Jimmy Kimmel has asked people to be compassionate and offer help to Roseanne Barr after her show was cancelled for a racist Twitter rant she made against former Barack Obama staff member, Valerie Jarrett.
In the aftermath of the tweet, ABC decided to pull the plug out of Roseanne’s hugely popular eponymous TV sitcom, which had been renewed for a second season, and the network now stands to lose tens of millions of dollars in outstanding crew and cast fees. Barr has herself apologized for the tweet, even blaming Ambien — a sleep medication — for her tweet, which has only invited the scorn of more people. Even the maker of the drug, Sanofi, took down Roseanne, saying “racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication,” according to USA Today.
Moreover, several cast members including Sara Gilbert, who was Roseanne’s on-screen daughter and one of the executive producers of the show, has vowed never to work with Barr again. As BBC notes, it is highly unlikely that she would ever find a role again in the mainstream entertainment industry, though Roseanne Barr could expect a lot of attention from conservative media outlets.
All of which led comedian Jimmy Kimmel, who has already floated the idea of renaming the show to Dan based on the character of John Goodman, to tweet out a request to everyone criticizing Roseanne for her “indefensible” rant.
“What @TheRealRoseanne said is indefensible, but angrily attacking a woman who is obviously not well does no good for anyone. Please take a breath and remember that mental health issues are real. The Roseanne I know could probably use some compassion and help right now.”
And while Jimmy Kimmel might have had noble intentions while trying to defend Roseanne’s actions, his tweet is already being taken to shreds by mental health campaigners. Some of the most vociferous critics are self-confessed fans of the comedian but cannot allow Kimmel to use mental health as an excuse to defend racism.
“What she said is indefensible but you’re going to defend her anyway?” the writer Roxane Gay responded to Kimmel’s tweet.
“Mental illness, if that’s what this is, does not excuse racism. It is not synonymous with racism. And critique is not attack.”
Frederick Joseph, who admires Kimmel for his late-night political commentary on the state of affairs, said that racism is as “real” as the mental health issues he is talking about, and as a result must not be swept under the carpet.
Melissa McEwan agreed, saying she keeps wondering if Roseanne could have “taken a breath before she launched into a racist public rant that might have been triggering for any of the millions of people of color who have mental health issues from a lifetime of sustained trauma.”
Comedian Livia Scott was even more brutal in taking down Kimmel, saying that it is time for him to send a text to Roseanne Barr if he is so sympathetic to her, and not a tweet to us.