Admittedly, I am still wary of trusting newly-awakened Republicans – those willing to stand up against the excesses of #Trump’s ignorance, bigotry and cruelty, and against the party they love dearly. My wariness stems from the level of introspection the Republican party has failed to show in figuring out how Donald Trump could so easily take control of their party – beyond the absurdity of trying to blame President Obama or Democrats. Even the newly-awakened are focused on “now” and not how they got here. Some Republicans blame Trump’s prior identification as a Democrat (ignoring the fact that he has opportunistically joined several political parties before ravaging theirs). Trump clearly knew he could never successfully run bigoted messages through the Democratic Party, and that those same messages would be well-received by Republican voters.
Any time I tell myself to be more trusting of Republicans who have become Trump critics, I also remind myself to try to let go of old fears based on lingering cultural memories for the slightly milder Trump-esque messages the Republican party pushed prior to his election. Rationality will win, in the end, yes? I would say yes, but then there is the lesson of John Podhoretz, a lesson I will let serve as my wake-up call. This lesson is an easy one. The moment there appears to be a “data driven” message that suggests that Trump’s ignorance, bigotry and cruelty are also mainstream, some will celebrate it and treat it as a warning that it is time for a change in the broader society – a change that should be more inclusive of Trump voters (and, implicitly, more inclusive of some of Trump’s messages). Data used as evidence for change can be as limited as viewer ratings for a single episode of a sitcom revival that may not be indicative of what follows.
To buy into Republican euphoria over Roseanne ratings, you must first cling to the, ridiculous, long-standing GOP argument that liberals do not watch programs or movies featuring conservative actors. Pretend it is true despite the fact that several cities with the highest viewer rates were in states that have traditionally (pre-2016) voted with the Democratic party and that several cities with the lowest ratings are in deep red states, Assume, as Podhoretz seems to, that the ratings are primarily due to pro-Trump voters who tuned in to see their choices defended and the rehabilitation of the well-embraced, Clinton-generated, label: “Deplorables”. I guess it is safe to ignore the viewers who are not Trump supporters, but who also remembered The Connors, fondly, before politics became so sadly acrimonious. While it is clear that the “Deplorables” celebrated a successful Hollywood actress embracing their guy, the original show was comprised of fans of all political leanings.
More than excitation, there should be a growing concern facing those moved by this turn of events. Roseanne-the character is supposed to be modeled after Roseanne-the actress. How much blurring between the two will occur with the sitcom? Roseanne – the character, will have to always remain the Roseanne-lite version of the actress. What happens when Roseanne – the character, begins yukking it up over joining an attack on 17-year old David Hogg by tweeting the conspiratorial phrase “Nazi Salute”? I can’t quite imagine playing a laugh track over this one:
Can Roseanne-the character talk about her penchant for conspiracy theories involving the deaths of Seth-Rich, and the mind-numbingly stupid Pizzagate ? It is difficult to fathom that Trump-conservatives really want to see themselves portrayed on TV, embracing the full Trump agenda. It is even harder to believe that those defending Trump supporters, even while taking on Trump, want to see his supporters as they are, either. Imagine what that reflection looks like on national television, in an attempt to normalize the worst pro-Trump excesses. What Trump supporters seem to really want is a warmer, fuzzier, more rational portrayal of themselves, streaming into America’s living rooms.
I agree with Podhoretz that there is a wake-up call for Hollywood. I think that call is, “DON’T FALL FOR IT!”. The other shoe has yet to drop. Roseanne – the show has yet to deal with the reality of Roseanne-the actress. There is also the discrepancy between the version of #Trumpism she portrays, and the reality of #Trumpism the rest of us live. Beyond the white-working class, there are many more of us who are harmed, daily, by #Trump’s message. There are many of us whose children are at greater risk, whose sensibilities have been insulted and assaulted, who feel displaced by a nation and by people we were learning to trust and embrace. At the risk of reminding my Republican friends of another failing that got us to this point, I am hesitant to use a well-worn phrase that fits, but I will. Hold on to your hats: You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig. Let’s wait to see where the show takes us before screaming “Victory!”.
My Republican friends, you may have to hold on to those premiere episode ratings. Trumpism and reality will soon set in and if there is anything we have learned in our recent experience it is this, that everything Trunp touches eventually becomes a rousing dumpster fire. I expect the same outcome, here.