Roseanne, We Hardly Knew Ya! MURRAY FORSETER introduces a celebrity writer with a view
MY WIFE Gilda and I were devoted viewers of the first Roseanne show since the day I saw an early episode one evening during a business trip and persuaded Gilda it was a ‘must watch’. Sadly, because of her current political passion for Donald Trump, we did not tune in to the latest top-rating series which, because of her Twitter controversy, has been dropped by the ABC network. I was intrigued, as I’m confident you will be, by this reflection by her once close friend, the left-wing film-maker MICHAEL MOORE. . .
I HAVE KNOWN ROSEANNE BARR for more than 25 years. I’ve known her as Roseanne Barr, Roseanne Arnold, just “Roseanne”, then back to Roseanne Barr. I’ve spent time in her home, criss-crossed the country with her to help remove George W. Bush from the White House, appeared on her shows, been there for her when she needed something, and connected her with one of my producers who did an insightful, one-of-a-kind documentary into the genius and the tragedy that is Roseanne.
[Recently] she posted hateful, slanderous tweets directed at four people: George Soros, Valerie Jarrett, Chelsea Clinton and me. A few hours later, she was fired by the ABC network.
For the past few years, Roseanne has been posting the craziest stuff on Twitter, like claiming Hillary Clinton was part of a child sex abuse ring being run out of a DC pizza place. She’s claimed that the Clintons have murdered people. And [that] anyone who criticizes [Israel’s premier] Benjamin Netanyahu is a “Nazi.”
Roseanne seems to be suffering from some sort of madness. It’s more than just saying she’s a racist. She operates in the same sewer of lies, conspiracy theories and bigotry that’s been rising in America for years and that has now succeeded in electing our current president. Totally nuts.
Here’s who’s NOT crazy: Donald J. Trump.
Trump, though he shows all the signs of being absolutely bonkers, is not insane. He’s the real deal. His racism and hate is real, it’s well thought-out, he’s the true master of manipulation, a brilliant performance artist, and an evil genius. He outsmarted a nation of liberals and Democrats and won the White House by losing the actual vote of the people. He neutered and then destroyed the Grand Old Republican Party. He knows exactly what he is doing.
Roseanne, on the other hand, is a person who long ago broke through and brought an authentic voice of working women and men to television via one of the greatest TV series of all time. It was groundbreaking because the TV industry had historically either ignored, ridiculed or patronised those of us who grew up working class. Roseanne changed that.
But she is also a damaged soul. Most people don’t know that she has suffered throughout her life from a massive head injury received during a serious car accident when she was a child. Her brain injuries were immense and she spent months in hospital struggling to recover.
I also have no idea what it was like to grow up, as she did, as a Jewish girl in [predominantly Mormon] Salt Lake City. Not a tolerant state, to be sure. She told me how her parents, who owned an apartment building, were asked by the US government after World War II if they would be willing to house Holocaust survivors who had come to the USA as refugees. Her parents took dozens in, and Roseanne’s childhood was spent with these survivors as her ‘family.’ “The stories they told me,” she said, “were filled with unimaginable horror. I’ve always wondered what effect that had on me as a little girl.”
Now, sadly, for the past few years, Roseanne has been in a downward spiral, ranting like crazy on Twitter, spreading conspiracy theories, attacking the people she used to love, supporting Trump, and being just an outright hateful and racist person. It has been a difficult decline to witness. She has repeatedly attacked me, and [recently], after calling George Soros a ‘Nazi’ (he’s a Jew and a Holocaust survivor), describing [former Obama adviser] Valerie Jarrett as an offspring ‘of the Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes,’ and saying that Chelsea was ‘married to’ a Nazi relative of George Soros, she then retweeted a disgusting new word for me – ‘JewHater’ – because I have spoken out against the Netanyahu government and its killing of Palestinians. Nonstop insanity and sickness.
I guess there might be 20 million (out of 320 million) Americans who probably agree with her. She has thrown down with the lowest of the low, and who knows if she’ll ever recover from this descent into her own personal hell.
To close, I want to say just how great the new Roseanne show was. It was funny but brutal to watch because it showed how our system of greed has hurt millions of ordinary American families. In the final episode before the show was pulled, Roseanne’s character was addicted to opioids because she couldn’t afford the knee surgery she needed, so she suffered agonising pain. Dan, her husband, in order to raise money for her surgery, decided to take a non-union job — and Roseanne berated him for doing so and letting his union brothers and sisters down. There are a couple of quick knocks on Trump, making it clear that the real Roseanne was not writing or running this show. For the past nine weeks, the new Roseanne show has shone a powerful and necessary light on what it means to be working class in 2018. Her blended family on this new series was white and black and LGBTQ, and her generous neighbours next door were Muslims who forced her to confront her own bigotry.
If only her art could have helped her in her real life.