Earlier today, veteran actress and comedian Roseanne Barr found herself in a firestorm of controversy after replying to a Twitter user and referring to Valerie Jarrett, an African-American woman who once served as Barack Obama’s top presidential adviser, as an “ape.” This led to Barr’s own Roseanne co-stars and coworkers issuing statements that distanced themselves from Barr and her beliefs and social media comments. Ultimately, the rebooted show was canceled by ABC, amid major backlash from fans and fellow celebrities alike.
Through the years, Barr has ruffled many feathers with her statements and actions, and these are five other times when the outspoken comedian did or said something that courted a ton of controversy and outrage.
Claiming Parkland Survivor Gave A Nazi Salute
As a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump on and offscreen, Roseanne Barr has often been accused of spreading wild conspiracy theories relating to the administration and about notable current events, including this year’s Parkland school shooting.
In February, a 19-year-old gunman stormed his former school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and killed 17 people. One month after the tragic shooting, Barr retweeted a photo of David Hogg, a student who survived the Parkland shooting, and wrote the caption “NAZI SALUTE.” According to the Tampa Bay Times, this led to calls on social media to boycott her ABC sitcom.
While Barr wasn’t the only person who alleged that Hogg was raising his fist in order to make a Nazi salute, the Tampa Bay Times noted that such allegations, and a similar one claiming that certain Parkland survivors were “crisis actors,” led to the firing of two separate legislative aides. Meanwhile, Roseanne quickly deleted her original tweet, clarified that Hogg was not giving the Nazi salute, and suggested that the photo might have been edited anyway.
Sharing Tweets In Support Of QAnon
As noted by People, Roseanne Barr was well-known as a political progressive and had even gone as far as campaigning for the Green Party’s presidential nomination in the 2012 elections. Four years later, she thought the best thing to do to “shake things up” in America was to elect Donald Trump as the country’s president. She voted for him in the 2016 elections and has staunchly defended his policies and statements since then, while also making incendiary comments about several of his political rivals.
Just two months ago, Roseanne’s support for the president reportedly got to the point where she tweeted a false report claiming that Trump freed children “held in bondage to pimps all over the world” and broke up a child sex trafficking ring. As explained by the Huffington Post, this tweet was in reference to a conspiracy theory from a 4Chan member called QAnon, who alleged that the Robert Mueller-led investigation against Trump was a means of subterfuge to allow the president to keep cracking down on such trafficking rings.
Like the David Hogg tweet, the post was also deleted after several social media users pointed out that Roseanne was sharing fake news.
Going Vigilante On George Zimmerman
In 2012, a Florida man named George Zimmerman was accused of shooting and killing an African-American teenager, Trayvon Martin, in what he claimed was an act of self-defense rather than an act of racial violence, as many had alleged. While Zimmerman was being investigated, Roseanne Barr tweeted a home address supposedly belonging to him, but it turned out to be the residence of his parents, Robert and Gladys Zimmerman. It was a house where the younger Zimmerman hadn’t lived in for about six years. Shortly after that post, Barr issued another tweet where she said that she’ll retweet the address should no arrest be made and “maybe go to his house myself.”
As a result of the incorrect tweet, George Zimmerman’s parents had to flee their home “in the middle of the night,” as members of the press sought to interview them in the aftermath of Barr’s tweet, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Robert and Gladys Zimmerman also sued Roseanne for posting their address, with the couple’s lawyer also citing Twitter’s terms and conditions, which prohibit users from posting another person’s “private and confidential” information.
Posing As Hitler For Satirical Magazine
Shortly after the Roseanne reboot premiered and became a huge hit with viewers across the United States, several old photos began to leak out, showing Roseanne Barr dressed as Adolf Hitler and posing next to an oven, baking “gingerbread Jews.” According to Haaretz, the photos were indeed legitimate shots from a 2009 article and came from a satirical Jewish publication called Heeb, with Barr reportedly coming up with the idea for the photoshoot.
In a 2011 interview quoted by Haaretz, Roseanne spoke in defense of the photos, saying that she was “pissed off” by the controversy, and by the suggestion that she was “making fun of the people in the ovens.” She added that she was trying to impart the message that “Holocausts” have become so common since the Second World War, and have almost become as ubiquitous as baking cookies.
“That’s what I’m trying to say. Let’s stop holocausts,” Barr concluded.
‘Butchering’ The National Anthem At MLB Game
The day was July 25, 1990. It was a seemingly ordinary day, and just another game for the San Diego Padres, as they hosted a doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds at Jack Murphy Stadium. In between the two games, Roseanne Barr stepped up to sing the “Star-Spangled Banner,” and what transpired could have easily gone viral, had social media been a thing close to three decades ago. Fans widely panned her performance as an off-key “butchering” of the national anthem, which ended with the comedian grabbing her crotch, then spitting on the mound.
Many fans saw the stunt as a deliberate insult to everything the “Star-Spangled Banner” stands for, but as the Sporting News wrote in a 2015 “oral history” of the event, the bad singing might not have been completely by design, at least at first.
“My impression was that she started to sing the anthem, and she wasn’t probably the most talented singer,” former Reds first baseman Hal Morris recalled. “I think the crowd’s perception was that she was doing that on purpose. They started giving her negative feedback, booing her a little bit. So she played to the crowd a little bit and kind of exacerbated her singing.”
In the 28 years since Roseanne Barr shrieked her version of the national anthem at a Padres game, it has routinely topped lists of worst celebrity renditions of the “Star-Spangled Banner.” But Roseanne herself has often tried to defend it, even calling it better than Fergie’s own controversial performance at the 2018 NBA All-Star Game, according to the Huffington Post.