I used to say that "nothing surprises me anymore," but when news broke of Roseanne's racist Tweet about Valerie Jarrett, I had to look twice at the content of the Tweet and the blatantly racist comments within. I suppose it doesn't surprise me that racism still sadly exists in the hearts and minds of wide swaths of the population. What does surprise me is that someone as well-known and powerful as Rosesanne, someone so plugged into the media and such a part of pop culture, could not realize the severe ramifications of going off the reservation and saying something in print so outlandishly offensive as to literally destroy the rest of your life. And yet to care so little of such consequences - those Tweeted characters mean so much to you to express - that you type them anyway and submit them for the masses of millions of people to digest and analyze and, if warranted, crucify you with.
Roseanne, you would think, would be media savvy enough - or surround herself with people savvy enough - to keep her from self-destructing. And you would LIKE to think she would be smart enough, and considerate enough, to not torpedo the jobs of 200 innocent people - many of them her friends - by making an asinine, pointless comment. But apparently not. She opened her big mouth - or rather, Tweeted her big mouth - and now 200 people immediately hit the unemployment lines. And finally, you would think Roseanne would be smart enough to not think we would buy her lame excuse that the Tweet was the fault of Ambien. Come on, now. If anything, maybe Ambien POSSIBLY lowers your inhibitions, exposing that which was already very much there, and not the fault of anyone but the thinker of the thoughts.
Yes, we are a land of freedom of speech. But not freedom of speech with zero consequences. Roseanne freely said something extremely stupid. And the ABC executives used their freedom of speech to utter the word: "Cancelled". And most Americans are using their freedom of speech to agree with ABC's decision. I'm one of them.
I personally never enjoyed the show "Roseanne", but a lot of people did. It was the number one show in the country, a HUGE cash cow, pretty impressive for a revival show, and was expected to make hundreds of millions of dollars. But now it's over. It didn't have to be, but an act of unmitigated stupidity and disgusting, unfounded hatred saw to it that the show must not always go on. Hopefully maybe ABC can do some sort of spin-off about the rest of the Conner family minus Roseanne, whose absence could be explained as being attributed to her character on the show totally effing up her own life by being an utter moron. Art imitates life.
Whether it's Kathy Griffin's bloodied effigy head of Trump or now this Roseanne debacle, hopefully someday celebrities - hell, ALL of us - will realize that social media is powerful, and as Ben told Peter Parker/Spider-Man, "with great power comes great responsibility." We have a right to use social media, we have an obligation to use it with at least some modicum of responsibility. Before pecking away at that keyboard or on that smart phone, we all need to ask ourselves, "Am I hurting anyone or anything with this? If so, who or what am I hurting? And, if so, why am I hurting he, or she, or it? And finally, what is the best possible outcome of sending these words or images out into the universe for all time, and what is the worst possible outcome? For me, for the person or thing I am targeting, for society as a whole?"
Maybe just taking that brief pause of reflection will spare us the next celebrity Tweeting scandal. And maybe a silly sitcom won't be headline news for the next week.
Dare to dream.