Seven Lessons We Can Learn From Roseanne’s Firing & What It Reveals About The Culture of America
It took 21 years for Roseanne Barr’s show to make a strong comeback but, it just took one tweet to destroy it. “Roseanne” was the most-watched show on TV with its premiere garnering 18.2 million viewers. In today’s world, the speed of which negative repercussions materialize based on what someone says or posts on Social Media is unprecedented. What are seven takeaways from Roseanne-gate?
The American Lynch Mob Adheres To Cobra Kai’s Creed of No Mercy
Hours after publicly apologizing for her insensitive and offending tweets, the American Lynch Mob (encompassing celebrities, politicians, and every day citizens) dramatically escalated their attacks and condemnation of Roseanne. The sum total message was and continues to be: No mercy.
If you or someone you know says something perceived to be racist, sexist or in poor taste; regardless of your intention, you are probably not going to receive a merciful response when the lynch mob focuses its attention on you.
Love or Hate Roseanne, Her Show Was America
According to a 2018 poll by Morning Consult, majorities of Democrats (73%), all adults (65%) and Republicans (64%) say television shows should have more working-class characters. Roseanne’s show not only featured working-class characters but, characters who were implied to be President Trump supporters. Roseanne getting fired from ABC does not change the fact that her program captured the imagination of an audience demographic that comprises a significant portion of America.
An Unbalanced Amount Controversy Can Burn A Palace To The Ground
In 1989, housewife, homemaker and former anti-obscenity activist Terry Rakolta led a boycott against FOX’s TV show “Married… with Children.” Rakolta had written to several companies that advertised on the show. However, the controversy actually raised ratings and a year after the boycott, nearly all the defecting advertisers had returned.
During the original run of “Roseanne” on ABC from 1988 – 1997, Roseanne was frequently in the media garnering attention and some of it wasn’t positive. In 1990, she mangled the star spangled banner at a San Diego Padres game and was castigate by then President George H.W. Bush. However, despite what she did in her personal life, Roseanne’s show stayed on the air and stayed popular.
In 2018, the perpetual geyser of controversy generated alone by Roseanne on twitter transformed a spark of curiosity into an inferno of condemnation which effectively burnt her palace to the ground.
Just like common sense says not to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol, one should also not go on social media without being totally in control of their senses.
Rosanne claimed to be under the influence of Ambien. Ambien’s parent company Sanofi quickly responded saying “racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.” However, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “those who take the sleep medication zolpidem extended-release (Ambien CR) should not drive or engage in other activities that require complete mental alertness the day after taking the drug because zolpidem levels can remain high enough the next day to impair these activities.”
In the short term, Sanofi’s decision to condescendingly engage Rosanne seems clever but, in hindsight it probably alienated a significant portion of their already existing & potential customer base. Many people have a strong loyalty to their entertainers, leaders, and political parties. When any of the foremost mentioned are attacked, people themselves feel like they are being attacked. Do not be surprised of a coming backlash against Ambien from Roseanne supporters and other likeminded individuals that share the same political beliefs that she does.
Any kind of social media use in an inebriated or heated emotional state can cause an individual to write regrettable things. Despite what Roseanne has stated about her experience with Ambien, we don’t know the state of mind that she was in when she was writing her most controversial & destructive tweets however, had Roseanne written them on paper and waited a few hours to re-read them, chances are she would not be where she is now.
All of us can learn a lesson here. Tweet responsibly. Bonus lesson: If you’re a CEO don’t ever, EVER share your political perspectives. You’re only going to unnecessarily alienate some of your employees and customers.
Different Era, Different Rules: Adapt or Perish
What happened with Roseanne should teach us that the collective conscious and moral values of a nation are prone to fluctuate & change. In the 1920’s you could be arrested for drinking alcohol and your doctor probably smoked cigarettes. Today, you can drink alcohol and smoking is heavily discouraged (especially among medical professionals).
2018 is not the era of live and let live (some would call it the era of walking on eggshells). Certain behaviors and types of speech that were tolerated by American society thirty years ago (when Roseanne’s show first debuted) are no longer tolerated today. One should be aware of the social customs and values of the era they are living in and exercise fair judgment in how they communicate.
People Have Short Memories
For the foreseeable future, Roseanne will likely endure more intense attacks from individuals admonishing her racially insensitive tweets. In the midst of the calls of “Bigot! Racist!” millions of people seem to have either forgotten or overlooked that regardless of how they feel about her, Roseanne was a trailblazer. Her show “Roseanne” was one of the first mainstream sitcoms to have an LGBT wedding, it openly discussed domestic violence & birth control at length, and it also tackled subjects that other programs wouldn’t touch.
The Future Has Not Been Written Yet
Those who are praised and paraded by the masses today may be trampled under their feet tomorrow. Those who are irrelevant today may be important tomorrow. Roseanne may reemerge on another media platform or she may conclude her career. The future for each one of us is being created right now by our thoughts and actions. If we gear those thoughts and actions towards respect, reverence and kindness to ourselves & others, the future we create can illuminate the peace & happiness we deserve.
Ryan McCormick is the co-founder of Goldman McCormick Public Relations (www.goldmanmccormick.com), a New York based media relations agency.