Culture Clips: The Let’s-Think-About-What-We-Say-Before-Saying-It edition


This is why we can’t have nice things.

Let’s start with Roseanne Barr, whose 2018 career trajectory looks a little like the flight of a model rocket with a faulty parachute.

First came the ABC revival of her beloved sitcom, Roseanne. It came out of the gate like an angry buffalo, galloping to some seriously eye-popping ratings. ABC quickly renewed the show for a second season, and everyone was happy.

Until this week, that is, when Barr popped off a racially incendiary tweet referencing Valerie Jarrett, an African-American member of the Obama administration. Reaction was swift. ABC quickly cancelled the show, saying that Barr’s tweet was “abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.” Disney Chairman Bob Iger chimed in on Twitter himself, saying there was “only one thing to do.” Barr has since apologized and blamed the drug Ambien for the tweet, but she also took some of the show’s own cast members to task for their harsh reactions.

Barr wasn’t alone on the social media hot seat, though. Jeffrey Tambor, who was fired from the show Transparent because of sexual harassment accusations, admitted that he’d also been verbally abusive on the set of Arrested Development, especially to his on-screen wife, Jessica Walter. In a rather bizarre interview with The New York Times, Tambor, Walter and other Arrested Development cast members addressed the issue, with some—especially Jason Bateman—seeming to defend Tambor’s behavior. The Twitterverse was seriously unhappy about that, forcing an apology from Bateman. “I shouldn’t have tried so hard to mansplain, or fix a fight, or make everything okay,” he tweeted. Not everyone is mollified, though.

Meanwhile, housecleaning related to the #MeToo movement continues apace. Disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein recently turned himself in to the New York City police was after being charged with rape. He’s out on $1 million bail. Meanwhile, Morgan Freeman apologized for his own on-set behavior toward women, but he’s also pushing back against CNN’s report that documented that behavior—demanding the news service issue a retraction. “It is not right to equate horrific incidents of sexual assault with misplaced compliments or humor,” he said in a letter issued by his attorney.

All these scandals would’ve been serious enough on their own, but there’s little question that our social media culture seems to have increased both the stakes and the blowback. And the influence those who use social media well is truly staggering. In a fascinating study from Mintel, more than a third of children ages 6-17 (34%) said that social media stars were among their top role models. That’s slightly higher than musicians, athletes and actors, and more than twice as high as the president (who got 16% of the vote).

(But parents, don’t fret too much: The study also found that Mom and Dad were far and away the winners of the poll, with 86% naming their parents as among their top role models.)

The study was particularly interesting given that, once again, experts are saying how damaging social media and technology can be for folks. The Guardian notes that ubiquitous smartphone use among teens coincides with increases in depression and suicide. U.S. News tells us that teens’ social media habits seem to be related to alcohol consumption. Why, some are saying that technology is even screwing up kids’ ability to hold a pencil.

But hey there, it’s not just kids and teens impacted by this stuff. It’s the oldsters, too. According to yet another study, we’re most negatively impacted by social media at age … 30. Oh, and here’s something a little sobering. Whether Facebook makes you sad or not as a parent, checking in on it—or anything else on your phone—might make your kids feel less important. In a heartbreaking writing assignment in Louisiana, a second-grader wrote, “I hate my mom’s phone and I wish she never had one.” Another teacher, responding to the letter (which was, ironically, posted to Facebook and went viral), said that “every single one of the students said their parents spend more time on FB then they do talking to their child.”

But technology isn’t all bad. According to a study by the folks at Union College, “exergaming”—video games that have a built-in exercise component—can help folks 55 and older hold off cognitive impairment.

Hey, maybe a few people we might’ve (or might not’ve) mentioned here that could benefit from something like this.

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I certainly do not consider myself an activist but I also can't help but notice the extreme prejudice and inaction when the offense is directed towards a Christian or conservative. Roseanne's tweet was one sentence and yet I have heard about it for days on all major networks over and over again. The show was cancelled and the head of ABC called personally to apologize. However, Joy Behar went on a rant disparraging the VP's faith in Jesus implying that he was mentally unstable for doing so. Where was the backlash on that? Where was all the major network coverage of the "incident"? The View is still on and Joy is still hosting. I saw a clip in which she apologized on air for her comments but that was it and I had to look it up online to find it. No one was shouting it over and over again in the main stream media. Just saying...
Dan Haynes More than 1 year ago
Fox "News" covered the Behar/Pence business at great length. They are consistently in the top 3, so they're as mainstream as it gets. With all the paranoia about Sharia Law that exists in the US, it should come as no surprise that a pious Dominionist who is a heartbeat away from the Presidency would also fall under suspicion and criticism. 
milhistorian More than 1 year ago
With all due respect, the idea that Mike Pence is a Dominionist is laughable, unless you consider anyone who thinks that maybe their religion should influence more things than whether or not they go to church on Sunday mornings to be a Dominionist.
charitysplace More than 1 year ago
It's so lovely that we now have a million people who can bully others on social media and "correct" society.

But without any true love, compassion, or forgiveness. :P

Regarding phones... I went to a hairdresser the other day, one of those quick in and out places. I noticed they offered no magazines or anything to read, so as I sat there staring at the floor for 45 minutes, I had time to notice a mother come in with her eight year old. She stared at her phone the entire time. Whenever he tried to look, she shoved him aside. There was nothing for him to do or play with. Just her and her phone.

Made me sad.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
That is sad! But I feel like it may not be 100% the fault of the phone. Many people who own phones would never treat their kids this way. No, it's the fault of a mother who doesn't care about her son and would have found another way to ignore him if a phone wasn't available.

-Posted by Chuck

charitysplace More than 1 year ago
I think it's also a flaw of the hairdresser's office to assume everyone will be on their phone -- and not to provide toys / things for kids to do while they wait. :P
[removed] More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Also the most popular. I bet ABC was even sadder than you to see it go!

-Posted by Chuck
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think folks are being a little hasty with Roseanne. Her tweet was mean-spirited, but I'm not certain it was intended in a racist way. She's clearly not thinking straight, or thinks she's untouchable, and that's wrong - but did it warrant the cancellation of TV's most popular show and the firing of hundreds of innocent people? This would have blown over in a few days and everyone would have forgot. I think this action is too drastic.

-Posted by Chuck
Joe Terrell More than 1 year ago
Please explain to everyone how comparing a black woman to an ape is NOT suppose to be "intended in a racist way." And how she's continued to tweet similar sentiments after the cancellation and apology. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think it was supposed to be more mean-spirited about Jarrett's looks, not necessarily about her race. Roseanne even said this. That's horrible, still, but not necessarily racist.

-Posted by Chuck
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Her tweet was "[if the] muslim brotherhood and planet of the apes had a baby [that would be Valerie Jarrett]." She compared her to the movie Planet of the Apes. Not an ape. I saw the comment as likening Jarrett to a harbinger of anarchy and the degradation of basic society. It had nothing to do with race.

~ Lionsong