Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The exile of Roseanne Barr

Barbarus hic ego sum, qui non intelligor illis 
I am a barbarian here, because none of them understand me.

- Ovid, Tristia
Ovid was one of Rome's greatest poets, actually one of the Big Three (along with Virgil and Horace). His reputation was enormous, so much so that he rose from relative obscurity to rubbing elbows with the family of the great Augustus himself.

It seems that Ovid was also a bit of a punk.  He wrote a notorious (and wildly popular) sex manual, the Ars Amatoria ("The Art of Love").  This was published around 8 BC, right in the middle of Augustus' public morality reforms, and he would have known that this was playing with fire.  Likely he relied on his friendships with Augustus' family, especially his grand daughter Julia for protection from the Imperator's wrath.  (Did I mention that he was a bit of a punk?)

But something happened (we don't know exactly what), and Augustus exiled his own grand daughter, along with a number of others.  Ovid was one, sent in exile to Scythia on the Black Sea which was about as far as you could be sent from Rome and still be in the Empire.  Augustus didn't allow him to return, and Ovid lived out the remainder of his years there, miserable.  Nobody there even really spoke Latin, turning this great Man Of Letters mute.  He wrote many letters to the Emperor, begging to return.  All in vain.  He had been purged, despite his popularity.  It is likely that he was purged because of his popularity.


ABC just canceled their most popular show, Roseanne.  They did this seemingly without taking any time to deliberate on the decision.  The show is more popular than other extremely lucrative shows like Big Bang Theory which has astronomically high advertising rates - presumably Roseanne is similarly lucrative.  ABC just burned that revenue stream to the waterline, without even thinking twice.

That seems a bit of a mystery, like Ovid's exile.  But the similarities are striking: both Ovid and Roseanne were a bit controversial, and poked the power elite in the eye.  Both were wildly popular, if considered somewhat vulgar.*  Both had their careers terminated by the power elite.  The power elite took action because each was an influential voice that ran contrary to the goals of the power elite.

Roseanne was so, so not helpful to the cause of Hollywood and the cultural elite.  On the contrary, the fact that a voice was allowed to speak uncomfortable anti-PC truths made it fresh, and wildly popular.  Lots of people tuned in each week to listen to anti-PC ideas.  Lots and lots of people.

And so she had to go.  It really doesn't matter what she said, which seems to be pretty mild when compared to the sort of things that get said by celebrities these days.  Certainly far worse has been said about George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, and Donald Trump.  In a larger social sense, the chatter about "White Privilege" or "All Men Are Rapists" show how widely acceptable racist and sexist remarks are on the left.  But nobody gets fired over those, which says that there's something deeper going on.

The ABC executives no doubt were horrified as they watched her popularity grow, thinking about all those viewers tuning into subversive ideas.  Her tweet, while a useful excuse, wasn't the issue.  If she hadn't said that, they would have found something else.

My take is that it doesn't matter if her show doesn't return to the air, at least as far as the culture wars are concerned.  The toothpaste is out of the tube, and the people who like the show won't buy ABC's excuse.  On the contrary, they will remember the many insults directed against them by the cultural elites and this will just solidify their hatred of those elites.  This will be what they talk about with family and friends.  Millions of people will look at this and remember why they should vote for Donald Trump.

Augustus triumphed, and oversaw the establishment of a great empire.  Along the way, he sent Ovid to where his voice would not be understood.  In contrast, ABC is breaking itself, losing money while hardening the opposition to their ridiculous dogma.  Despite their best efforts, Roseanne's voice is heard, at least in the manner that causes maximum political damage to the elites.  The Re-elect Trump 2020 campaign watches, and smiles.

* Ovid wrote elegant and influential poetry, but the Ars Amatoria (while elegant) was still a sex manual.

9 comments:

Andrew Wetzel said...

It's funny that bigoted, racist shows can remain on the air, while Roseanne loses her show for being, well, Roseanne.

I watched the reboot. I enjoyed the way the show slayed all sorts of dragons, and showed the human side of so many issues affecting the US, especially in the transitional class (maybe upper-lower class, lower-middle class, you know, the ones that are just one paycheck away from foreclosure and slowing sinking.) Blended marriages, death, dead-beat parents, opioid addiction, alcohol abuse, illegal aliens in the work force, it was all there, humanized, in a way that the watcher laughed, but still questioned.

It was a good show. I will miss it. And I'll stop watching ABC again.

Gorges Smythe said...

We've lost sight of the fact that freedom of speech is freedom to offend, or there IS NO freedom of speech. The right knows that, it's the "tolerant" left that doesn't (or WON'T) get it.

Old NFO said...

Yep, that whole freedom of speech thingie seems to NOT apply to certain people...

LSP said...

Freedom, per NFO, is selective.

Julia was, if I remember correctly, guilty of whoring on the Rostrum, albeit with the Senatorial class.

Imagine the scene -- something like "Lady Di" or Kate getting it on with the members of White's on Piccadilly's Eros.

Too much, even for Divine Augustus.

Forgive classical frenzy.

Ovid?

Res est solliciti plena timoris amor.

Borepatch said...

LSP, Julia was indeed too much for the Princeps, although not up to the later bar set high by Messalina. Err, according to Mr. Graves (who cribbed everything from Suetonius).

I was perhaps a little harsh on old Ovid, although not as harsh as exiling him to Pontus.

BillM said...


Roseanne will fit just fine with Last Man Standing on Fox. If ABC tips
just a little bit further left perhaps they will fall over? We can hope.

drjim said...

Agree with BillM.

And I never thought Rosanne would be considered "a voice of dissent"....

Glen Filthie said...

I am thinking on this and gaming it out:

If I were the Hollywood big shot that just shot himself in the balls to the tune of millions for this bout of virtue signalling - I would be looking for a way to walk this back.

Could they do the show with another actor to replace Roseanne? One that has the right opinions?

Borepatch said...

At the end of the day in Hollywood, money talks. This is why Harvey Weinstein was able to get away with his reindeer games for so long - he brought in the dough.

I can't wait for Last Man Standing to return. Maybe like BillM says it will be joined in the Fox lineup by Roseanne. There's cash in them thar hills.

Glen, I don't think they can replace Roseanne Barr. I think she's the draw.