ABC president Channing Dungey axed the reboot of the hit '90s TV show Roseanne this week after a horribly racist tweet by co-writer and star of the show, Roseanne Barr, the sounds of applause could be heard all over the world. Finally, a clear message was being sent to pro-Trump-Roseanne-Barr types that this kind of conservatism was not to be tolerated.
But it is tolerated. Because Americans voted for a president who is just that, and he continually spews his vitriol all over policy that further segregates our world. He is conservative and he is not going to change. The problem is that he's here now, and nobody can really stop him. So there's a lot of rage about that, and I feel that that rage has been aimed squarely at the next in line: Roseanne.
It seems if you think Roseanne should have stayed on air you are a pro-Trump conservative, but that couldn't be further from the truth. I have experienced a lot of racism in my life being born to migrant parents in Australia. I have been discriminated against. And in my experience, the only way to make change is to have conversations, not slam doors.
The reboot, which first aired on March 27, had a whopping 18.2 million viewers. But what's more important than these ratings is that she had a huge pro-Trump following. Roseanne had the ability to hold the attention and to communicate with that audience, to create stories and art that spoke directly to that audience, and that is such a powerful tool — maybe even a weapon — to be used to shift the conservatism that seems to be gripping our world. There is no denying that art has the power to do that.
For example, in episode one of the reboot, it is revealed that Roseanne and her sister Jackie haven't spoken for a year because of their political differences, and we get a glimpse into the thinking of a Trump supporter (Roseanne) which I found fascinating. Or in episode two Dan voices his concern for his grandson choosing to dress in glittery skirts and tries to convince his daughter Darlene not to allow it. But by the end of the episode he concedes. While to me, this is a no-brainer — the grandson should be allowed to dress however he likes — to a conservative who is listening (many of them only listen to the extremists they idolise) this is slow and steady change in the making.
I am no Trump supporter. I do not think celebrities should be running a country and I believe his Twitter feed to be abhorrent, littered with sexism and racism. But the facts are the facts. He is the President of the United States. The facts are he has a huge following that reaches every corner of the globe. It saddens me to say this — we truly live in dark times.
Now it seems that ABC is scrambling, trying to come up with ideas on how to keep the show alive without Roseanne Barr, without the "bad girl" who did a bad thing that needs to be taught a lesson. And that's great, there's a lot of brilliant talent working on the show. But without Roseanne we are just preaching to the converted. In my view, a better alternative would have been to have Roseanne address her racism within the show and have her concede. It would have been brilliant TV to watch and the show could have been able to make a real difference.
The thing is, Roseanne has a long history of being loud and outspoken and inappropriate. ABC knew this when it made the reboot — so why make the show in the first place? With the decision to axe the show, it seems there was some line that maybe Roseanne wasn't aware of. She had been known to make openly racist comments in the past. Therefore, in a way, this was bound to happen. She would have crossed the line in some other way. Unfortunately for Roseanne, I'm not sure she was made aware of where the line was, because if her President is being openly racist, and she is governed by a society that is so, and she has a history of speaking without thinking, and she was given a show based on who she is, why would she think she should act any different than her loudmouth self?
And one has to also point out, that Roseanne is a comedian. And there has always been this attitude of you can get away with anything in the name of comedy or satire. I remember watching Louis CK in his stand-up and his TV show and thinking, you've crossed the line. Yet he was praised and only had his show canned because he was accused of sexual harassment. Roseanne has not broken any laws.
It seems that we hold very high expectations of women to be "good girls" but men can often get away with whatever they like. One has to wonder, if she were not a Trump supporter, and she was being racist, and she was a man, would she have had this kind of treatment?
Koraly Dimitriadis is a freelance opinion writer and the author of Love and F**k Poems. www.koralydimitriadis.com. Twitter: @koralyd