Sunday, June 3, 2018

Roseanne or Samantha? I pick neither

Just got back from a couple of weeks in South Africa, a vacation whose most relaxing aspect was being largely disconnected from the endless political skirmishes, conspiracies and name-calling back home. Most of the places we stayed at didn't even have working Wi-Fi. You just kept looking for zebras or leopards instead, which proved to be far more interesting than news from States.

That changed soon after we returned when, even before leaving the Houston airport, we had already been confronted with the scandale du jour over Roseanne Barr's racist tweet about former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett, and the conservatives' immediate riposte that comedian Samantha Bee's description of Ivanka Trump was just as offensive. Bing-bang. So there!

This was an easy one for me: I can't stand either Barr or Bee. I've never felt even an itch to watch Roseanne, either in her previous show or the latest incarnation. And as far as Samantha, I watched her show a couple of times and found her relentlessly off-color tone tedious and juvenile.

But I do have a horse in this race, come to think of it. When I worked at the Chicago Tribune I had the chance to interview Jarrett a few times, when she was chair of the Chicago Transit Authority. I found her unfailingly courteous, well informed and the epitome of classy. 

On a scale of ten for offensiveness, though, Barr's tweet about Jarrett scores about a fifteen. Just because Jarrett was born in Iran where her parents worked for five years doesn't make her a closet sympathizer of the Muslim Brotherhood, except in the minds of inhabitants the far right's slimeosphere.

And comparing black people to apes, that's something Barr tweeted once before with regard to Obama national security advisor Susan E. Rice. Enough said.

Still, I don't find Bee's description of Ivanka Trump, or Bill Maher, who called Trump to an orangutan, as offensive as Barr's tweet.

Bee was making a point, albeit using really crude language, about Ivanka's cowardice for not denouncing her father's immigration policies,  which have affected immigrant children. It was couched as a "from one mother to another" observation:

     You know, Ivanka, that’s a beautiful photo of you and your child. But let me just say, one mother to another, do something about your dad’s immigration practices, you feckless cunt! He listens to you! Put on something tight and low-cut and tell your father to fucking stop it! 

Yikes, really offensive and, worse, not funny or an effective way to make what could have been a good point about Ivanka's two-faced public persona: A feminist, working mother of  sorts who doesn't use her clout to do something concrete about her convictions.

Still not as gross, by a mile, as comparing black people to apes but gross enough to confirm my decision not watch her show.

Or John Oliver on the Comedy Channel. He's a terrifically bright guy who makes some really good points except they are often peppered with so many fuck's and shit's that his rants are really annoying and counterproductive, particularly if he presumes to persuade someone with different points of view.

I'm not writing this in a cloistered convent. I can handle, and even use, cuss words once in a while. But they should be utilized sparingly, like explanation marks, caps in emails or habanero peppers in Mexican dishes. Just a dab will do you. Too much will reveal you as a gross, unimaginative clown, and burn the roof of your mouth too.

Trump an orangutan? That's pretty funny and probably related to his hair and girth. If anything,  orangutans deserve an apology. But nooo, Trump instead sued Maher, who joined thousands who have already crossed the sensitive Mr. Volcano Hair and been hit with a lawsuit as a result.

Bee apologized, and so did Roseanne though she later backpedaled by blaming her insanity on Ambien.  I'm sure behind closed door Bee was told to tone it down a notch—but not so much to turn off her loyal followers. The show must go on.

As for Trump? He couldn't bring himself to censure or at least distance himself from Barr's odious racist tweets. Instead he tried to turn this debacle into a forum about his favorite subject—himself—and whined about how he's been mistreated by the media.

I miss the wild animals.

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