Épater la bourgeoisie or épater le (or les) bourgeois is a French phrase that became a rallying cry for the French Decadent poets of the late 19th century including Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud. It means to shock the bourgeoisie.
But executives at ABC and its parent company, the Disney Corporation, never had any interest in being perceived as “the Trump-friendly network” and in fact probably resented that the success of the Roseanne revival was driven, at least in part, by the character’s support for Trump. If Roseanne Barr was rational — and she pretty obviously isn’t — she would be aware that the suits were looking for any excuse they could to cut ties. (By the way, it didn’t matter if the show was way less political than its reputation suggested; that was the big headline coming out of the show’s return.)
Barr may have felt she was irreplaceable, but she really wasn’t. Roseanne got higher ratings and attracted 10 to 18 million viewers, but also cost more than the average television show; John Goodman and Barr were each making reportedly $250,000 per episode. “Kantar Media has estimated the show’s initial run of nine episodes over eight nights netted $45 million in ad revenue.” That’s nice, but for Disney, it’s a drop in the bucket. A generic sitcom with no-name actors will get half the ratings and cost a quarter of the price.
Former President Barack Obama and Michelle are still revered and beloved in most corners of Hollywood; when Barr said one of their best friends, Valerie Jarrett, looks like a character from Planet of the Apes, just what did Barr think was going to happen? Did she think the Obamas and all of their allies were just going to shrug it off, let it pass without response? You might hate the Obamas but give them credit for standing up for one of their own — or for having cultivated a reputation to the point where they may not have even needed to pick up the phone. Everyone at ABC and Disney understood that there would likely be consequences if they tried to give Roseanne a pass.
You think the Disney corporation wants to take any grief for an extra $45 million in ad revenue? You think advertisers would be eager to go back to the show as Barr made herself radioactive?
This is how you understand corporate activism. This is how you understand media double standards. When conservatives cry foul and demand accountability for Samantha Bee or Joy Reid, they’re communicating with executives and colleagues who have known and liked “Samantha” and “Joy” for years.
When you see corporations launch into political activism, that’s not a market-tested response to the popular will. More often than not, it’s an expression of collective executive purpose, reinforced by the applause of spouses and friends — the people who matter most in any person’s life.
When you see a publication like The Atlantic jettison Kevin Williamson within days of a controversial revelation — and then watch its editor-in-chief declare that he’d “die” for writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, a man who’s written his share of heartless words — you’re watching a high-school-level morality play. We love our cliques. We have little patience for the out-group, and we can always reason backwards to justify our bias.
—How Samantha Bee Survives, David French, NRO today.
● Hangover: To use the language of the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg when he justified firing Williamson and keeping Coates on board, Joy Reid is very much “in the family,” too: “MSNBC breaks silence on star Joy Reid’s ‘hateful’ blog posts: ‘She has grown and evolved.’”
Just like her fellow fabulists Al Sharpton and Brian Williams. So much growth and evolving going on with the MSNBC starting lineup.