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Have you ever had a moment that you wish could be erased from history? May 29, 2018, I had one. My Facebook is littered with pop culture talk because, well, I love pop culture. As I was covering the big story, Roseanne Barr's racist tweets, for various websites yesterday, I found myself making a status. This status basically said that Roseanne would not be canceled because it was the highest rated show on TV and ABC would not give up that ad revenue. As if Channing Dungey was just waiting for me to post it, the minute my status went live, so did the news that the sitcom had, in fact, been canceled. Ouch. People celebrated, but Barr still had her supporters, who were out in full force. They keep repeating the same stances; Bill Maher said the "N" word, Joy Behar called Mike Pence mentally ill, her show was canceled because she's conservative. Let's debunk these arguments one by one, shall we?
Earlier this year, Bill Maher found himself involved in some controversy after he uttered the 'N' word. Because his show airs on HBO, no advertisers threatened to pull out of his show, and the premium cable network slapped him on the wrist. Things went on as usual with the host. Now that Roseanne Barr's tweets have ended her hit sitcom, her supporters are wondering why there is a double standard for Maher. The simple answer is this: he doesn't answer to ABC bosses anymore and hasn't for many years. Let me repeat this, so it makes sense, Real Time with Bill Maher is not a show that ABC has any control over. It is an HBO show, and they have their own standards. This is not a situation with double standards, it's a situation with two different companies deciding what is best for them. And controversy is good for business.
Speaking of controversy being good for business, Behar is no stranger to this concept. Over her time on the show, she has been part of so many scandals that I don't even know how to add them all up. Her most recent revolved around saying that she believed that VP Mike Pence was mentally ill for talking to Jesus. Roseanne Barr defenders say that this was out of line and she should be fired. Here's the thing, The View thrives on this sort of discord and seeing as it falls under the umbrella of ABC News, she's not going anywhere. Behar did not walk back her comment, claiming it as a "bad joke" as Barr did. Nor did she double down on what some are calling her "anti-christian" stance. When she was asked to apologize, she did and then moved on. The major difference here is that not only did Behar own what she said, but she was doing her job when the controversy hit. Was it in bad taste? Probably. But unlike Barr, the debate helped ratings, and that's what producers wanted.
Roseanne is a conservative.
Really? This is the argument that we're going to go with to prove a point? One of the reasons why the revival was greenlit in the first place was to show the conservative point of view. The reason that Roseanne was canceled is the titular star made a racist, hate-filled tweet about a former advisor to President Obama. Not only that but she harassed the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In that tweet, she attacked Holocaust survivor George Soros. But yes, this has to do with her politics. As I pointed out to a friend of mine, if I were to do the same thing, my clients would drop me without a second thought. Amazon would unpublish my books and kick me off their platform. Let's not play the blame politics game. It wasn't true of Last Man Standing, and it's not right here either.
Freedom of Speech
This wasn't on the list, but it needs to be addressed. The Constitution does guarantee us the right to say what we want, without fear of retribution from the government. It's why it was recently ruled that Trump cannot block people on Twitter. What it does not promise is that our employers cannot punish us for what we say. When I was a manager, I warned people to watch what they said on social media because it could cost them their job. The same is true with celebrities. Maybe even more so with them. Here's what I find confounding about this argument, the same people who are crying that Barr has freedom of speech were the same ones decrying football players for taking a knee during the National Anthem. I guess the cancelation of a sitcom is more important than bringing light to the lives of black men and women being killed every day by police officers to them. And that's why Black Lives Matter and other organizations like that are around.
Will Roseanne Barr work again after this controversy? Probably after the dust has settled. Look no further than last year's pariah, Kathy Griffin. Nobody thought that she would make a comeback, but she is selling out venues across the country for her latest tour. Hopefully, someone takes Barr's Twitter away from her for a while and let her contemplate what she really wants out of life. And this experience is a teaching moment for her.