Playing Along In Roseanne’s Little Racial Game [Theory] Could Only Hurt You

as reported in the NYTimes

During the reboot announcement I remained unconvinced of this nostalgic appeal to join the viewership and enlist myself as a fan of this woman’s eponymously named show. I was not even curious about the storylines for the episodes and I refused to be entertained by her sincere fictions that are shrouded by her bigoted persona — perceived unduly as award winning wit. I didn’t want to be that pawn in her little game.

I am not even going to fall into Roseanne’s paradox of finding humor in her crude jokes targeting my assigned racial status under this scam of a social construct. Why should I laugh at something that asserts supremacy over what amounts to denigration.

Disparagement humor is paradoxical: It simultaneously communicates two conflicting messages. One is an explicit hostile or prejudiced message. But delivered alongside is a second implicit message that “it doesn’t count as hostility or prejudice because I didn’t mean it — it’s just a joke.” ¹

The politicization of racial resentment and the preservation of white privilege undermines our social cohesion with these false narratives of American liberalization which we are forced fed as entertainment on television with these false idols of Hollywood. It is anything but subtle.

Most of the time prejudiced people conceal their true beliefs and attitudes because they fear others’ criticism. They express prejudice only when the norms in a given context clearly communicate approval to do so. They need something in the immediate environment to signal that it is safe to freely express their prejudice.

Disparagement humor appears to do just that by affecting people’s understanding of the social norms — implicit rules of acceptable conduct — in the immediate context. And in a variety of experiments, my colleagues and I have found support for this idea, which we call prejudiced norm theory

The “Roseanne” show reboot was granted and conspired in bad faith with impeccable timing in the advent of Trump. It is obvious that Ms. Barr, feeling quite emboldened by her soft power, along with the nod, wink, and approval of this administration, is unable to and does not feel the need to hold back the disdain she has for the Clintons, and contempt she has for minorities under the cover of politics.

Barr walks this liberal republican tightrope with the weight of racism as its sagging tension. The contempt for minorities stems from her volatile views of non whites as simply lacking the racial etiquette that substantiates the racial hierarchy. The disdain for the Clinton’s brand of racial liberalism stems from the popularity and loyalty it receives from minorities as structured by white democrats in politically correct terms that urges personal responsibility and color-blind narratives. The liberal republicans would rather go the politically incorrect route of free speech reeling, second amendment gun toting, bootstrapping. This is emphatically seen as something Barr evidently shares politically via trumpism. But both avenues are and have always been dead ends for the dominant group’s attempts at American assimilation for minorities.

Liberalism as a political ideology has always been the dominant ideology in the United States, albeit too often (as just pointed out) in racialized forms. So in trying to put together a political coalition of the class- and racially-disadvantaged, liberalism — appropriately modified, of course — could provide an overarching moral/political framework acceptable to all. — Charles W. Mills

The vibe and hoopla surrounding the show and the show’s protagonist is a spectacle of whiteness in cognitive dissonance to me.

Clearly, Wanda Sykes, an opportunist/consultant of the reboot, and also one of the many pawns who now proclaims she “was a fan of the show”, has no more possible moves left to make playing in Roseanne’s little game.

This racial game being played is essential to sustaining the dominant group’s vanity and obsession with marginalizing others. It won’t be long before Roseanne’s fanbase begin to perceive the show’s cancellation as furthering their grievance of political correctness, even though they act unconscionably with their own motives and moves. These particular actions are predicated on capitalizing on this implausible resentment and using freedom of speech to express ill-will at others outside of their group. It is merely a continuation of enacting this supposed racial etiquette in recognition of the status quo.

In wake of the show’s cancellation, speculation about a possible future for “Roseanne” at another network have already begun. — CNN Entertainment

While most of the media sensationalizes (with the oohs and aahs) over the petty contextualization of the racist tweet that got her show cancelled, and fired as a client from the agency (ICM Partners) representing her, I would instead like to focus on former senior advisor to president Barack Obama, Valerie Jarret’s response to the disparaging humor aimed at her human existence and that tentatively put “Roseanne” off the air.

I think we have to turn it into a teaching moment. I’m fine. I’m worried about all the people out there who don’t have a circle of friends and followers who come right to their defense — the person who’s walking down the street minding their own business and they see somebody cling to their purse or want to cross the street. Or every black parent I know who has a boy who has to sit down and have a conversation — “the talk,” as we call it. As you say, those ordinary examples of racism that happen every single day.²

What I have learned about this moment is that I as well as many others truly don’t have such a powerful circle of defense. Even if they wanted to my less than powerful circle would hesitate to even respond given the social risks involved with wanting to provide that defense of humanity against white supremacy. I do not have that sort of social capital either, so many like myself couldn’t afford to. To my chagrin, in the face of hurtful racial sentiments and symbolic violence, Ms. Jarrett’s worry here is well founded.

The silent majority is once again eerily silent on this. The insouciance felt at the insensitivity and the idiocy of the remark appears without much scrutiny. It is however revealing of the enthusiasm behind and for this racial discord. Our long standing institutions will once again gloss over or excuse overt racial attitudes coming from the majority that inspired them.

All part of this little game

“You can’t control Roseanne Barr,” Ben Sherwood, the president of ABC, said in an interview with The New York Times in March. “Many who have tried have failed. She’s the one and only.” ⁴

Oh so not only did Disney/ABC knew all along that Roseanne would present a potential problem in doing the reboot, they saw the potential enrichment outweighing that problem in the short run. (The show’s ratings did precipitously fall towards the end of the season)

The concept of [pushing for] equality should inhabit the dominant framing of American society, not the dominant white framing that we are incessantly burdened with. A superpower society premised on intercultural promise and respect for humanity is the aim and should be the storyline




It appears the more that I write the better I perceive.

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