Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
May 30, 2018
Belated thoughts on Roseanne’s Muslim episode

So... Roseanne.

I'd been meaning to post about the Muslim episode that aired on 5/8, since I watched that a few weeks ago -- and I guess this is as good a time as any to comment on it! It was... odd. Like, on the one hand, it presented the Muslim couple in a mostly positive light. Although they were on food stamps (not that there's anything wrong with that, but I imagine many conservative viewers have a different opinion, even though Roseanne's family on the show receives the same assistance), they were friendly and helpful neighbors (despite being woken up by Roseanne and company at 2AM) and loving parents. And they were baseball fans, so hey! VERY AMERICAN!

On the other hand, Roseanne's ignorance in this episode was pronounced, mostly played for laughs, and never truly examined or unequivocally rejected. The episode began with her spying on her neighbors and speculating about their terrorist plots, her every utterance punctuated with a smattering of laughter. Later, when the family's internet service was disconnected (because the Conners couldn't pay the bill), they sat around trying to guess the Muslim neighbors' password: Roseanne cleverly suggested "deathtoamerica123." Cue laugh track! Finally, upon failing to guess said password -- and really needing to use the wifi for a Very Important (but hardly life or death) Reason -- Roseanne and her sister knocked on the Muslim neighbors' door at 2AM to request it. I found that part especially weird, since it was especially oblivious to the fact that minorities in America simply don't have the luxury of doing those kinds of things. If the Muslim neighbors had scrutinized Roseanne as deliberately as she spied on them earlier in the episode, she might have felt justified in calling the police. And I know that in my case nothing except a life-or-death situation would compel me to knock on a neighbor's door at 2AM -- because I realize that, given my appearance and the high potential for a neighbor to mistake me for a criminal, that situation could very easily become a life-or-death situation with my life on the line. For the Conners, that wasn't even a concern. Hell, Roseanne even went to the neighbors' door with a baseball bat (for protection from the possible terrorists) in hand. Also, the more serious subplot in the episode -- and the reason for the family's financial troubles -- involved Dan's business losing a contract to another company that, because it employed undocumented immigrants, offered a much lower bid.

So despite the largely positive depiction of one particular Muslim family, the episode both failed to acknowledge the privilege that Roseanne and her family enjoyed in their casual activities and seemed to condone white people's negative feelings about immigrants on the whole. But I do wonder if flawed episodes like that aren't net positive programs for conservative viewers, since at least it might make them more inclined to consider that perhaps *some* Muslim immigrants deserve the benefit of the doubt. And for that reason, though I totally support ABC's decision to cancel Roseanne, I wonder if the loss of the show (and for these particular reasons; already I'm reading that the show's fans are angry about ABC's kowtowing to liberals and minorities) won't ultimately leave conservative viewers more entrenched in their bigotry.

Also, side note re: the coverage and response to Roseanne's tweet -- yes, that was clearly racist, and yes, I'm on board with ABC responding by cancelling the show. But can we reserve great words like "abhorrent" for acts that are at least a little more impressive than calling black people apes? Hell, if I had a dollar for every time I encountered that comparison, I'd be super glad (instead of just hella depressed/discouraged/etc) I read the comments on countless articles over the years. Even "vile" feels too inspired for such an uninspired tweet. (And can racists please stop bringing Planet of the Apes into those comparisons? I love those movies, darnit. Ave, Caesar, Ave.)

-posted by Wes | 6:05 pm | Comments (0)
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