Roseanne Barr says she she writes about “real people” and if that’s the case, this week she just confirmed how tone-deaf and condescending she and other Trump supports are.
Tuesday, the conservative television star presented a special episode of her show, Roseanne that dealt with the horrifying topic of what happens when a white family finds out a pack of scary Muslims has moved in next door.
Within seconds it was clear that this episode was going to be a dumpster fire.
Barr walks into the house and immediately laments to her sister, and a mysterious Black friend, that a “sleeper cell full of terrorists getting ready to blow up our neighborhood.”
“Anytime something bad happens, it’s always somebody who lives next door to somebody,” Roseanne Conner tells her sister Jackie, played by Laurie Metcalf.
Shortly thereafter it’s revealed that the Conner family is broke and can’t pay their internet bill. This is painted as a tragedy mostly because Roseanne’s Black granddaughter needs to Skype her mother who is stationed in Afghanistan. In a effort to help out this noble cause, they attempt to steal wifi from their neighbors using all sorts of ignorant (and Islamophobic) guesses at their password.
When their plan fails, Roseanne is forced to pay her neighbors a visit, in the middle of the night, so she can insult them to their faces while asking to borrow their WiFi password.
For her protection she carries a baseball bat, and the jokes during this scene are particularly cringeworthy. This premise is basically used to allow Barr to make all the crass comments many people in red states and alt-right forums WISH they could make to every Muslim they see. Her face is almost gleeful as she looks the actors in the eyes and delivers her lines.
And during this dehumanizing exchange the Muslims know their place, they over explain intimate details about their lives to their menacing, bat wielding neighbors with a level of grace and poise that would make even Mother Theresa roll her eyes.
The message is clear: Even when white people approach you aggressively and talk to you crazy, it’s your job to explain oppression to them, be charming at all times, and never call them out in a way that will make them feel ashamed or chastised for their blatant disrespect.
You better behave brown people, stay in your place!
Not only does Roseanne never once admit that her words and actions are wrong and demeaning, to add insult to injury, she later positions herself as the white savior during the second half of the episode.
When she runs into her poor, hijab-wearing Muslim neighbor at the grocery store the impoverished woman is declined after attempting to buy a rotisserie chicken with her EBT card (I’m not making this up folks). She stands there confused and dismayed when the store clerk tells her that she doesn’t have enough to cover the $75 grocery bill for her entire family.
The clerk, who is apparently meant to represent what a “bad” Trump supporter is, makes jokes that are supposedly worse than the one’s Roseanne has been making the whole episode, and we’re supposed to think she’s the one whose gone too far when she makes a comment about a camel.
That’s when white savior Roseanne gets to ride in on her equally white horse and save the poor Muslim neighbor by giving her the $30 she needs to pay for her food and that chicken she wanted so badly.
“You’re ignorant. That woman is twice the person you’ll ever be, and she’s dealing with a lot of stuff that you don’t even know about,” Roseanne bravely tells the clerk.
“So next time she comes into the store, you keep your mouth shut. She has enough fertilizer to turn this place into a smoking hole in the ground.”
The irony of our unchecked protagonist making a speech that she is better suited to be on the receiving end of is stunning to say the least. Especially since she, in the very next breath makes yet another terrorist joke about how the neighbors have enough fertilizer in their garden to make a bomb.
The show’s staff has said that Barr personally asked for this storyline because she wanted to teach “tolerance and compassion” but what they presented last night was a self-indulgent, steaming pile of hot garbage.
Anne Bedine who plays our new neighbor has been helping her fellow Syrians to reach safety for many years. She is inspiring! #Roseanne
— Roseanne Barr (@therealroseanne) May 9, 2018
The storyline showed no compassion for anything except for the fragile sensibilities of white America, while doubling down on every horrible stereotype imaginable. The Muslims in the episode had to be broke, meek, down on their luck and looking for a white messiah before they were allowed to be seen as human beings worthy of respect. God forbid if they had been able to afford their own prepared foods.
And what’s also notable, is the way the writers used black people in this episode.
Up until this point there had only been one black character on the new reboot of this show. But within seconds of Tuesday’s broadcast, that doubled with the appearance of Roseanne’s Black female friend. Shortly, thereafter, Dan is in the kitchen and is now joined by his granddaughter’s Black grandfather, played by Grey’s Anatomy star James Pickens, Jr.
And again, thanks to the appearance of our beloved “Dr. Webber”, the black quota has now trippled! Finally at the end of the episode, Roseanne’s granddaughter gets to Skype with her mother, bringing the Black actor count up to four.
It’s pretty obvious that given the sensitive subject matter, the comedienne and her team thought it best to stock up on Black bodies to use us as a shield for her problematic, anti-Muslim rhetoric. Which is literally the television equivalent of, “I can’t be racist, I have black friends!”
But you are a racist Roseanne, and the worst kind of racist at that.
Because while you support a man in the White House who is actively attempting to impede the rights of people of color and set us back 50 years, you still want the privilege to paint yourself as a good person and call yourself an ally. You want to be absolved of all your white guilt without ever actually being called out on it, because in your world minorities are docile creatures willing to dance a jig (and constantly turn a blind eye) while waiting for your approval.
Thanks, but no thanks.
With friends like you, we’re in for another four years of Trump.