It’s been a week of name calling. But then, isn’t that the American way nowadays?
Years ago when talk-show host Jerry Springer was on my radio program, we talked about the ridiculousness of his daytime show. Just when you think you’ve seen the weirdest of the weird, there’s something even more bizarre in the next segment.
It had me question him about being shocked by what happens on his show. To my surprise, he said he’s not affected by it.
At the time, a reality-show star wasn’t the president. The country wasn’t so divided on even the most basic issues. Terror attacks were only just beginning to happen with some frequency. But Springer said when you’ve lived as long as he has, you’re almost numb to it.
And this week we were tested even more with Roseanne Barr calling a black woman an ape and Samantha Bee calling Ivanka Trump a cunt. There was shock, there was outrage — there was the feeling that we’d never heard such language before. But we have. A lot. So why was it so outrageous this week?
Maybe the shock came from the people saying the words and not so much the words themselves. Maybe it was the timing because it hit you when you were scrolling through tweets or tuned into a cable TV show.
For me, the major shock with Roseanne was how quickly ABC went in and cancelled her sitcom. When the show returned after a couple of decades and was a ratings success, it seemed unlikely that a one-sentence tweet could do it in.
The fallout from the tweet was the most shocking to me. ABC/Disney’s actions were one thing but the celebrities — some were colleagues and friends — blasted her and wanted nothing to do with her, even some quitting the show hours before it was cancelled.
Much like Kathy Griffin experienced for almost a year after her blood-soaked Trump head photo, it looks like Roseanne will be a pariah for quite some time.
As for Bee, there is some debate about the need for name calling on what should be a comedy show. I actually agree with that point. It’s one thing to use vulgarities when telling a story or making a joke in a comedy act, but to flat out name call out of nowhere is pretty disrespectful. Like Barr, people are calling for Bee’s firing. Even TBS, the network airing Bee’s show, apologized and said it screwed up for airing the comment.
See, there’s a difference here. Roseanne’s tweet was from her own fingertips on her own social media page. Bee’s comment went through writers, editors and network censors making programming decisions for a TV show. That group thought it was OK to air the C-word so why is Bee at fault? I’m not saying she was right for using the word but ultimately other people made the decision to let it be heard publicly.
Let’s turn the tables. I’ve said for a long time that if someone comes at me with an insult or a nasty name, the last thing I’m going to do is take their message to heart. If someone were to present an argument or criticism to me in a professional way, then I might take more notice about what they’re trying to say.
Did Bee make her point? I guess so. If someone goes on a rambling rant and then suddenly called me a cunt, they pretty much lost all credibility and I stopped listening right then and there.
Lately I wonder if it’s an overly sensitive society or one that’s just ready for a fight. I sit and wonder… as a happy Canadian.