Roseanne Barr and Samantha Bee: Predictably Awful versus Childishly Crude
Image Twitter

Roseanne Barr and Samantha Bee: Predictably Awful versus Childishly Crude

We live now in an ugly place – a place where people say and do ugly things. And, it is symptomatic of the political and social realities of the time.

Roseanne Barr’s recent racist utterance was ugly, and, yes, reactions and outcomes were appropriate. But, one can’t help but wonder why ABC put itself in this mess in the first place. Barr was not an unknown. She was famous for doing and saying nasty and unpardonable things before. In 1990, at a San Diego Padres game, she gave an outrageous rendition of the National Anthem, including groping her crotch at the end. And far worse still, in 2009, she posed for a magazine picture dressed as Adolph Hitler and pulling a tray of burnt cookies shaped as people out of the oven. She has been beyond the pale for a very long time – and stupid. Her actions now were totally predictable. ABC, in addition to Barr, is responsible for giving her the platform. They have taken no responsibility whatsoever. Rather, everyone is congratulating them for doing what was appropriate.

Bottom line, it was not appropriate to have given Barr a platform.

While Barr is awful through and through, Samantha Bee is just stupid. What Bee did was in bad taste, but neither racist nor sexist. She was pushing the boundaries of a comedian’s license. She could have said the same thing (and it needed to be said) without being childishly crude.

Although they happened at more or less the same time, they are not comparable. Barr should be banished forever – she is an unmitigated racist. Bee should be told to cut it out and to grow up. Employing “c-unt” doesn’t make her more bold, more compelling, more risk taking. It makes her look small and silly.

But, there is something about these two people, Barr and Bee, that is eye opening and each a sign of the times. We are in a very bad place at the moment in the United States -- a time of division, mistrust, and great anger.

Barr and Bee reflect that anger. The one thing they both have in common is their gender. That these two have each done what they’ve done – publicly and so stupidly - is a sorry statement about women today. No longer, apparently, are women holding back and letting men do the stupid, thoughtless and hurtful things. THEY ARE ON THE FRONT LINE THEMSELVES, acting as childishly and/or outlandishly as men.

I don’t know if that’s a good thing, but it surely is a new thing.

Daniel Socolow
Daniel Socolow: President, Socolow Group. Former Director of the MacArthur Fellows Program, President of the American University of Paris, Vice President of Spelman College. BA, MA, Ph.D.

Your code to embed this article on your website* :

*You are allowed to change only styles on the code of this iframe.



Add your Comment