June 5, 2018

SALENA ZITO: Hollywood Desperately Needs to Fill the Hole Left by Roseanne: 

If the lesson the left takes away from this is that all Trump voters are racist, it will be making the same mistake the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, the national news media and the NFL have made in misunderstanding this coalition of people. But if wisdom prevails, the left will step back and realize there was a void in the market that even Roseanne Barr could fill — a person who conservatives have reviled for years.

If there was a hole that big in Hollywood, then we should take an honest look at our programming and how our entertainment industry treats Middle America. Plenty of lessons are coming out of this chapter of Barr’s life. Most of them are obvious: Words matter, and there are consequences for hateful behavior.

But people will miss two other very important lessons. The first is we have to stop leaping to the assumption that all people who voted for Donald Trump are racist and everything they like has tinges of racism — from guns to how the NFL has handled the national anthem controversy.

The second is that Hollywood hasn’t been serving a great big chunk of this country for a long time. As a result, a show no one predicted would be popular broke all the records. I sincerely hope ABC is able to revive some version of “Roseanne” under a different name and with some of the same characters, as has been reported. Because right now, people in a large swath of the country are hungry for something that authentically reflects their lives. That’s where the story is.

Much like Jimmy the Greek handing CBS all the reason they needed to fire him after his freshness rating had long expired, Roseanne was axed because her racist tirade gave Disney the perfect excuse to both dump a TV series whose premise they hated, and send a symbolic warning shot to flyover country to know your place, rubes. Disney is such an enormous conglomerate of broadcast and cable TV channels, movies, amusement parks, and a bottomless merchandising well that the revenues lost from cutting Roseanne’s series is little more than tip money. But as with dumping Tim Allen’s conservative-friendly series after Trump was elected president, the frisson of pleasure that Obama and Hillary-supporting Disney executives felt when sacking yet another flyover country favorite makes any minor financial imposition feel all worth while. Roseanne should have had the common sense to know that she was on double-secret probation, and that in television, even the biggest names are ultimately replaceable.

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