Somebody Explain To Roseanne Barr What A Double Standard Is

I guess I should start off by admitting that I have never found Roseanne Barr sufficiently witty, original or entertaining to make up for the ugliness of her world view, her horrible nasal screech, and her unjustified belief in her own brilliance.

I never could stand her hit sitcom or sit through an entire episode, so the reboot was about as welcome to me as most reboots (like the sad zombie version of “Murphy Brown”), but even a little less. When she managed to get herself fired and transformed into a pariah for making a racist slur against Barack Obama’s top advisor (and Michelle’s pal) Valerie Jarrett, tweeting in 2018 that Jarrett was the offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Planet of the Apes movies, I didn’t feel sorry for her. The tweet was racist, and it was a mark of Barr’s arrogance, built up over years of being excessively praised and rewarded for being “outrageous”—I file her in the same general category as similarly unfunny shock-jocks like Howard Stern—that no ethics alarms went off when she thought it would be hilarious to compare an Obama staffer to a monkey. It was also stunningly stupid. From my ethicist perspective, Barr made the offense worse by claiming that she had no idea that Jarrett was black. Sure, Roseanne. Barr was about as cancelled in Hollywood as someone can be. I’m sure that’s traumatic, but she has  lots of money, she squeezed a fortune out of a modicum of talent and an obnoxious persona, and again, she deserved her fate, like Mel Gibson, whose drunken anti-Jewish rant during a police encounter effectively ended his career (and Gibson, unlike Roseanne, is very talented) and “Seinfeld” star Michael Richards, whose career crashed when he was moved for some reason to start screaming “Nigger!” at a black audience member during a stand-up appearance.

Now she’s “baaaaack,” with a stand-up special next week on Fox Nation titled “Roseanne Barr: Cancel This!” This justified the Los Angeles Times giving her an interview, which Barr took as an opportunity to whine about how unfairly she’s been treated for one little late-night tweet.

“It was a witch-burning. They [ABC] denied me the right to apologize. Oh my God, they just hated me so badly. I had never known that they hated me like that. They hate me because I have talent, because I have an opinion. Even though “Roseanne” became their No. 1 show, they’d rather not have a No. 1 show … When they killed my character off, that was a message to me – knowing that I’m mentally ill or have mental health issues – that they did want me to commit suicide.”

Oh boy, there it is, the mental health issues excuse. Usually it’s alcoholism that publicists have their celebrity clients resort to when they misbehave massively; that was Gibson’s desperate excuse. Virtually all performers have mental health issues; if they were normal, they wouldn’t be performers. And the woman actually said “they hate me because I have talent”! She’s a parody of a bitter and deluded ex-star.

In another part of the interview, Roseanne expands on her persecution complex by complaining that other stars have gotten reprieves for their transgressions, while she has been subjected to a harsher standard:

“They didn’t do it to anyone else in Hollywood, although they always [mention] Dave Chappelle and Louis C.K.. Well, Louis C.K. did lose everything, but he committed an actual [crime]. And Dave Chappelle was protected by Netflix. I’m the only person who’s lost everything, whose life’s work was stolen, stolen by people who I thought loved me. And there was silence. There was no one in Hollywood really defending me publicly.”

In fact, she’s not “the only one”—Kevin Spacey, who has yet to be convicted of anything, would like a word, and there are others—but Roseanne is focusing narrowly on comedians, so let’s let that pass. Roseanne is exhibiting the same amazing ignorance about the status of race in this country that led her to issue a racial slur against Valerie Jarrett. It is not equivalent to gender issues, or even sexual harassment. Unequivocal racism is the third rail of U.S. society right now, and nothing else is close. Roseanne being cancelled wasn’t the result of a double standard, it was due to the application of a single, clear, well-publicized standard. Open racism is not tolerated in this culture and society. On the cognitive dissonance scale, it is at the very bottom, a veritable black hole that no positive reputation or record is strong enough to resist. That is why nobody (except comic actress Monique, who is black) came forward to defend Barr, whose  tweet was indefensible and signature significance): in today’s society, defending a racist risks being branded a racist.

Comedians are supposed to be social commentators; if Barr hasn’t figured this out yet, she’s hopeless.

15 thoughts on “Somebody Explain To Roseanne Barr What A Double Standard Is

  1. On the other hand, as Anthony Hopkins said, “Actors are pretty stupid”.

    With that astute observation in mind combined with her overall impulsive, obnoxious personality, I find it believable that Roseanne mouthed off on a person or subject that she knew nothing about. She may not have known Jarrett was black.

    That being said, it is certainly possible that she knew. That’s the problem, isn’t it? We can’t know for certain what a person does or doesn’t know.

    You are correct, however, that her interview above was astoundingly stupid. It’s exactly what I’ve come to expect of Roseanne. Does she not have a publicist that would discourage these types of displays? Is there a publicist out there that would even work with her?

  2. Planet of the Apes is a movie that had more than one run in the theatres, but I didn’t know it was racist. I’ve never seen any of the films, but I am familiar with the line ‘keep your hands off me, you damn dirty apes!’
    Barr is probably a terrible person, but I wasn’t able to see the racism in the Planet of the Apes reference. I thought the Muslim Brotherhood reference was the offense.
    At the time of Barr’s tweet, I didn’t know what Valerie Jarrett looked like or what color she was.
    I didn’t know that Barr was referring to Jarrett, either, as she is only identified as ‘VJ’ in the tweet. It seems like people bent over backwards in an effort to call Barr/the tweet racist.
    I still don’t see it. The leap from apes to monkeys to blacks seems contrived.

    • Wait—nobody has ever credibly claimed that POTA is racist. She called a black woman an ape….if someone is a cross between something and “Planet of the Apes”, he or she is part ape. Barr certainly wasn’t calling Jarrett a movie. If Barr had used “Curious George,” “Gorillas in the Mist” or “King King,” her tweet would have meant the same thing. There’s no “leap” involved. If she said Mitch McConnell was something out of “Jurassic Park,” she would be saying clearly that he’s a dinosaur. If she said Mitch was a cross between Lawrence Welk and “Jurassic Park,” she would be calling him an old, white, male dinosaur. Jarett’s case is easy: she’s part Iranian—“Muslim Brotherhood”—and part black, which Barr equates to “Planet of the Apes,” see, in effect calling blacks talking “apes”/inhuman/lower primates.

      It was rather direct, which made her efforts to wiggle out of it ridiculous. I guarentee that a baseball player who called SD pitcher Yu Darvish, who is Iranian/Japanese, what Barr called Jarrett, he would be suspended, fined, and maybe released. Calling Japanese monkees was a WWII racist trope. The player wouldn’t be in as much trouble as Barr, primarily because anti-black racism is at the top of the taboo list. (Anti-white racism doesn’t make the list at all.)

  3. Brendan Sinclair:

    “The leap from apes to monkeys to blacks seems contrived.”

    In many cases, it is, but there is a historical basis for making that connection.

    At the time this happened, I recall googling Jarrett. I thought she was Iranian, but apparently she also has black ancestors.

    At any rate, the image that popped up on my computer when I searched her was a photo that gave her face a very “plasticky” look. With the Planet of the Apes reference in mind, my immediate reaction was that I saw the connection I thought Barr was making.

    Barr later admitted it was a racist comment. Whether she was groveling or being honest, I don’t know. But, take it for what it is worth.


    • Here is as good a place as any to note that this episode reflects on our earlier discussion about my expert deposition, in which I had the argument about whether one had to be an “expert” to state that being perceived as racist in the US was unequivocally a serious social, reputational, career and business handicap (unless one is in the racism business). Can this safely be called a “fact”? Would anyone in academia, social science, politics, journalism or the law honestly dispute it? Would a judge take judicial notice of it as something that did not need to be proven? Or is it just “conventional wisdom,” to quote John Kenneth Galbraith?

  4. I consider Barr and Sonia Sotomayor two peas in a pod. Certainly visually and I think they both play the wise (ass in Barr’s case) Latina card to the point it’s been worn out and their entire decks need to be replaced.

  5. I wouldn’t give that political hack piece of shit Roseanne Barr the time of day and I don’t give a flying fuck what she says or thinks about anything. She doesn’t want anyone to fix her kind of stupidity.

  6. The Valerie Jarrett thing is another example, like Obama, of the current state of the One Drop Rule. It used to be used by segregationists to neutralize and discriminate against mixed race people. It’s more recently been adopted by race hustlers and made a boon to their cause. Currently, if you have ANY black parentage, you’re BLACK! The whiteness simply disappears. Poof! It’s just not a tenable situation. And it’s certainly ironic as hell.

  7. Open racism is not tolerated in this culture and society.

    This is categorically untrue. Open racism against certain groups is not tolerated, but open racism against whites is not only tolerated, it is celebrated. It is mandated to be taught in schools. It is legislated in congress. Anyone not espousing anti-white racism is labeled a bigot.

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