior advisor Valerie Jarrett in simian terms (“Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj”) was stingingly rude, the hammer option adopted towards her by the ABC was manic. Was the Roseanne Barr slated to return in her show meant to have been reformed, one more economical in her rattled, and rattling opinions?

The sense among the writers and producers was to fall in line. People were all meant to be horrified at this new creation, this new Barr. Executive producer David Caplan claimed to be helpless before the implications of the tweet. “I really wasn’t sure what to do because I didn’t feel like there was really any response to it. It was so far over the line and so loathsome that I suspected there might not be any coming back from it.”

Caplan recounted Barr during season 10 of the program. She was found to be “reasonable with the writers.” Despite disagreements regarding her political beliefs, she proved “reasonable to work with at that point.”

This suggests a bit of hand washing on Caplan’s part in anticipation of future employment: Barr’s tweet had nothing to do with work matters, and certainly nothing to with the scripting of the show. Keep new freaky marginalised, isolated, for fear of being contaminated.

This stomach-turning sanctimony can be found in the idea that the ABC network is magically tolerant (family values and all that), and that Barr was somehow out of step. Take Hal Boedeker, who happily marches to a tune that is not only discordant but silly.

In the Orlando Sentinel, the righteous Boedeker made the following observation held down by the assumptions of pure fantasy: “Disney sends the message that it welcomes all. Barr violated the Disney philosophy with her racist tweet about former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett.” As if it made any difference whatsoever, “Barr also had a history of bashing others with tweets, and she trafficked in conspiracy theories.”

What makes such mind addled assessments even more unearthly is the remark that Barr’s conspiracy theories do not cut it in the world of fantasy. (What runs for fantastic these days?) “Disney deals in fairy tales, not conspiracy theories.” A good reading of the text, subtext and inner meaning of many a fairy tale repudiates such a view. In-between readers such as academics keen to secure their next grant constitute, it could be said, a conspiracy of interpretation, finding a spectral hook upon which to hang upon the next questionable interpretation.

True to corporate form, the production vultures at the ABC are trying to find ways to move beyond RB for what is enthusiastically being proclaimed a salvation. Spin-offs are being sought, though they must be emphatic on one point: the absence of the protagonist that made it to begin with. In the manner that resembles something of a theft, Barr, according to The Hollywood Reporter, “would not be able to financially benefit from any new incarnation of the series.” (Legal minds, ready yourselves).

The point about Barr is that she never changed, which might well be the problem. To understand the market and the nature of one’s employer is to understand how hypocrisies and cant might change at any given moment in time. The fury directed against her is the misplaced anger of the trend follower with the attention span of a light lured moth.

Treating Barr in such a manner is also bound to encourage others to come out with their scything swipes. An example is provided by Jonathan S. Tobin in The National Review, who has asked for “an amnesty for speech offenses.” If Barr can be sent to the television’s salt mines for a racist tweet “why shouldn’t Samantha Bee lose hers for a presumably scripted line on her show in which she called Ivanka Trump a c#nt and implied that she could get her father to change her mind about an issue by wearing something tight and low cut?”

Ironically enough, in the age of Trump, where the ad hominem remark has been given a whole new lease of life, becoming total, normal and unstoppable, mechanisms of control and punishment are finding their bearings. Trust broadcasting to be one of them in their righteous corrections.

Those familiar enough with Barr would have taken her comment as deserving of a chastising, disturbed rebuke, a point she would have been more than capable of accepting. But debate before the lynch mob is nigh impossible. The noose speaks volumes, and expression can gradually slide into a dull, controlled oblivion.


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  1. David Fitzpatrick

    Really, who cares if they play Heavy Metal or Light Opera as they separate the children from their parents? And who cares if a white man or a black man orders it, and who cares what he looks like?

  2. king1394

    Meanwhile, unarmed black men are frequently shot dead by police officers, who certainly don’t lose their jobs

  3. DrakeN

    “Haters gotta hate.”
    …and the unconstrained antisocial media give them anonymity and all-too-visible presence.

    Psychopathy and sociopathy thrive along with dramatically increasing incidences of anxiety and clinical depression.

    “Love is all you need…” as the Episcopalian Primate expounded in his enthusiastic, but over lengthy, homily at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meagan.

    However, as population has increased, the limited amount of kindliness previously available has now been spread even more thinly – to a point where it is barely able to shade the glare of popular detestation of anything which appears vaguely socially responsible and/or benevolent to those in need.

    There seems to be nothing more satisfying to them than kicking at ‘losers’ lying in the gutter.

  4. diannaart

    Roseanne’s show was axed for her usual behaviour – racist – nothing new there.

    Yet Donald remains president – his behaviour hasn’t changed either.

  5. Michael Taylor

    Hard to fathom, isn’t it, Dianna? 😡

  6. townsvilleblog

    Roseanne takes us back to a time where we could laugh at ourselves before being politically correct ruined comedy.

  7. Kronomex

    Don’t forget that Disney, the masters of goodness and niceness, owns the ABC and as such won’t miss any chance to suck a franchise dry. Just look at what they are doing with Star Wars.

  8. diannaart

    @ Michael

    People are having difficulty separating reality from entertainment.

    @ townesvillblog

    I dunno if many black Americans would find much to laugh about – Roseanna was expressing her personal opinion very publicly via Tweet.

    Samantha Bee was performing a satirical show, not unusual for satirists to use profanity. If Samantha personally attacks via Tweet I am yet to be made aware.

    Compare oranges with (very orange) oranges – Trump who bullies via his infamous tweets?

    Perhaps, in future, remember, way back in the mists of time, the much demonised term “political correctness” used to be about treating others with courtesy and respect.

    And, FYI, I don’t believe Barr’s show should’ve been axed – just the lead character.

  9. silkworm

    Roseanne’s conspiracy theories go well beyond fantastic. She is into the thoroughly stupid pizzagate.

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