Monday, May 16, 2011

Studies In Sexism: Roseanne Barr Tells All In New York Magazine

Roseanne Barr, formerly the star of the hit TV sitcom Roseanne (1988-1997), now runs a macadamia nut farm in Hawai'i.  However, she hasn't lost her wit or her bite, particularly when it comes to sexism. She has an amazing article in this month's New York magazine (May 15 2011) where she rips off the lid about how she was treated by producers Marcey Carsey and Tom Werner.

It didn’t take long for me to get a taste of the staggering sexism and class bigotry that would make the first season of Roseanne god-awful. It was at the premiere party when I learned that my stories and ideas—and the ideas of my sister and my first husband, Bill—had been stolen. The pilot was screened, and I saw the opening credits for the first time, which included this: CREATED BY MATT WILLIAMS. I was devastated and felt so betrayed that I stood up and left the party. Not one person noticed.
As Roseanne fought for creative control of her show, and for ownership over the character she had created, she was bullied, undermined and derided as a crazy person by everyone except her fellow cast members.  This included numerous women on the set and on the production team who watched while men insulted her.  Barr describes one confrontation where she threatened the writers with a pair of shears in their own office, a place where she "rarely went...since it was disgusting." (Go here for Tina Fey's revelation in the March 14 New Yorker that male writers on Saturday Night Live piss in cups rather than leave their offices to walk down the hall to the bathroom.) She also tried not to go to the writer's room because it too was a sea of sexism. Invariably, as soon as she entered the room,
one of the writers would crack a stinky-pussy joke that would make me want to murder them. Male writers have zero interest in being nice to women, including their own assistants, few of whom are ever promoted to the rank of “writer,” even though they do all the work while the guys sit on their asses taking the credit.
 When the show hit number one in the ratings, instead of sending her the car that male stars receive, ABC sent her a humongous chocolate bar.  Read the whole article here.

Hat Tip.


Historiann said...

In the New Yorker excerpts from her new book Bossypants Tina Fey reveals her discovery of what male writers and producers mean when they claim that a female comedian is "crazy." She says that this means that these men no longer want to f^ck these women, ergo they are "crazy" and the men aren't interested in casting them for guest spots on 30 Rock

Historiann said...

Just went and read the whole thing. This, to me, was the most enjoyable part:

When the show went to No. 1 in December 1988, ABC sent a chocolate “1” to congratulate me. Guess they figured that would keep the fat lady happy—or maybe they thought I hadn’t heard (along with the world) that male stars with No. 1 shows were given Bentleys and Porsches. So me and George Clooney [who played Roseanne Conner’s boss for the first season] took my chocolate prize outside, where I snapped a picture of him hitting it with a baseball bat. I sent that to ABC.


Comrade PhysioProf said...

My dependence on empty flattery, without which I feared I would evaporate, masked a deeper addiction to the bizarro world of fame. I had sold my time and company at deflated prices just for the thrill of reserving the best tables at the best restaurants at the very last minute with a phone call to the maître d’—or the owner himself, whose friendship I coddled just to ensure premium access to the aforementioned, unbelievably good smoked-salmon pizza.

Yeesh, that sounds like a fucken terrible way to live. Fame has always seemed horrifying to me, and this really makes it vivd.

I wonder how she got into macadamia nut farming?

-k- said...

God, I miss Roseanne.

FrauTech said...

Wow thanks for catching this one and posting it. Grew up on Roseanne and loved it. And can I say she looks freaking fantastic? I mean just look at her! You can see it in her eyes. I love it's been 10+ years (though feels like a generation ago) and she looks more powerful and free now than any of the photos from the sitcom.

Anonymous said...

Cf. Lady Gaga in the Times today: “People would really try to push me around, because the sentiment was always: ‘She can’t possibly be for real. This must be fake, this must be artificial.’ And always kind of bossing me around and treating me like some kind of pop tart little Twinkie that just rolled in and has a record deal.”

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