Tom Arnold, Mara Gay speak: First we heard from Roseanne Barr, then we heard from Samanthe Bee. We'll offer three takeaways:
The culture of the roast: To what extent are we dealing with the "lowest-IQ-possible" culture of the Comedy Central roast?
Like almost everything else on basic cable, comedy culture has grown dumber and dumber and dumber and dumber, which also means coarser and coarser.
Before these two, we had Louis C.K., not to mention Michael Richards. Then, along came Wolf.
We act like their dick jokes are bright and insightful. Guess what, people? They aren't!
Tom Arnold speaks: We were glad to see Tom Arnold on Anderson Cooper last night. As someone who knew Roseanne for a few days back in 1986, and liked her a lot, we were glad to see him raise a point we've been thinking about:
COOPER (5/30/18): When you were married to Roseanne, I mean, you also worked with her on the original "Roseanne" show did she display any signs of racism or xenophobia or conspiracy theory kind of beliefs?Back in 1990, we were disappointed and saddened when Roseanne, a person we'd very much liked, did that ridiculous national anthem thing, making people hate her. Arnold spoke about mental health issues. At the present time, as our culture dissolves, there seem to be a lot of such issues around.
ARNOLD: When I met Roseanne, I just worked in a meat packing plant for three years in Iowa. She was a little older. She was a feminist. I'd never met a feminist even.
She was so much more involved that I was. I mean, I was a meatpacker, and a bouncer, and a young comic. And I learned so much from her about, you know, about not just be a liberal, but about that kind of thinking...
COOPER: So what do you think it is that changed her?...Obviously, you know, she's talked about mental health issues before. But these conspiracy theories, and, obviously, these racist statements. What do you think it is?
ARNOLD: You know, I have mental health issues myself. Roseanne obviously does. It's something that—you know, right before we got married, I went to rehab. You know, I'm an alcoholic and drug—recovery from both of those. She was there for me.
And then after we got married, you know, we dealt with her mental health issues as a family. And she's done amazing with that. And, you know, it's something that she's dealt with and I can see that.
It's a thing about—I have to say this about the president we have and his gaslighting and lying. You can see him perpetuating mental health issues for the entire country...
Anyone with mental health issues, like Roseanne, is going to heighten things. And she is having mental health issues right now.
(At present, our culture is dissolving in part because of Trump's apparent mental health issues. Twenty year ago, we went through years of similar lunacy from the biggest stars of the upper-end mainstream press corps. Do you believe that Candidate Gore really said he invented the Internet? That was their own deranged version of Spygate. They pimped it relentlessly, as a group, for the bulk of two years. mixing it in with various types of sexual insults. We liberals just sat there and took it.)
Mara Gay attempts to speak: Arnold's plea for understanding leads us back to Mara Gay's fine remarks on The 11th Hour. Gay is the newest and youngest member of the New York Times editorial board. She appeared with Brian on Tuesday night, after ABC cancelled Barr's show.
In our view, Gay delivered highly worthwhile remarks thoughts to Brian and Gene. Rather plainly, the titans weren't buying:
WILLIAMS (5/29/18): Mara, were you surprised at the speed with which today happened? This was a major television network, a big lumbering company, as they all are.In our view, Gay was a bit halting in her exposition. But she was expressing the wider vision we recently saw in some of the work she did as an undergraduate at The Michigan Daily.
GAY: Yes. I was surprised but I also have to say that there was something special about what happened, what ABC did. And I think it's a big deal. I think they deserve a lot of credit for it. I think that so much of what's going on in the political realm that's toxic has actually started to pervade everyday life and the culture and the fabric, as you guys said, of the country.
...I also want to say that, even though what Roseanne Barr did was absolutely abhorrent, and I do believe that people should be treated like adults, and there hasn't been enough of that in political discourse frankly, it's also, I hope, a moment not to vilify her and her fans, and even Trump's base. Even though some of the things they're saying are abhorrent, I think it's a moment for both accountability, but also the offer of redemption and hopefully, as Valerie Jarrett said, a teachable moment.
I mean, you can't force someone to come to the table. But you know, we have to live with one another in this country. So there also has to be an opportunity to say, "Let me explain why this is really wrong and offensive and hurtful," and hopefully we can have that conversation. I'm afraid we`re not there yet. But that is where we need to go. We can't just cast off large swaths of American society.
"We don't have a person to waste," she was saying in effect. She spoke in favor of outreach and forgiveness and a search for broader understandings.
In our view, Brian and Gene weren't buying. Gay was speaking the language of Dr. King and Mandela and other sages of human history.
As a general matter, we humans don't like such ideas.
("I just think there's a way to hold folks accountable without vilifying them," Gay said again at a later point, as the boys grumbled and pushed back.)
These are heavily tribalized times. Everywhere you look, you'll see the extent to which our floundering species was built for the purpose of reflexively loathing The Others.
In prehistory, this served as a survival skill. Today, our instinctive desire to loathe Those People, the ones Over There, is a great deal less helpful.
Click here, move to the 5-minute mark. We think Gay had the right idea. She isn't likely to find a lot of takers, but we hope she can sharpen her game.