Fallen Idols | Second Chances | Roseanne
We are living during a time when our social norms and our collective thinking as one society are being continuously re-defined. One area in particular is in regards to our fallen idols. Some idolized members of society enjoyed being notoriously revered and/or powerful, but have as of late had the veil of secrecy that hid their sexism or racism lifted. This exposition of the unsavory side of these idols has led to many of them losing their jobs and titles, and at times facing legal prosecution.
A direct effect of exposing these former idols of society and business, for what they truly are and refusing to let their clout or status in any way determine judgment about their actions, is that now we have to decide what to do with them.
Many affluent people that support these fallen idols have brought up the possibility of forgiveness and redemption. Some feel these idols became titans in their industry because they had a particular talent for what they did, so although the said individual may have made terrible decisions, their contributions in the work sphere can still be appreciated. Others feel that there is a moral and ethical threshold that once crossed, merits a permanent expulsion.
Enter, Roseanne Barr.
Roseanne Barr was given a once in a lifetime opportunity, the chance to reboot her eponymous titled TV sitcom. "Roseanne" premiered to huge ratings, and although Roseanne had made statements in the past that were racist or problematic, the overall consensus was that the show had the ability to do some cultural good, to help shed light on the day to day life and struggles of a non-coastal, working class, American family. The show to a degree was successful because the writing, the development of the established characters, and the new characters, all worked well and was genuinely entertaining to watch.
The success of the "Roseanne" reboot led to ABC granting the show a second season. But, the good news would not last for the show.
On May 28, 2018, Roseanne tweeted:
“muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.”
Roseanne’s tweet was aimed at former Obama senior advisor, Valerie Jarrett. The tweet was met with immediate condemnation from liberals, some conservatives, entertainment and media individuals, and even the shows co-stars as racist. Notably, after Roseanne’s tweet, Wanda Sykes, a consulting producer, made it publicly known she would be returning to work for the show.
A network cancelling a hit show, in such a decisive and quick manner, is rarely seen. The decision to cancel "Roseanne" by Disney/ABC Television Group, was undoubtedly the right one for ethical, humane, and moral reasons. No matter how much Roseanne apologizes for what she said, her tweet left the network no other choice. Roseanne crossed the line in the sand, the moral and ethical threshold that simply cannot be ignored.
Roseanne’s situation is important because it is one of few examples, in which an individual despite having a problematic private life was given a second chance at success. Roseanne’s second chance at success is not similar to other “comeback” stories in which an individual may have had a drinking or drug problem, because those bad decisions only hurt the individual. Racism actively hurts and promotes the degradation of others. Roseanne was given a second chance in spite of many saying she did not deserve the platform, and was not a changed woman.
Roseanne’s tweet about Valerie Jarrett was not the first time she made comparisons between a black woman and an ape. Susan Rice, a former security advisor during the Obama administration, was also the subject of one of Roseanne’s tweets:
“susan rice is a man with big swinging ape balls.”
Now that history has essentially repeated itself, one cannot help but wonder how will Roseanne Barr factor in during the discussions of giving fallen idols a second chance. Roseanne may have been the working class mom with a heart of gold on her show, but the real Roseanne, the one who equates black woman as apelike, and peddles conspiracy theories, that’s the one who was really given a second chance. Roseanne’s racist and conspiracy obsessed problematic past was in a sense forgiven, put to the side, in order for the Roseanne reboot to take place. Roseanne blew her second chance. But, did she blow it for everyone else?
Roseanne was given the type of clean slate second chance so many who have had their careers taken away from them in recent years because of bad behavior could only dream about. It is precisely because as a nation we are still uncertain whether it is possible to forgive some fallen idols that it heightens the seriousness of the Roseanne situation. In this specific instance, a second chance was extended to a woman to relive her glory days with the best project she ever worked on, a sitcom that made her an idol to millions, and in return she showed a tiger cannot change its stripes.
The “Roseanne” lesson won’t affect every fallen idol, because some of them are being judged in the court of law. Other individuals, however, are being judged in the court of public opinion. These are the individuals who stand to loose the most because of what happened with Roseanne, because whether they get a second chance or not, can still go one way or the other.