Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Time for another RANT

I took some heat last week because I said I didn’t want to watch the new ROSEANNE because I didn’t like her political position. I then said, if others watched and liked it, great. Just because I chose not to tune in doesn’t mean I'm asking others to steer clear too. I was merely stating my objection. Actually, that’s only partly true. I also find her voice grating, and just generally am not a fan. I got into a blog war with her a number of years ago as some of you might recall. That was fun.

But here’s my point: If someone chooses not to watch a particular show it can be for whatever reason that person chooses. If I don’t watch a show because I think the set is ugly, or I don’t care about the subject matter, or a company is sponsoring it that I'm boycotting, or I don’t like the shoes a character is wearing – that's my prerogative.  Am I OBLIGATED to watch a show starring a character spouting a political point of view I don’t agree with? Yeah, maybe, if I were a reviewer and it was my job. Yeah, maybe if I was a program executive for ABC. Yeah, maybe if I were an agent and one of my clients was associated with the show.

But otherwise, I can choose to skip it and don’t have to justify my decision. No one is paying me to watch it.

Must I watch in order to prove I’m an open-minded person? Sorry but NO. And if you don’t want to watch MASH because I wrote it that is every bit as valid as you don’t like shows set in Korea, you don’t like shows where people wear green uniforms, you don’t like the size of the credits, you don’t think a guy wearing a dress is funny, or you don’t like shows that are incredibly liberal. If you were to say you didn’t watch MASH because of its constant anti-gun preaching I would say that’s fair. I wouldn’t say you are not a good person because you won’t subject yourself to Hawkeye’s constant railing over the dangers of firearms.

Today however, if you don’t watch a particular show you’re close-minded, or racist, or sexist. There are “acceptable” reasons for not watching a program and there are “unacceptable” reasons. And people are quick to tell you whether your reason is permissible.

ALL reasons are permissible.

If you want to watch ROSEANNE tonight be my guest. May you love it. I won’t be watching. I’ll be watching baseball. I hope that meets with everyone’s approval.


Justin Piatt said...

I always loved that quote! It would be a good one to memorize...

Jeremiah Avery said...

I agree, Ken. Some shows I haven't watched because I either don't have the time, hadn't heard of the show/don't have that channel, the premise doesn't appeal to me or any other multitude of reasons. There's no one I agree with 100%. Some differences I can chalk up to "to each their own" whereas others I find repugnant. If the latter involves someone in entertainment or at a particular company, then I'll avoid spending my money in their ventures.

There are shows, I'm sure, that I enjoy that others can't stand. Fine. That doesn't negate my enjoyment of them; just as my avoidance of a series shouldn't bother those viewers. Plenty of other things I can do with what little spare time I have than to waste time on something/someone that will annoy me.

Anonymous said...

+1. And I wouldn't watch it either. Not the Trump support itself so much as the irresponsible & absurd conspiracy mongering.

Steve Bailey said...

It's really crazy how people on the Internet are expected to justify perfectly reasonable positions. Who am I to say what you should or should not watch? If I forced my wife to watch everything I enjoy that she can't stand, we'd have divorced ages ago.

Tom said...

Roseanne wasn't so bad; the story had two characters disagree on the election but didn't circle around to either being flagged as 'wrong', despite obviously leaning towards its star.

For the record, I love MASH (moreso in its British transmission form though: no laugh track, even outside surgery) but have never really understood the humour behind Klinger wearing a dress. Maybe I'm too divorced from the taboos of the time. Were he a one-note character it'd be an issue but he isn't so it doesn't really affect things.

Rick Wiedmayer said...

Baseball or network TV?
No contest baseball.

By the way I agree with you. Watch whatever you want to watch or not watch. No reasons needed.

Brian Phillips said...

Far be it from me to give permission to someone to watch or not watch something, but I was not in the least bit offended by your not wanting to watch the reboot of "Roseanne". The fact that you need to explain that you don't wish to is silly, and that is not even taking into consideration your relationship to her.

Thanks, as always for your blog AND podcast (yes, I left a review!).

- Brian Phillips

john not mccain said...

The best and worst thing about the show was the house set. It was an amazing recreation. It was also a reminder that everything else was a pale imitation of the original. That Michael Fishman kid sure did get tall, though. Did not see that coming.

normadesmond said...

I occasionally watched Roseanne back in the day, it could make one chuckle.
I watched 10 minutes of the reboot & it was not good.
That's why deplorables will like it.

Anonymous said...

of course you can watch or not watch anything based on any old reason you choose.
And not watching because you don't like someone's politics or personal lifestyle is perfectly OK as well.
But there should be at least some separation between the personal politics and lifestyle of the artist and their work.
The Israeli Philharmonic should play Wagner. People can choose or not choose to go according to their philosophy.
Chinatown is one of my favorite movies, even though Polanski is a repulsive person

Mike McCann said...

I couldn't agree more. This is a free country. We can choose Roseanne, Masterpiece on PBS, or Bugs Bunny on CN. I'm with Ken. I'll also have baseball on tonight. I consider it my treat after working all day. My choice shouldn't have to be yours.

Terrence Moss said...

The gays (and I say that as one) were quite bad about this. I have seen some tense discussions between those who watched, wanted to watch, thought about watching and abjectly refused to.

tavm said...

What galls me is seeing comments of people saying "Saturday Night Live" is suddenly liberal and too-biased against Trump to enjoy it anymore, perhaps forgetting it was always on the mostly left-wing side (remember Franken and Davis' skewering former president Nixon in "The Final Days" sketch?) and often made fun of Bill Clinton when he was wrapped in the Monica Lewinxky scandal. Yes, maybe they do mostly nothing but Trump jokes on every "Weekend Update" now but, really, Trump has done and said so many things that make it unavoidable to ignore them that what other choice do they have? Also note that when Dick Ebersol was in charge, there were less of those kind of sketches because he wasn't enamored of such humor (and I'm only guessing he may have been a Republican or at least a Reagan supporter) and therefore, rejected most political sketches. Though I can partially see why Conservatives might have been thinking Obama got mostly a free ride on the show during his two terms in office and I did see how in favor of Hilary they were during her campaign...

Mmryan314 said...

I'm with you Ken. I watched Roseanne on Hulu and it was funny and sometimes even endearing. It wasn't so much that it was Pro Trump as it didn't bash Trump. However, her recent comments this week and her vocal, obnoxious support of Trump has caused me to refuse to watch again. I take mini stands occasionally other shows too.

Eduardo Jencarelli said...

Easily the best take on the issue I've read all week. No one is forced to watch anything, and boycotting something is a legitimate action to be taken by any sensible viewer.

I've had the same problem this past week with the release of the Brazilian show "O MECANISMO", on Netflix. It's basically right-wing propaganda, disguised as a cheap police thriller, using very dishonest narrative techniques to distort political facts and shape public opinion towards one side (one closer to Tea Party sensibilities). There are certain people who defend this show and then accuse others of promoting censorship just because those people refuse to watch it.

For all intents and purposes, I was going to avoid it, but as a writer, I took the time to watch and analyze the pilot. To see if there was any semblance of artistic merit, given some of the genuine talent involved (a couple of them personal acquaintances).

I was appalled at the amount of cliches, melodrama, soap opera trappings, moments where suspension of disbelief weren't remotely enough for me to not notice the glaring liberties taken for "dramatic license". And it had terrible sound editing as well (first time I ever considered activating subtitles). Overuse of narration to explain facts that took place right before your eyes. If I wasn't willing to watch it before, I sure as hell am not planning to watch it any further episodes. This abysmal pilot episode was more than enough.

Some people argued it got better later on. But as a writer, I defend the notion that you have to hook viewers with the pilot. If you can't, you're doing something wrong.

Furthermore, the showrunner, José Padilha, when confronted with a legitimate question about adapting real-life politics into fiction (specifically using a politican's real-life statement as a line for a character who's supposed to represent a complete different politician in real-life), his response was: "I didn't write the episode, it was the work of another writer and another director".

He then proceeded to name both the writer and director before the press. To me, this is the most unprofessional response any executive producer could ever give. An honest showrunner should be responsible for everything that's on the screen, and should protect his writers and directors.

Anthony Hoffman said...

Also, why the fuck would someone care about what shows you watch? Are they concerned about which brand of toilet paper you use too?

blinky said...

Roseanne has always been a wack job but her show was/is funny.

This brings up the question of separating an artist's work from their personal behavior.

I love Louis CK's comedy but he likes to show his pee-pee to women uninvited. So now he is banned from everything.

The retail analog is I like low prices but no way am I stepping foot in a Walmart.
Or Ballast Point makes good beer but supports Trump so no Sculpin for me.

It's complicated.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

I've noticed lately as the political divide continues to drive us further apart in this country, that there's a new comparison between M*A*S*H and its rival sitcom HOGAN'S HEROES: people say HOGAN is a "pro-American" show, while M*A*S*H is an "anti-American" show. They say HOGAN is "pro-American" because it depicts Hogan and his men as all-American heroes (even though half of his team are Europeans) dedicating their lives to fighting the Nazi war effort under the very nose of their Kommandant; meanwhile they say M*A*S*H is "anti-American" because it's disrespectful to the military, the war, and those who fought in war. As Colonel Potter would say, that's a whole lotta horse hockey. Larry Gelbart always said the show wasn't about disrespcting the military or those who serve, it was anti-authoritarian; likewise, Gene Reynolds always said that unlike other military/war sitcoms, M*A*S*H was always meant to have the subtext that these nutty doctors were working like hell to save the lives of these soldiers who were wounded in action.

Is M*A*S*H a "liberal" show? Of course it is. But, I happen to know there's plenty of uber-conservatives and even military veterans out there who enjoy it just the same - they may take issues with how undisciplined Hawkeye and Trapper are, but they find other things about the show to enjoy.

And tavm, you hit the nail on the head, I've been saying it for a while now. Everytime SNL makes fun of Trump, the right immediately whines and cries about SNL "pushing the liberal agenda" and being "disrespectul" to Trump. Mmhmm. Okay. So, when SNL was making fun of Obama, Biden (as a coniving schemer), both Bill and Hillary Clinton (Bill as a fame whore, Hillary as a self-absorbed narcissist), Al Gore (having a one-track mind about Climate Change), John Edwards (an ambulance chaser), Bill Richardson (playing up being half-Mexican), Mike Gravel (an old, mentally unstable lunatic), Dennis Kucinich (a little girly man), and even playing up media bias during the 2008 (when Brian Williams hosted, one skit blatantly said the media favored Hillary to be the DNC nominee), where was everybody whining and crying that SNL was "pushing the conservative agenda"? SNL has always been an equal-opportunity offender, nothing new about that. But I'd dare say that liberals have a sense of humors, and can take jokes made at their own expense . . . conservatives, not so much. And it's funny how they say liberals are the delicate snowflakes who get offended over silly, petty things (y'know, racism, mysogyny, homophobia, things like that) . . . but look at what conservatives get offended over: coffee cups, holiday greetings, movies with black leads. . . .

Dr Loser said...

A simple experiment in transferring an opinion from one field to another should suffice. People get het up over politics (I don't really know why), but they don't get het up over entertainment. Not, at least, the people on this site. So let's remove politics and Roseanne Barr from this discussion and replace them with Ricky Gervais and entertainment.

I absolutely loathe Ricky Gervais. It is my considered opinion, and it is only my considered option, that he is a jumped-up, smarmy, talentless, conceited little twerp.

Am I supposed to watch him, even though I can't stand anything about him? I can't see anybody telling me to do that.

So why should Ken be forced to watch Roseanne?

Matt said...

I didn’t watch it because I didn’t like it that much the first time and couldn’t imagine it was better.

Gary said...

One thing I find ironic is the people comparing the Roseanne reboot to All in the Family, arguing that Archie Bunker was a right-wing conservative, and everyone loved that show -- so why criticize the Roseanne character? They completely ignore the fact that Archie was portrayed as an ignorant racist, and was proven to be a buffoon in almost every episode.

Dr Loser said...

I will try to give a restrained answer to the comment, above, that Wagner should be played in Israel. I will probably fail, but I will try.

First of all, the Israeli Philharmonic has actually played Tristan und Isolde in Israel. Under Daniel Barenboim. As far back as 1981, I think. So, actually, it hasn't been a question worth asking for oh, what, the best part of forty years?

And secondly, you are placing the conductor and the orchestra in the same position that others have placed Ken. It's not like you can't buy CDs of Wagner in Israel (or download or stream, whatever). If an Israeli wants to listen to Wagner, they can. So why force a whole bunch of artists to do something they feel an instinctive revulsion against doing? I can't see any good coming from this position.

But I'll leave it to Zubin Mehta (conductor emeritus of the Israeli Philharmonic) to sum it up best:

'There is still no Wagner in the repertoire - it is not even something that Mehta is lobbying for. He has had Holocaust survivors in his orchestra, he knows what Israelis have lived through and grown up with. "While there are still numbers on arms we can't play Wagner here," he says, simply.'

Zubin Mehta isn't an Israeli. He isn't even Jewish.

McAlvie said...

MASH was liberal? I know it was about the waste and futility of war, but why anyone thinks that has to be a liberal-only belief I can't comprehend.

What I figure is, if someone gets really worked up because you don't agree with their likes and dislikes it is because they need your affirmation. If they didn't, they wouldn't care what you like or don't like.

This is true about absolutely everything, not just politics.

I'm 50+ years old and had a showdown on New Years Day with a relative who just can't accept that I don't like sauer kraut. I'm not anti-, I don't object to anyone else eating or think it should be banned ... I just don't like it. Why it became a ritual argument every year is something I have never understood until recently. Said relative is the insecure type who needs to have everyone do things they way they do. Anyone not doing things their way is, in their minds, undermining them somehow. So it isn't about me or my tastes, it's about someone else's insecurity. That they are so insecure that they NEED me to agree with them on something as stupid as food just underscores how much of a problem they have.

And this is true about absolutely everything, not just food.

ScarletNumber said...

> I can choose to skip it and don’t have to justify my decision.

Yes, but you chose to justify it with that blog post. Once you did that, criticism of you is fair game. You can't have it both ways.

Aaron Sheckley said...

This is where the internet hive mind echo chamber really hits its stride; when you’re constantly being told that, not only is your opinion wrong, but if your opinions don’t march in lockstep with every single talking point of the group, you’re a traitor. I don’t for a second believe that every Republican is a Trump supporting goon who wants to bring back the 1950’s, any more than I believe that every Democrat is dying to increase taxes threefold so they can hand out free abortions in junior high schools. If you tell someone that the new Ghostbusters movie sucked, you’re a misogynist. If you tell someone you agree with the idea that alien who didn’t follow the proper immigration procedures shouldn’t be allowed to live here any more, you’re a racist who supports genocide. If you express the idea that guys do sometimes get the short end of the stick in a custody battle, you’re an MRA crybaby snowflake. If you put forth the idea that a person’s actions do sometimes contribute to bad consequences, you’re a victim-blamer. If you think that decent health care should be a reasonable expectation for a citizen of the most powerful country in the world, you’re a left wing Commie Socialist. If you think that women do still suffer the results of ingrained sexism, you’re a virtue signalling cuck. This is the goddamn internet, folks, where there are only two volume settings: Zero and Eleven. And society has only one of two ways to go at this point: to either realize that the net is 99 percent impotent rage with no actual meaning and to ignore it, or to keep going the way we’re going and face a future that’s going to be a lot like that episode of The Orville, where everything was judged by public opinion on the net.

I get the feeling that a century from now, sociologists are going to look back and say that the internet did more damage to the fabric of society than the plague.

VP81955 said...

Of course you're entitled to watch anything you want (alas, since the house I'm currently in lacks cable, I have to follow the Dodgers and Angels on radio).

In terms of awareness of particular shows, we're a long way removed from the days of three networks (heck, Fox -- the network, not the news channel -- will turn 31 next month). I like telling friends who like sitcoms about "Mom," and find many of them not only have never seen the series, but had never heard of it. And if that's true for an acclaimed series not concluding its fifth season on a major network, imagine the lack of publicity for shows on smaller networks, or on non-behemoth subscription channels such as HBO and Showtime.

Mike Barer said...

Wow! If people really care about what shows you watch and don't watch, it points to deficiencies in their own lives.

A. Wayne said...

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (no right wing nut) makes a good point in the latest Hollywood Reporter that the new Roseanne show is actually the most subversive anti-Trump show on. He likens her character to Archie Bunker as the fool who's lower middle class family is totally effected by the dismal situation that Trump's lies promised to fix. They are not enjoying any economic upward mobility, are dealing with bullying for a gender-fluid child, and have no reason to crow about anything he's done.

If you just can't stand Roseanne Barr (which is a pretty wide group I'm part of), but realize that the WRITERS of the show are actually quite subversively undercutting any positive reflection of her pro-Trump views, then I get that it very much is an Archie Bunker situation.

We'll see how it plays out, but I don't think we should immediately jump to the PC-wagon that is suppressing so many comedians, and be a bit more open-minded about how this show is actually portraying the VICTIMS of Trump and not the victors.

Chris G said...

I'm so old I remember not watching Roseanne's show just because I never liked her standup.

E. Yarber said...

I wonder how much overlap there is between the Roseanne fans and those who were equally indignant over supposed racist comments or your finding Woody Allen funny? I doubt there's only one type of explosive in the minefield.

Some of the problem may be that people may mistake an exchange on the internet for a deeper connection. The picture with this post made recall an interview where Alan Alda pointed out that people felt they actually knew him because they'd spent hours watching him portray Hawkeye Pierce, but to him they were complete strangers who didn't understand that was only a role he played on television. I once worked for an agency where everyone seemed to talk to me on intimate terms for no apparent reason. I eventually learned that all the interns and new hires were given piles of my story notes as an example of how to analyze material, and got used to my voice on the page, which somehow made some feel I must know them in return.

That was only part of me, though, just as Hawkeye was only one part of Alda and this blog is only one part of your life. I can separate dropping a comment here from sending an email to a friend I've known for years, and ditto for feeling I have to be in agreement with the thoughts expressed here. In fact, I tend to avoid the more contentious exchanges because I don't need to get aggravated by disagreements with people I don't really know and will likely never meet. I have enough problems with the bozos I'm trying to save from themselves professionally, thank you, and that's only because I'm trying to make a living despite them. Life is too short. Enjoy the game, Ken.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

@Dr Loser I can remember people were raising a big stink about Ricky Gervais being cast in MUPPETS MOST WANTED, simply because he's an atheist . . . apparently people didn't think atheists have a place alongside the Muppets . . . even though back in the 70s, a lot of people were convinced Alice Cooper was the Antichrist, then he appeared on THE MUPPET SHOW, and suddenly they're like, "Alice Cooper with the Muppets? Huh, so he's not the Antichrist asfter all."

Aaron Sheckley said...

@ A Wayne:

The problem with that sentiment is that to a lot of people in the 70's, Bunker WASN'T a caricature. My old man was a good example. He didn't think Archie was an object of derision; to him, Bunker was "telling it like it was". And I certainly heard a lot more people in my hick small town that shared my Dad's opinion. The point that Lear was trying to make, that Archie was a dinosaur, was lost on people like my Dad. Even if some people think that Barr's portrayal of a Trump supporter will be taken as an anti-Trump parody, I'm fairly certain that a much larger number of Trump supporters will view her voice as an affirmation of their choice of leaders, and not that they're an object of ridicule.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Yes, Gary, Archie Bunker was a ignorant racist but Carroll O'Connor was not, and neither is Norman Lear. I think that's the point. You can't separate Roseanne Conner from Roseanne Barr and her demented conspiracy theories. Support for the show is support for both, and will only increase the ratings which Trump believes to be the ultimate measure of everything. I love FRASIER despite Kelsey Grammer's political views, which it in no way reflected. From what I've heard, Wayne Rogers was not thrilled with the politics of MASH. Professionals relish playing roles that are different from themselves. For the rest, there's work in the propaganda industry.

John Glynn said...

Just not the Cubs.

Anonymous said...

Couple of points.
the whole Archie Bunker argument misses an extremely important point about All In the Family.
It would of course be naive to ignore the political overtones of Archie's character (altho once in a while Lear took a shot at Mike's politics as well).
The artistic key to AITF and Archie Bunker is that he was a complicated character. There was much more to him than his politics. He was a good father, and despite his weaknesses, a loving husband (no different than Ralph Kramden or Larry David). He could do the right thing. That is why Carrol O'Connor was such a brilliant actor. He took someone who could easily be a caricature and made him a complex individual. This is the problem with stories that reduce their characters to their politics. It is the moral complexity of characters that make them so compelling. Too much of television and movies today reduce everyone to a hero or villain, often based on their politics. Sorry, life isn't like that.
As for Wagner and the israeli Philharmonic, I can understand why some in the ensemble would not play Wagner. But there are very few Holocaust survivors left in the orchestra. There are understudies for those who are. And banning Wagner from the music repertoire for the next generation would be a mistake. it can be done in a respectful and educational fashion. No one is saying you have to like Wagner the person (or even his music for that matter- but it is high art).
Three of the greatest movies ever made are overt propaganda for reprehensible political doctrines
Griffith's Birth of a Nation, Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin, Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will
Would you have those stricken from our movie history?
No one is saying you have to watch them or enjoy them. But they are history- important history.

Unknown said...

A few brief (?) points:

- The only times I ever watched the original Roseanne show were when Stan Freberg appeared as a guest star. The main thing I noticed was how badly Freberg was aging.
My main reason for not watching Roseanne was that I found her voice even more annoying than Fran Drescher's (something I didn't think was possible).
Her politics (and for that matter Drescher's) were unknown to me then, and make no diff to me now.

- I just watched George Stephanopolous interviewing the kid who plays Roseanne's grandson-who-likes-to-dress-like-a-girl.
I wonder how the Breities and the Wingers are going to react to that ...
(In that same spirit, would anyone care to bring back Ms. Barr's takedown of The Star-Spangled Banner? You know, just to see how That Man In The White House and his minions might react?)

- Extrapolating on that, I wonder if Roseanne's numbers will be as large in six weeks as the premiere numbers were.
TV history says that most likely there'll be at least some drop-off from Week 1; if it's more than slight, how will the Chorus handle that (not well, I'd expect ...)?

- I've got to take note of the Alan Alda/Hawkeye grab, and its content.
Anybody here remember a movie called Murder At 1600?
It was a whodunit set in DC, in which Wesley Snipes and Diane Lane (with mild support from Dennis Miller) investigate the title crime; Alan Alda plays a Government functionary whose role in the proceedings is anything but Hawkeye-like.
I won't tip the finish here (although in a sense I probably already have), but I will mention that what happens to Alda at the movie's end got a big round of applause from theater audiences (at least it did when I saw it in the plex ...) (Several times ...) (And I won't speculate exactly why ...)

If you've got anything in the hopper about the Sinclair Sinfonia, I'm sure we'd all (well, most of us, anyway) love to read it ...

Ken said...

Noteworthy issue is that refusing to watch, either a sitcom or a talking heads show, is NOT censorship.
Stating that I will not support companies that support deplorables is NOT censorship.
Non Disclosure agreements with doofus in order to hide criminal and foul behavior IS censorship.
Using status and power to attempt to block advocates IS censorship.
Amazing these bloviating wingnuts who assume that they have an absolute right to a fat paycheck and platform to broadcast from and claim any threat to the inanities they spew forth is censorship is absurd.
This is like claiming reviewers of "Ishtar" were trying to silence Dustin Hoffman.

Tammy said...

I'm sorry you felt you had to justify yourself, Ken. At least it's lead to an interesting discussion...

To Anonymous who mentioned Wagner and Israeli orchestras: I get what you're saying, but this is a tricky one - the (informal) ban is not just due to Wagner's anti-Semitism, but to Holocaust survivers' associating his music with the Nazis (some even say it was played at the camps). So it's a matter of trying not to cause these people any more pain. By the way, when The Six Million Dollar Man was aired here it was renamed The Man Worth Millions, for the same reason.

Joseph Scarbrough: It blows my mind that some people find MASH anti-American; I've just started watching it, and it seems very pro-American to me (maybe I haven't seen enough episodes?). I mean, most of the characters are portrayed as competent, dedicated to their patients, humane to P.O.W.s - what am I missing? The only negative aspect is the treatment of women, but somehow I imagine that's not what these critics are complaining about. As McAlvie said above, it can't be the anti-war sentiment, right? (Really hope that's not the case.)

Damian said...

Judging something on the merits is still more legitimate to me than judging the creator's political positions. Weak comedy writing is definitely a more grounded reason to skip a comedy than because the showrunner/star is liberal/conservative. Otherwise we're doomed to live in a Fox News polarized world forever.

Dana King said...

The Beloved Spouse used to ask me at time why I didn't like certain foods. The answer I finally landed on that solved the issue once and for all was, "Because I think it tastes like ass. That's all the reason I need."

Xenu said...

I completely agree, Ken. I have my reasons for avoiding certain actors. I've stopped going to see Tom Cruise films over the last few years ever since I learned more and more about the horrific abuses by his so called church and also reports about his own unpleasant and aggressive behavior. The moron even tried to recruit Steven Spielberg into his cult, who wisely stopped working with Cruise after that.

I don't care about an individual's politics. After all, you had a great time working with Kelsey Grammer, a Republican. But Cruise, Travolta etc being part of a rotten cult that has destroyed countless lives is unforgivable. Plus, ever since becoming a brainwashed Scilon, Cruise's acting has got shitty, so it's not like anyone who avoids his films is missing anything.

Dr Loser said...

"Three of the greatest movies ever made are overt propaganda for reprehensible political doctrines
Griffith's Birth of a Nation, Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin, Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will
Would you have those stricken from our movie history?"

I don't think you're following the general thrust of the argument, are you? Maybe the Internet is too sophisticated for you.

MikeKPa. said...

I caught the two ROSEANNE episodes on Sunday. Wanted to hate it because I don't like her as a person and find her grating. Apparently Tom Arnold did too, along with about two dozen of her former writers. However, the show was funny and tossed jokes at both sides of the political aisle. Curious to see where it heads, but I'm game to watch it again.

Cap'n Bob said...

I agree, Xenu. I won't watch anything with a Scientologist in it. Also, there are some actors I can't abide and I'll avoid their shows/movies/acts. Streep, Hanoi Jane, and Clooney come to mind.

Matt said...

To that end, I'm not watching CNN, MSNBC or FOX because ALL OF THEM are contributing to the poison coursing through the veins of our society. Twenty years of cable "news" channels has turned "politics" into a weird sport where "my team is great, your team sucks!" I prefer to go back to a time where I didn't know where a person stood politically because other things to talk about.

Anonymous said...

@Dr. Loser
If the point is they shouldn't play Wagner's music, does it mean we shouldn't watch those movies?

Anonymous said...

Ahhh..Ken....Said perfectly.....I have no desire to watch Roseanne and I somewhat line up with her viewpoint. I don't think any less of anyone for the choices they make in their viewing or listening....and I am perfectly fine with watching shows that spout a point of view different than mine. I won't watch political shows though..not out of fear of being offended but I am just so sick of hearing #45's name at this point....
It is amazing..I can hear something that offends me and my life actually was able to go on...as normal...
Ken, write about what ever you want...say what you feel and I will more than likely read it...although jokes about banjos are off limits...but that's just me.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

@Matt Same here. I don't follow any of these news sources, I prefer to use my own powers of observation in seeing what's going on in the country around us. It still ain't pretty either way.

Diane D. said...

I’m actually glad to see many people agreeing with Ken that ANY REASON whatsoever is good enough for not watching Roseanne or any other show. I was shocked to read (in comments on previous post) that some people seem to consider it a character flaw to NOT watch Roseanne! I felt like I was in the twilight zone.

Unknown said...

This reminds me of a strange criticism paradox that some people try to trap others in. First, if you're watching something (or reading something) and you write some criticisms of it, you might be told, "If you don't like it, don't watch/read it." Then, if you're not watching/reading it and you write criticism of the same thing, you might be told, "If you're not watching/reading it anymore, you can't criticize it." It's a strange no-win situation, where no matter what you do, you aren't allowed to criticize something.

I don't know if anybody else has experienced the same thing, but it always drives me crazy. I assume that there is a group of people for whom any criticism of a favorite show/series/whatever is a heretical notion to be stamped out immediately.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

@Unknown I have similar problems with Taylor Swift. Hate that little narcissistic whiner, but her songs are on the radio a lot, and when I complain about it, the response is always, "If you don't like her, don't listen to her." It's like when there's certain commercials that you can't stand that are aired over and over and over again when you least expect it.

MikeN said...

That is some tremendous moving of goalposts. No one said you were obligated to watch the show. YOU chose to state that you do not want to watch because of Roseanne's politics. You could have said a number of other things. I've also found her voice grating and comedy not funny(but John Goodman was great). As long as you weren't being dishonest and finding excuses while the real reason was you don't like her politics, that's fine.
You shouldn't complain that people get upset with you for not watching and give a defense that is different from the reason you said.
What will you do if Kelsey Grammer says he likes Trump? Will you then refuse to watch 'Underlings'?

Aaron Sheckley said...

Maybe it extends from this weird outlook that, if you're criticizing something I like, then you're criticizing ME. The concept of "if you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything" is laughably childish; adept and insightful criticism of a work is an art form, and there have been plenty of masters at doing it. Yet apparently lots of people are so insecure in what they like that it's not enough that they personally like it; EVERYONE must like it too, or else that somehow translates into a personal insult. Why are people so invested in this stuff? Disliking something isn't the same as providing insightful and constructive criticism; the only reason you need to dislike something is that you don't like it. You tell someone you can't stand Roseanne Barr, and someone will pop up and tell you're that wrong, and you should watch her some more and then maybe you'll "get" her. That's like arguing with a person when they tell you they hate peas, or snow, or their mother in law. Mention on a forum somewhere that you find The Walking Dead to be one of the most tedious, boring programs you've ever seen and you'll get ten paragraphs from a fan that not only tells you you're wrong, but that you're obviously brain damaged for not liking it. You know, it's okay to hate Barr's persona; I do, and no amount of counterargument from a fan is going to change that, any more than you could convince me that I actually like liver. If you like her, great; there's no right or wrong answer, and I'm surely not invested enough in my dislike to try and argue someone into seeing my point of view. It's the same with Trump; I despise him, but I wouldn't waste a single moment arguing with one of his supporters. If someone watched his conduct during the campaign and first year and a half in office, and could still remain an ardent supporter, then there's absolutely nothing to argue about with them, because our individual interpretations of what's good and bad would be so far apart that there's absolutely no common ground to even argue about.

Frederick Herman "Freddy" Jones said...


I read your post with great interest.

You said, "Am I OBLIGATED to watch a show starring a character spouting a political point of view I don’t agree with? Yeah, maybe, if I were a reviewer and it was my job. Yeah, maybe if I was a program executive for ABC. Yeah, maybe if I were an agent and one of my clients was associated with the show. But otherwise, I can choose to skip it and don’t have to justify my decision. No one is paying me to watch it."

I believe you have your own, personal, reasons not to watch the show, but I believed you were more neutral as a comedy writer and could parse out the caliber of the writing from the personalities and political stances of any of the stars. There are very few multi-camera sitcoms made the traditional way, and that, alone, is worthy of a look, in my opinion.

You put up a picture from MASH and while it was a good show for many, it never connected with me in a sustained way as a comedy. Especially in the later years when it became a drama with some occasional comedic moments. Like someone else mentioned, I never got a laugh from a guy wearing women's clothes.

You don't have to prove that you are an open minded person. You should prove that you are an open minded comedy writer and you take the art of comedy serious enough to look at what has become a megahit and the biggest surprise in the sitcom landscape in a long, long time.

So, I don't care if you like Rosanne (the show), hate it or anything else, but it does sort of hurt your review and critique of other shows (including the Oscars or Emmys) when you don't review or comment upon another show simply because you have a personal bias against the star.

Wishing and avoiding won't make it go away.

In fact, I'd like to know from Ken Levine why he thinks this sitcom works. However, I can live not knowing.

Loosehead said...

Ken, I will still keep reading your blog every day. Even the baseball ones and the Trump rants even though he's not MY President. Now then.

Not only did you not watch her show - there must be many TV programs you don't watch, for a variety of reasons - but you chose to announce to the world (well, to us) that you wouldn't be watching it, and seemed to take delight in telling us why. Fair enough, but to me it jarred with things you've said in the past about Roman Polanski and Woody Allen, and I detected some, well let me call it an "inconsistency".

Oh, I don't particularly like Trump. In fact, I think he's an ass, but he did win the election, through a process that elected George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

Barry Traylor said...

She could be a flaming Liberal and I would still find her voice to be EXTREMELY annoying. Plus at least for me she ain't a bit funny.

CRL said...

Watched the first episode. It seemed like some dependable actors struggling with bad material. I expect more of the same.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Cap'n Bob: As Leah Remini's series and recent books by other disaffected former Scientologists make plain, a lot of today's younger Scientologists were brought in as children by their parents. I don't feel it's right to blame them *as much* because, as Remini has made clear, they may be kept quiet and loyal by the fear of losing their families and friends.

Unknown said...


The "process that elected George Washington and Abraham Lincoln ..."

To begin with, those two elections, which occurred more than half a century apart, bear no more than a passing resemblance to the Electoral College of the present day.

Particularly since the onset of the 20th Century, our two major political parties have gimmicked up the Electoral College, so that it's now a Rube Goldberg device that the Major Parties use to game each other.

The whole Red/Blue State nonsense, Winner-Take-All (not in every state, and subject to withdrawal for whatever specious reasons), Gerrymandering (which exists in order to influence statewide outcomes), regional "strategies" (designed to turn sections of a state against each other), all the "Divide-&-Conquer" crap we see every time ...

I'm pretty sure that the Founding Fathers had no idea that this would be the future of the USA when they came up with the original system.

As to the Present Day:

The two Majors are each in the slow process of fracturing into smaller and more contentious cliques, all at daggers drawn with each other.
This in its turn could lead to a Presidential contest with more than two candidates, representing fractured segments of the old Dem. and Rep. parties.
If that happens - possibly as early as 2020 - we might see a Presidential contest with no winner: no candidate getting the required 270 Electoral Votes, sending the election into the House, which might well be even more partisan-fractured than it is now.
And won't that be fun?
(Yes, it won't ...)

I know about earlier three-ways at the Presidential level (up to and including the four-way from 1948): admittedly, we missed the calamity those times -
- but there is a first time for everything ...

I still maintain, as I have in the pat, that the Electoral College is the main source of all the problems.
The Electoral College IS The Problem.
Regrettably, we're not going to lose it any time soon - because we're used to it.
You know, like the Infield Fly Rule.
We're used to it, and we're stuck with it.
And, God help us, it may require an Electoral disaster like the one I've speculated about above to finally wake us all up.

Apologies for the detour, but Loosehead started it ...

Matt said...

In the vein of having to hold your nose while enjoying something you don't agree with...

Bruce Springsteen has, for years, expressed his political points of view, mostly of which I disagree. I've witnessed him cancel concerts for political reasons, breaking the hearts of thousands of his fans who, to many, a Springsteen concert is a major bucketlist event. I think that's an extremely heartless and unfortunate thing to do under the guise of political righteousness.

But ... when it's February and 12 below zero with no end in sight for winter, and I need a glimmer of summer hope, I'll listen to Springsteen. A great many of his songs sound like a warm summer night.

Same thing with Aaron Sorkin, who never passes up a chance to mock those not on the left and belittle religion, mainly Christianity. The sad thing is, there's no need for it. From Sports Night to The West Wing, Studio 60 to The Newsroom, all of these shows would be just as good leaving out the politics and religion bashing.

But ... I enjoy Sorkin's writing so much that I endure this nonsense to watch how he crafts a story and writes dialog, even though my nose is sore from pinching it extra-tight for an hour.

Unknown said...

I recently watched the cult movie "Volunteers." Please don't let my positive reaction to it prevent you from giving it a shot.

Remember, this film has been dissed by none-less than the writers.

Dr Loser said...

"If the point is they shouldn't play Wagner's music, does it mean we shouldn't watch those movies?"

No, that isn't the point.

This isn't actually difficult, really. First of all, there is no question that they "shouldn't" play that music. (As an aside, there is nothing anti-Semitic about it in the first place, unless you have some weird theory about, say, the Rhein-Maidens and their curious interest in gold.)

At no point has anybody said that the Israeli Philharmonic "shouldn't" play Wagner. Which as I said, they have. You might have missed that.

The relevant point here is that nobody is preventing them from playing that music. And they choose not to play that music. And it doesn't matter why they choose not to play that music.

Just as it is of no importance or consequence why Ken should choose not to watch the new Roseanne show.

The importance of the First Amendment is not that some bloviating imbecile should be allowed to broadcast his views -- although this is a necessary part of the deal.

The importance of the First Amendment is that you, the listener (or in the case of an orchestra, the medium) get to choose whether to listen to, or to replay, the thoughts of said bloviating imbecile. The First Amendment, if only by omission, gives you that freedom.

As I say, this should not be a hard concept to grasp.

MikeN said...

Loosehead, I think Ken is being more consistent. With Roman Polanski and Woody Allen, he says their work is good, but he has definitely advised against watching at least Woody Allen. It would be dishonest to say their work is bad because you don't like them personally. I haven't seen him comment on Mel Gibson's work, but again he has advised not watching him because he doesn't like the person.

I haven't seen the show, but I'm getting the impression that Roseanne is not a quality show, and is instead surviving off of being attacked by liberals. All the plot points introduced earlier have disappeared, which is acceptable for a sitcom, but hopefully not dropped entirely with each episode being just random elements thrown together.

Anonymous said...

In George Washington's time Electors were mostly chosen by the state legislatures and were free to vote however they thought fit.

Loosehead said...

Damn British, causing trouble in the colonies again!
By way of clarification, can I say "...the same system that elected good presidents, like JFK..."

Oh yeah, forgot about Mel Gibson, but I think he has been forgiven.

Johnny Walker said...

Watch something, don’t watch something. Like something, don’t like something. What it got to do with me?

The only possible way taste could extend into a debate is if someone said, “x is objectively without merit, and liking it is definite proof of a severe mental deficiency”.

Outside of insulting people, or making broad sweeping statements that claim to be objective, it shouldn’t matter.

Johnny Walker said...


Klinger was in a war zone in the US military. It’s simple incongruity that it’s funny that he’s in a dress, but the deeper humour comes from knowing it stems from his desire to be seen as mentally incompetent and so get thrown out the army. And then later, him getting precious over his attire.

Albert Giesbrecht said...

For what it's worth the 3rd episode was much better, not quite up there when the series was at its peak, but better than a sharp stick in the eye.

Dana Michaels said...

Thanks Ken, for pointing out the irrational assaults on anyone expressing an opinion on any Web venue, these days. People are never all going to agree with or like everything others write. It's one thing to correct inaccurate information presented as factual, but everyone is entitled to their opinion -- even if you or I think it's stupid. Let's all just lighten up.

PS - And Ken's friends and fans, please VOTE, this year! :-)

Anonymous said...

Roseanne is akin to Charles Winchester replacing Frank Burns.

Trump and his supporters have been treated as Frank Burns: a one-dimensional, easily mocked, easily defeated character.

Winchester's wasn't a punching bag; he was a worthy adversary.

Ken and everyone is free to watch or not watch what they want for whatever reason they want. It's not a question about freedom.

Rather, it's simply a matter of disappointment. Roseanne was a hit show. Ken is a great writer. Trump is forever in the news. Now he has a cultural ally. These factors converge. People might expect Ken to offer his unique insights. That he doesn't is a missed opportunity, not a crime.

Coram Loci said...

Roseanne is akin to Charles Winchester replacing Frank Burns.

Trump and his supporters have been treated as Frank Burns: a one-dimensional, easily mocked, easily defeated character.

Winchester's wasn't a punching bag; he was a worthy adversary.

Ken and everyone is free to watch or not watch what they want for whatever reason they want. It's not a question about freedom.

Rather, it's simply a matter of disappointment. Roseanne was a hit show. Ken is a great writer. Trump is forever in the news. Now he has a cultural ally. These factors converge. People might expect Ken to offer his unique insights. That he doesn't is a missed opportunity, not a crime.