ABC had brought back Roseanne Barr, and at first all was well. Ratings were good, and as the BBC has reported, “critics praised the sitcom for tackling American political divisions in a manner sympathetic to the millions of people who voted for Mr Trump - a group which often complained that TV wasn't made for them any more - while still entertaining millions of his opponents”. Then Ms Barr began to express herself via Twitter.
And that was when it all began to go downhill, because what she Tweeted was neither funny, nor excusable. It was just plain racist. She “said Valerie Jarrett [long term aide to former President Obama] was the child of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Planet of the Apes film”. On top of that, she claimed that George Soros was a Nazi who turned his fellow Jews in to the Germans, while stealing their wealth.
Departures from the team lined up for the second series of the Roseanne revival began. She said she would be leaving Twitter. Then she belatedly began the apologies. It didn’t work. ABC has cancelled her show. But somewhere in Contrarian Land, the excuses were being readied. And there with them was Brendan O’Neill.
Bren starts almost coherently, telling “Her tweet was racist as hell. It wasn’t a joke. It wasn’t ‘un-PC’. It wasn’t a political remark that got a bit too spicy. It was racist … ABC is within its rights to cancel shows. This is what has happened to Barr: her recently resurrected sitcom Roseanne has been pulled” before going totally gaga.
“The unrestrained glee with which the liberal media and Twitterati have greeted the cancellation of Roseanne is not about Barr’s comments on Jarrett. Or more accurately, it isn’t only about that. They’re delighted primarily because they hate Barr. They loathe that she is an extraordinarily popular comedienne who bristles at and mocks the liberal elite. She hates Hillary. She has said positive things about Trump, the greatest no-no in LA”.
Er, WHAT? But there was more. “To the new left, anyone who cares primarily about ‘jobs’ is suspect because it means they prefer to focus on economic issues over the identitarian, emotionalist and esteem-driven blather that makes up so much of left thinking today”. Brendan, she was bang out of order. It’s got stuff all to do with the “new left”.
More relevant, as Ken Vogel noted, was that “GEORGE SOROS spokesperson responds to ROSEANNE's claim that he turned in fellow Jews to the Nazis, while stealing their wealth: ‘Such false allegations are insulting to the victims of the Holocaust’ & ‘an affront to Mr. Soros & his family, who against the odds managed to survive’”.
Or that, as Mehdi Hasan warned, Combover Crybaby Donald Trump would side with Roseanne the racist: “Lots of journos joking about the fact that Trump will mention Roseanne and her cancellation tonight. What's not funny is that we know the president of the United States will defend/promote an open racist tonight and the media won't call him out for it. It's baked in. Expected”. And the cries of “censorship” weren’t making it.
Not with Ricky Gervais, who knows a thing or two about rubbing up against the limits of acceptability: “This wasn't censorship. This was business. She hasn't been prosecuted. She hasn't been silenced. She can carry on saying what she wants. It's just that her employers have decided they don't want to employ her any more. This is freedom”.
And yet more relevant, as Bonnie Greer reminded everyone, was that “This #RoseanneCancelled really hasn't happened before. The head of the network-ABC Pres. #ChanningDungey is an African American woman. She did it, and her bosses backed her up It's pretty amazing”. Roseanne had been raking in the money for ABC. The easy decision would have been to continue letting it be raked in .
It took a brave network head, backed up by brave bosses, to do the right thing. But closeted away in his contrarian bunker, Brendan O’Neill bleats about the “new left”, while pretending the cancellation of Roseanne is some kind of “liberal media” stitch-up.
It’s about someone overstepping the mark, and someone else doing the right thing. If Brendan O’Neill can’t get his head round that, that is very much his problem.