American television

Roseanne Conner, Trump Supporter?

The revival of Roseanne, which presented the title character as a Trump supporter was a ratings boon for ABC. Prior to the episode airing, I saw that some liberals on social media were calling for a ban on the show, while conservatives were tripping all over themselves praising the first episode. I understand that Trump himself called Roseanne to congratulate her. I am willing to bet that he didn’t actually view the episode and if he did, was not deft enough to pick up on the interesting nuances—which many conservatives and liberals failed to see!

Roseanne was one of the few shows I viewed from beginning to end during the 1980s and 1990s (I wasn’t the avid television watcher I am today). Even though the show depicted a blue-collar family, it was through a remarkably progressive lens. I remember when I read that it was being revived, I watched some of the original episodes again on Amazon Prime and was astounded by how much more relevant it was in 2017. The show tackled issues like domestic violence, LGBT rights, unemployment and even PMS with notable intelligence and humor. And while much the original run of the show is still relevant today, the world has changed significantly since 1997.

The most prominent change has been the bloody aftermath stemming from the loss of the Fairness Doctrine (a Federal Communications Commission policy that required news broadcasters to provide balanced views on controversial topics). The most polarizing destructive force on the nation has been Fox “news”, which was on its ascent around the time the original run of Roseanne was coming to an end. Interestingly, the Roseanne revival subtlety notes this when Rosanne yells at Jackie, “He was talking jobs. Shaking things up!”

At the moment, I don’t think that Roseanne the person has completely mutated into Charlton Heston (once an active supporter of the civil rights movement who later became an NRA gun nut). Like Trump, Roseanne is a master manipulator of garnering attention from the media (as I was writing this, some pictures surfaced of her baking gingerbread men while dressed like Hitler). I remember during the original run of the series, Roseanne always managed to spark some controversy, usually around sweeps week (like when she and her husband were going to marry their assistant…?) It became predictable and tedious. With the Roseanne revival, as with the actress, there is a disconnect with what she says and what she does or portrays (my standing recommendation with Trump is to watch what he does, and conjecture little on what he says).

We see an older and slimmer Dan and Roseanne Conner sharing medications because their insurance does not fully cover all that they need for their various ailments (e.g., Trump and his fellow Republicans have essentially killed any affordable healthcare for Americans). Darlene is now the single mother of two children who lost her job in Chicago and had to move back home (e.g., Carrier Air moving jobs south of the border to Mexico, leaving many Trump supporters unemployed). Darlene’s son, Mark, likes to wear girls’ clothes and Roseanne the Trump supporter is okay with it and supports it, while Dan tolerates it without ever being demeaning. DJ has served a tour in the Army and now has an African-American daughter named Mary (DJ’s wife is still serving abroad) whom Dan and Roseanne appear to adore (Trump’s inimical feelings toward African-Americans is well documented and long). Roseanne and Jackie haven’t spoken since the 2016 election (Jackie voted for Jill Stein) although they later reconcile. Jackie wears a “Nasty Woman” t-shirt and a pussy hat while she and Roseanne yell “deplorable” and “snowflake” at each other.

Perhaps the most interesting change is with Becky—who has physically morphed into her mother-in-law, Barbara Healy! Is this some bizarre tribute to her late husband? It reminded me of Trump’s HAIRDOn’t, which is a bizarre, gender bending tribute to his late mother. Anyway, Becky has been financially struggling after Mark’s death and agrees to act as a surrogate mother for a woman named Andrea, who is played by Sarah Chalke the actress who took over the part of Becky when Lecy Goranson left to study at Vassar. In a nod to the two Darrins on Bewitched, the Goranson Becky vs. the Chalke Becky became a running gag on the series’ original run. My favorite moment on the first episode was when Becky noted how much they look alike and Andrea responded with, “Yes, you look exactly like me when I am not wearing make-up.” The shade!

becky-morphed

Is Becky honoring her late husband by morphing into her mother-in-law much like Trump honors his mother with that HAIRDOn’t?

Great comedy often springs from conflict. On Will and Grace, another recently revived series which I think owes part of its success to the way Roseanne first presented Gay and Lesbian characters, the Karen Walker character is a Trump supporter—and it makes great comedy! On a recent episode, Grace actually had to defend Karen’s right to have a bakery create a MAGA cake and the result was brilliant mirror for both liberal and conservative viewpoints. I think that this is what Roseanne is trying to do, hold up a mirror to the country so that we can take a look at and think for ourselves.

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A Xenophobic Troglodyte Hates Fútbol

I normally wouldn’t devote much thought, let alone an entire blog entry, to a xenophobic troglodyte like Ann Coulter, but was inspired after watching the World Cup yesterday. This is a response to her shoddily written article about Fútbol (soccer) that created quite a stir on social media last week.

Before I address Coulter’s article, I would like to infuse some media literacy and survey her mindset.

Coulter knows her audience (market). She operates much like Fox “News”, appealing to a certain narrow-minded and largely intolerant demographic. Interestingly, most Fox “News” viewers do not realize (or simply ignore) that the same company broadcasting television series like Glee also owns Fox “News” (not exactly congruent as both appeal to difference audiences). Then there is the foreign ownership: Rupert Murdock is not American and the second-largest holder of voting stock in the company is Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal (yes, a brown skinned Arab owns stock in Fox “News”). Some may say that MSNBC is the Progressive equivalent, but there are noticeable differences. First of all, MSNBC has at least one conservative voice (Joe Scarborough). Second, whenever you watch an MSNBC program, they provide substantiation: watch a segment of Rachel Maddow and she isn’t merely speaking, she provides sources (often using visuals). Coulter and Fox “News” just tell their audience what they want to hear; they are essentially pushing a product. This mindset creates an assortment of perils, the most notable being the loss of apt discourse. What we have now are Conservatives who immediately reject any idea (like climate change) that bears any semblance to something progressive or scientific (often referred to as ‘elite’) regardless of how sound or how much evidence has been provided.

————

As I was watching Brazil play against Chile, in between the infinite cycle of big company logos being flashed on the field monitors, I took notice of a message that conveyed #stopracism. Coulter came to mind because I remember reading one headline regarding how she grumbled about the game being foreign. Out of morbid curiosity I read her article.

Scattered like a shipwreck on a beach, the article manages to take bizarre pot shots at the metric system, soccer moms, girl soccer players and Michael Jackson. Here are several points I have extracted from the wreckage.

  • “You can’t use your hands in soccer. (Thus eliminating the danger of having to catch a fly ball.) What sets man apart from the lesser beasts, besides a soul, is that we have opposable thumbs. Our hands can hold things. Here’s a great idea: Let’s create a game where you’re not allowed to use them!”
    Not using your hands in sports takes great coordination and brainpower. You have to move and kick the ball while maintaining balance and strategizing where on the field you are going to kick it.

What is so wrong with Americans liking Fútbol (soccer)?

Could it be that some Americans watching the 2014 World Cup may want to start exploring how Brazil became energy independent (https://law.wustl.edu/WUGSLR/Issues/Volume7_2/Potter.pdf )? I have seen solar companies advertised on those field monitors (http://www.fifa.com/aboutfifa/socialresponsibility/environmental.html ).

Is it because too many brown people are playing?

Is it because it can inspire thoughts of understanding and tolerance?

Or is it because FIFA stands against discrimination and makes it known:

Discrimination of any kind against a Country, private person or group of people on account of race, skin colour, ethnic, national or social origin, gender, language, religion, political opinion or any other opinion, wealth, birth or any other status, sexual orientation or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion. (http://www.fifa.com/aboutfifa/socialresponsibility/antiracism/index.html )

no to racism

Interestingly, if you watch the games on Spanish-language television, many of sponsors convey the above sentiments (not so on American television).

In a country like the United States, where you have a handful of small minded puritanical holy rollers picking narrow-minded textbooks for children (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/jun/21/how-texas-inflicts-bad-textbooks-on-us/ ), the last thing Americans need is to have an even lesser understanding of the world. I am truly embarrassed whenever I read anything discussing America’s lack of knowledge regarding geography and basic social studies.

Coulter notes American Football’s ratings as if she had been hired by the NFL (http://www.npr.org/2014/01/18/263767372/the-nfl-big-business-with-big-tax-breaks) to stomp out any potential competition. Is it so hard for both sports to co-exist? In Coulter’s narrow view it is. She seems to have little sense that there’s an enormous, complex world beyond our borders.  She seems to think that the universe consists of the United States and then everyone else—and that everyone else should be stomped on.

“If more “Americans” are watching soccer today, it’s only because of the demographic switch effected by Teddy Kennedy’s 1965 immigration law. I promise you: No American whose great-grandfather was born here is watching soccer. One can only hope that, in addition to learning English, these new Americans will drop their soccer fetish with time.”

I am pretty sure that Coulter’s readers do not know that American Football came from the European sport called Rugby (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/550852/football )? And Rugby has roots in similar ancient games found in Ancient Greece and China (http://www.fifa.com/classicfootball/history/the-game/origins.html ).

Like most things in modern America, it started somewhere else. Coulter, suffocate with that thought the next time you order French fries or a slice of pizza.

Ann Coulter, Circa 1980

Ann Coulter, circa 1980. Years before she got that boozy, party girl look that she has been sporting since the 1990’s and is too old to pull off in 2014.