Roseanne and the Blame Game

Actress Roseanne Barr in 2018

Actress Roseanne Barr in 2018
Down through the ages, school children have been known to blame someone or something else for their own shortcomings. Some of their more common excuses are: “I left my book report at home”, “I couldn’t study for the test because our electricity went out”, and their gold-standard excuse, “The dog ate my homework.” Fortunately, most kids grow out of playing the blame game, but others never do, and when you’re an adult who won’t accept responsibility for your actions, the blame game just makes matters worse. Such is the case with Roseanne Barr, arguably one of the funniest humans on the planet, and a pioneer in giving strong, middle class women a voice in prime time.

The original Roseanne show aired from 1988 to 1997, and it became an instant comedy classic. Then, last year, ABC decided to revive and update the series.

The new iteration proved to be a ratings blockbuster and a revenue windfall for ABC, who, to date has netted around $45 million dollars in ad sales. All was well in the Conner household until Barr, a serial tweeter and part-time conspiracy nut, went on a late night twitter rant in which she claimed that Valerie Jarrett (Obama’s former Chief of Staff) was the product of a marriage between the Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes.

A short time later, ABC’s president of entertainment Channing Dungey (an African-American) reportedly consulted with her friend Michelle Obama about Barr’s appalling tweet, and, within hours, the Roseanne re-boot had been booted from the network. Roseanne Barr was suddenly persona non grata, and some 300 cast and crew members were out of a job with no notice.

Some media analysts have pointed out that ABC should have never re-hired Barr in the first place because they were fully aware of her proclivity for using social media to make very anti-social remarks. It’s a valid point, but it’s also spilled milk. What’s done is done. Roseanne offered a public apology, but her mea culpa rang hollow. Why? Because instead of taking full responsibility for her racist behavior, she blamed the Jarrett tweet on having taken Ambien. And so, what we have here is a big-name racist celebrity who is essentially saying that the dog ate her homework. Did she deserve to be fired and did 300 people deserve to be laid-off? No, but she should have been required to attend mandatory sensitivity training, and required to stop using social media while her TV series was still on air.

Nevertheless, high profile people who play the blame game must think that the rest of us are stupid. News flash! No one believes that a pill or alcohol can make you develop prejudices that weren’t already there to begin with. And yet, serial offenders of one kind or another continue to think that blame is the best policy. Mel Gibson thought so in 2006 when he was pulled over by a Jewish cop for driving drunk. “Braveheart” spewed anti-Semitic slurs at the officer, and later said that alcohol made him say those things. In 2015, the man who murdered students at an Oregon community college blamed his violent act on being a virgin. Last year a convicted killer in Ohio appealed his sentence because he said that pain pills had made him slaughter two people in cold blood. And every year or so, we hear of a young mother who kills her baby and blames it on postpartum depression. Meanwhile, men who get caught cheating on their wives blame their behavior on a sex addiction, and men who grope their female employees, blame their victims for not being able to take a joke. And then there’s Hillary Clinton who, to this day, refuses to accept blame for her loss to Trump. Instead of admitting she was a flawed candidate who couldn’t identify with us regular folks, she blames the Russians.

In the end, I think we would have more tolerance for troubled individuals if they would just come clean in the first place, instead of playing the blame game.

My advice? Just say you forgot to do your homework, and stop throwing your dog under the bus. The dog doesn’t deserve that, and neither do we.

 
 

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