The last 24 hours must have been pretty confusing for Roseanne Barr.
In short order, she has seen her revived hit series Roseanne cancelled, been dropped by her talent agency and been roundly condemned by fellow comedians and celebrities, including costars from her show. On top of that, she’s pretty much ensured that her legacy as a trailblazing maverick comedian has been tarnished irreparably.
And she managed all of this with a single tweet.
In case you’re not up to speed, Barr took a sideswipe at former US president Barack Obama’s senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, yesterday, in a tweet comparing Jarrett to an ape.
The tweet has since been deleted, but the internet never forgets. Barr suddenly found herself at the centre of a hurricane of ire and her career burning to the ground around her. A brief apology to Jarrett saying she had made “a bad joke” hasn’t helped.
As disgusting as Barr’s comments towards Jarrett are, they’re not shocking – well, not if you’ve followed Barr on Twitter for the last few years.
Since taking to the platform, she has posted everything from vitriolic slurs to bonkers conspiracy theories and more. She accused a survivor of the Parklands shooting of being a Nazi and even voiced her belief the ludicrous Pizzagate scandal was true. To say she had a rather toxic presence on social media would be something of an understatement.
This is why she has to be reeling in confusion. After all, it’s not like hurling abuse on Twitter had slowed her down much – in spite of her online shenanigans, family-friendly Disney-owned ABC revived her show Roseanne, and it played to massive ratings. The show received rave reviews. President Donald Trump called to congratulate her on the show’s success, presumably when he had a couple of minutes between declaring London a war zone and threatening North Korea with nuclear war.
On top of all that, she lives in a country in which, over the last couple of years, white supremacists have marched through the streets of Charlottesville carrying tiki-torches, black NFL players have been vilified for silently protesting police brutality and racial inequality, and a man who described Mexican people as “rapists” and “drug dealers” has been elected president. In that climate, why the hell would anyone take action against her for calling a black woman an ape?
Barr’s actions speak to a very disturbing reality in the US at the moment. It’s one where racial prejudice and racists themselves have been endorsed by the country’s leader to the point where they’ve become emboldened. And while it’s gratifying to see that prejudice hasn’t been normalised, Barr clearly misread the room on this one. It’s slightly worrying that, as evinced by this latest firestorm, the United States seems to hold a comedian to a higher standard than its president.