Hollywood is full of people we idolize. They’re rich, beautiful, and speak out against injustices. Some play characters that inspire us. Others comment on society’s failings while we nod in agreement thinking, “This person gets it.”
Unfortunately, more and more idols are falling from grace.
Roseanne Barr was hailed for creating television’s most inclusive working class family in the 80’s and ABC’s biggest hit of 2018. That is, until she posted racial Tweets about a former Obama advisor. And while some were shocked, others revealed her ongoing racially-charged and conspiracy-theory-filled social media presence.
Given her years of offensive rhetoric, I was surprised ABC had agreed to the Roseanne reboot. I was not surprised by her racial comments that led to her abrupt dismissal. And everyone applauded the network president, Channing Dungey, who took a stand against ABC’s financial interests and became the industry’s moral compass.
But now, one of my television favourites, Full Frontal’s Samantha Bee, has stepped in a steaming pile of offensiveness too.
In the midst of Trump’s political missteps and manipulations, Sam Bee, with her frank, sometimes rude, no-holds barred assessments of the world, has become my political palette cleanser. Unfortunately, she recently referred to the daughter Trump with an unnecessary expletive. She was angrily pointing out Ivanka’s tone-deaf Tweet showing her child in her arms while thousands of children have been separated from their undocumented parents and lost in the system.
Amid the immediate backlash, Bee apologized for her word choice, claiming her passion for the subject got the better of her. Meanwhile, the Trump-in-Chief demanded that Bee be fired just as Roseanne had.
My world turned upside down. Was my idolized Samantha Bee as bad as racist Roseanne?
Of course, the situations were vastly different. Bee was reading a script off a prompter. It was written in advance and signed off by multiple staff. In contrast, Roseanne was alone, typing with her thumbs in the middle of the night while on powerful medication.
So for me, Bee committed the greater sin. But what’s the saying? “Love the sinner, hate the sin”?
Well, my had respect slipped a notch. However, Sam Bee has used millions of words that I agree with and so I choose to forgive the one noun I don’t like. (It’s a math thing.)
In fairness, I tried to do the same with Roseanne. Unfortunately, I can’t separate the racist from the rant because despite her excess of words over the years, there aren’t many that I agreed with or enjoyed.
However, other people did. That’s why the Roseanne reboot was an immediate hit. And why I find Channing Dungey’s politically correct response somewhat suspect.
Dungey knew about her politics and social media activity. She chose to ignore it – until she couldn’t.
Fortunately, Ms. Barr can no longer use her show’s success to promote her agenda. But for the righteous Ms. Dungey to suddenly claim that this recent rant was not acceptable, suggests that the ones that came before it were.
And there falls another idol.