Happy, Happy Anniversary, fans of my Tough Love Mothering of two or three generations of television viewers! I will be writing about the Roseanne show all day today and for the entire week!
Twenty five years ago my show went on the air -- where it has remained ever since, sometimes three to five times per day on multiple networks, all over the world. The show was my attempt to move the left to the middle, to comment on the content and context of television entertainment itself, which I studied as a young girl.
I knew that everything on television was bullshit -- the forcing of Gender-ism and consumerist fundamentalism down the gullets of the viewers, especially the female ones who could be persuaded to buy anything that promised to make their breath fresher, breasts and butts firmer, hands softer, countertops gleaming like their teeth and kitchen floors but without any waxy buildup.
The episode called "The Fifties Show" is the single episode that illustrates the impact of Roseanne on television -- watch it if you have the chance. It's my favorite episode of any television show, ever.
It took a lot of courage for me to stand almost completely alone in the face of corporate witch-burning terrorism, class attack, and voracious sexist censorship waged against me, from which I have never, and will never fully recover.
However, as my daughters and sons remind me now, I knew from the beginning that there would be a terrible price exacted for what I did and the way I did it. To speak directly to working class viewers in an active feminist voice over the people's airwaves about the true nature of Reaganomics on their lives seems to have led to a fracturing of the advertising medium itself. Almost immediately, after becoming the number one television show of the '90s, I noted that commercials switched from using the passive patriarchal voice to an active feminist voice to sell cheese graters and diet pills.
I knew that I would win in the end -- that the spooking passive voice of male supremacist ideology that is television, and porn, would be forever altered with just a relatively few excellent jokes, guffaws, kicks, knives to the heart, and sledgehammers to the heads of Madison Avenue's Persuasive Piggery.
When I came out, so to speak, as a non-svelte, militantly opinionated alpha female who happened to be married with kids (it didn't quite define me, though), there was a list longer than the one of registered lobbyists and the politicians they own of things you could not dare to say or portray in the land of the free and the home of the brave. The Cosby's were trying their best to be the kind of black family that white America could have in their living rooms without going 100 percent whiteface, but when the Connors walked out ... suddenly, toeing the line wasn't the be-all and end-all of what passed for life in the 1990s in America. They were barely getting by, but they made living paycheck-to-paycheck look normal along with lots of other aspects of life that made tens of millions of American say, "Hey, we don't have to jive and strive and never arrive with all those mostly-perfect white familybots on TV! We have seen The Family and they are us."
I wanted to shoot not the messenger, but the message itself. The fact that all of this was lost on degenerate TV journalism is hilarious to me, looking back. It's so incredibly gratifying to me that the box that sells woman hating racist classist messages to intellectual shut-ins is now in its complete death throes. You're welcome American Feminism! You're welcome, American Family! You're welcome, America!