Roseanne Barr was supposed to be a football player.
It may still be on the air, the protagonist of the well-received awakening of its successful series, after being “penalized” by its employer in ways that have not been disclosed.
Alas, Roseanne was not so lucky. He has worked on television, an industry that is rushing to unplug from the stars, and others, who are accused of breaking some standards, usually determined by moralists, which differ from morals and which are often the goals of people who simply they wear like their politics.
Roseanne is one of the most important victims of what has become known as “erase culture”, a dangerous movement in which people who claim to be offended, injured or frightened are not content with talking or dropping potato chips where they could public opinion that decides on the basis of ratings whether the celebrity’s welcome is worn out.
Compare the fate and transgression of Roseanne with that of DeSean Jackson, a broad receiver of Philadelphia Eagles who, in a Tweet, the same means used by Roseanne, repeated tripe without sense on the Jewish people and on its history that came from the bigot Louis Farrakhan which quoted Adolf Hitler.
Yes, that Adolf Hitler.
The connection could not be lost. Hitler’s name and the words “Hitler said” were on Jackson’s Tweet.
Jackson insulted an entire group of people with discredited information from a discredited source and was able to get away with apologizing and saying that he didn’t know what he was doing and didn’t intend to harm anyone.
Someone takes a violin.
Eagles did not help things. They released a formulaic statement about what Jackson said, added that they had spoken extensively with their player and concluded with unlisted “penalties”.
Jackson did something excellent. An adult person should know that “Hitler” is not a person to be mentioned. Everyone involved, including the Eagles, a team with a Jewish owner, a Jewish general manager and Jews among its fan base and ticket holders, should admit that what Jackson published was blatantly anti-Semitic and harmful to the whole Jewish people. The team should also have listed the penalties.
They obviously don’t include the summary layoff, which is what Ms. Barr was handed over by ABC and its parent company, Disney.
Roseanne’s gaffe was wrong, and like Jackson’s unnecessary, but on a scale of horrible and ignorant things on Tweet, it is a 4 compared to Jackson’s 11 offside, exacerbated by ex NBA player Stephen Jackson who has defended his DeSean and also cited history to support that defense.
To remember, Roseanne was labeled a racist and took off for a few weeks in the renewed success of her TV show, “Roseanne”, when she posted an inappropriate tweet about President Barack Obama’s assistant for public engagement and intergovernmental affairs, Valerie Jarrett. In that Tweet, he was referring to Ms Jarrett, who is Black, as “ape”, a term used pejoratively by bigots to refer to blacks.
Was the Tweet wise? No. Did it violate civilization, decorum and taste by possibly exposing prejudices? Yup.
Does it guarantee the exclusion and the request to “cancel the culture” to never work again? No.
People say wrong things. I haven’t talked to Roseanne Barr for 36 years, but I wonder, as I’ve always wondered and expressed previously, if “monkey” was what she meant, or an unfortunate first thing that came to mind. If he had used “worm” or “weasel”, would the cry and punishment have been so great?
What I’m looking for is proportion. If Roseanne Barr can lose everything she worked for because of a poorly chosen partner for Valerie Jarrett, someone, for all her power in the Obama years, few people know or worry, because DeSean Jackson gets such a light and light rather pampering, a slap on the wrist when repeating disgusting fantasies that affect an entire people?
Interestingly, and perhaps surprisingly, I don’t want the Eagles to cut DeSean Jackson or the NFL to ban his playing.
Proportion, or parity, I am looking for spare parts to “cancel the culture.
If DeSean adapts to the Eagles and accepts the invitation from New England Patriot receiver Julian Edelman to discuss the Jewish reaction to his statements, Roseanne Barr should not be able to apologize and continue to make people laugh. (“The Conners”, the ABC show made from the ashes of “Roseanne” got good, but “Roseanne” with Roseanne was better.)
If eagles could be so benign and professional, ABC can’t. Are you so afraid of advertisers that you can’t give someone a new chance?
Wouldn’t it have been nice if Valerie Jarrett, not known for her kindness, had come out to forgive Roseanne in the way Jewish groups fall by themselves to do for DeSean?
People are people. They make mistakes. Sometimes they act silly. And they often speak out of turn.
Roseanne was kicked out of television by a network and a company that I consider cowards rather than decent defenders and good feelings in doing so. DeSean, whatever the “sanction” unknown is embraced and “understood”.
Am I the only one who thinks this tastes of hypocrisy and a double standard?
If it were up to me, Roseanne Barr would have returned to television, Curt Schilling would have been a commentator in a major sports outlet, Woody Allen’s films would have starred in theaters and DeSean Jackson would have been in the field for eagles.
I believe, as Portia says in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice”, that the quality of mercy should not be put to the test. As Portia explains, both the person who forgives and the person who asks for forgiveness is blessed.
To continue with Shakespeare, this time from “Hamlet”, if everyone is bruised for every act, “who must ‘run away from the whip”.
The world has become childish. It is not enough to call a foul. “Undo culture” requires a person who draws a person to never be able to play again.
Neither Ms. Barr nor Mr. Jackson committed a crime. They used their first amendment to communicate. They used it stupidly, but one was blocked when the other caused no national sensation.
As I doubt Roseanne would have had if the “cancellers” had not suffered an immediate turmoil.
The difference that Jackson could make in the 2020 team could be the deciding factor here. I see people gritting Roseanne’s teeth wondering out loud how they should treat DeSean. Would the Eagles have discharged DeSean, justifying Chip Kelly’s assessment, if his expulsion would not have cost $ 4.8 million in guaranteed payments and damages to their salary cap?
Maybe. Jackson’s treatment by the Eagles, the NFL, Julian Edelman and fans in general may set a new standard for recognizing that celebrities are human (and should not make political statements anyway).
We become more charitable in general. Let’s step back to the supporters of “clear culture” and tell them that we will decide who we want to watch or cheer, as the ratings will appear.
Let’s stop hating, triggering and capturing and let people, those who do nothing criminal, be themselves.
Perspective and proportion are everything. I am happy that eagles know this. I wish the entertainment industry, and in particular its television section, would do it.
Sports and running
In preparation for last weekend’s 31st Annual American Century Championship, a golf tournament featuring sports and entertainment celebrities, including former Phillies second base Chase Utley, Damon Hack for the first time this year. GOLF Channel held a series of round table interviews on “Race and sport in America.”
In these discussions, which will air tonight at 8 pm on NBC Sports Philadelphia and the NBC Sports Network, there are two big Philadelphia Sports fans, former Phillies short Jimmy Rollins and former Sixers favorite Charles Barkley. They and others, such as Golden State Warriors member Stephen Curry, talk to Hack about social justice, the locker room conversations about race and how sports can be a tool to fight inequality.
Smerconish gives the theater its due
Theater has been an integral part of my life for over 50 years. In this world of care and quarantine, I can’t go to a theater. In fact, I fear that live entertainment will be one of the most recent and difficult forms to present securely as dialogues and songs are projected and an audience is required.
I can recite theatrical performances, script in hand. I can watch productions via video or on television. The Teatro delle Lanterne puts on a nice “Due lords of Verona” with the actors who read from their homes.
I still miss being there. So I had fun when Michael Smerconish made his first one-hour CNN special from Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope.
Yes, I like listening to Michael, but seeing the Playhouse in the room was a special delight. I may have to go to his Deck Restaurant for a meal, perhaps a Friday lobster roll, to calm my anxiety.
Neal Zoren’s television column appears every Monday.