I watched Roseanne when it originally came on, and it was fine. Not uproariously funny, but not terrible, and it worked for the first few seasons till the behind-the-scenes drama took over. (This seems familiar …)
I didn’t watch the revival. But then, I rarely watch actual TV anymore, and just stream a few shows on my computer. I find myself shocked many times when hearing of a TV show being canceled that I never even knew was on. Roseanne, though, I knew about. How could I not?
When Roseanne’s tweetstorm blew up in her face last Tuesday, I was genuinely surprised that some people apparently didn’t see it coming.
Seriously? The woman who screeched the national anthem, grabbed her crotch and spit at a baseball game nearly 30 years ago? The numerous work and family issues (including that tempestuous Tom Arnold marriage)? Dressing as Hitler? Tweeting the home address of George Zimmerman’s parents?
Really? She’s never exactly been known for her ability to control her worst impulses.
And gee, I’ve been taking Ambien for years and have yet to go on racist and conspiratorial rants. The worst I’ve done while taking it has been … uh … still not being able to sleep. I don’t even get the weird side effects like sleep-eating. I’d love to do some sleep-cleaning, and yet it never happens.
Some people, predictably, see nothing but politics behind the cancellation, especially considering that the next day, Samantha Bee uttered a certain vulgarity about Ivanka Trump. But no, I see the cancellation mostly as just being the consequences of Roseanne’s action, and indicative of our growing incivility (like that vulgarity). What I find most egregious is that other very talented people lost their jobs because of it.
She’s far from the first person to have to answer for what she’s said on social media or elsewhere, and likely won’t be the last.
Kathy Griffin quickly lost her job hosting CNN’s New Year’s Eve special after posting a photo of herself holding a bloodied fake Trump head. Gilbert Gottfried’s offensive tweets about the 2011 Japanese tsunami resulted in a pink slip from Aflac as the voice of its mascot. Charlie Sheen made anti- Semitic remarks about his boss in a radio interview (as well as ranting elsewhere about tiger blood, Thomas Jefferson and AA, which apparently is evil), and was fired from Two and a Half Men. Keith Olbermann seems to make a career of saying offensive things and getting fired.
As for Anthony Weiner, best not to think about what he did. I still get creeped out by him. What is it about guys like him and Harvey Weinstein?
Even the president kinda sorta got called on the carpet after making those infamous remarks about Mexican immigrants back when he announced his candidacy—as a result, NBC, Univision, Macy’s and Serta mattresses broke ties with him. (Of course he threw multiple hissy fits.)
Employers have been paying more attention to what their employees—and prospective employees—say and do on social media … so, yeah, you probably shouldn’t post those photos of the drunken Christmas party two years ago on Facebook and Twitter. Once it’s on the Internet, it’s forever.
And your hair was doing that weird thing back then anyway. Do you really want that to be what people remember about you? And now you know why I don’t do Facebook and Twitter, or post many photos of myself. My hair reminds me of Inigo Montoya right now, and that’s not good.
People have the tendency, especially with social media, of forgetting that what they say and do can have real-world consequences. While you do have freedom of speech, you don’t have freedom from the consequences (or criticism) of that speech. No one should.
Aram Sinnreich, a communications professor at American University in Washington, D.C., told Quentin Fottrell of Marketwatch that the speed with which Roseanne got her comeuppance “reflects that, in the Trump age, the news cycle has accelerated so quickly that there’s a vanishingly small window for commercial entities to get out in front of these damaging public relations incidents. The ability to bury these kinds of stories has diminished to almost zero.”
When you’re a face of a company, your actions reflect on the company. The First Amendment really applies just to what the government—not a private (meaning not government-run) business—can’t do. And if you make the company look bad with your speech or actions, you can lose your job for cause.
Then your only cause will be unemployment. And perhaps whining. A lot.
Facing consequences is difficult for some because to face them like a big boy or girl means accepting responsibility for what was said and done … and that’s just too much.
We are responsible for our own actions, and if a problem is our fault, we should be mature and stand up, own it, apologize, and accept the consequences. What we shouldn’t do is deflect, blame others, or make excuses.
Samantha Bee took responsibility and apologized fairly quickly (without blaming it on something or someone else), as did TBS, and she lost two advertisers. I think TBS could go further, by perhaps suspending Bee for a time. But we also have to remember that the situation isn’t exactly parallel because racism and vulgarity aren’t quite the same (and TBS is cable, rather than broadcast, and has looser standards).
The way we should deal with mistakes is to admit them, learn from them, and move on. Robert Downey Jr., for example, was an addict with drug arrests and jail time, and became virtually unhireable because of his problems. He managed, though, to learn from his mistakes, turn his life around, and is now one of the most highly paid actors in the world.
Yes, I admit it … I love Iron Man. Did you forget I’m a nerd?
Mark Cuban worked and failed at a lot of jobs (including as a waiter, when he couldn’t even open a bottle of wine) before becoming a billionaire. Lynn Truong quoted him on American Express’ Open Forum: “I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how many times you failed. You only have to be right once. … I was an idiot lots of times, and I learned from them all.”
Or you can refuse to take responsibility and learn, and instead just be an idiot. Surely someone needs more idiots out there.
I hear the White House is hiring.