“This book is dedicated to those I love and to those who love me. May we always think for ourselves and continue to rebel against the Confederacy of Dunces who now rule the earth.”
Some, like my sister (and even young, foolish little me), might have asked, “Roseanne Barr wrote a book? What has she been up to all these years, and is she still relevant?”
Well, Barr, herself, asked this exact question when she set out to turn her internet writing venture, Roseanne World, into a book. The answer she came to was:
“…there are a lot of books out there right now by well-known… people who are utterly brilliant and have timely, relevant things to say. Some of these talented figures, many younger than I, have enjoyed big success on TV more recently than I have… I’m not too proud to say that I hate those people. But I can’t let the jealousy I feel for them and my inability to focus keep me from trying to show them up and get out there and have my say, too!”
Essentially, “I’m still here, I still haven’t been jumped by the Baby Boomers’ (or, as she calls them, the Casket Patch Kids’) senility, and I have plenty to say about the shit that’s gone down in recent history.”
Which she does, unquestionably.
In Roseannearchy, Barr starts right off the bat by telling those who question her relevance that she wants to “telepathically air-smack [them], right in their cake-hole! Who do I have to be? I am the Domestic Goddess, you impertinent creature, you!”
What’s more, her biggest aim, she writes, is to speak for the same people she spoke for all those years ago on her groundbreaking show, Roseanne; the same working class people, the same who daily face discrimination in just about all aspects of their lives, just about everyone who’s being made to suffer under the patriarchal toe of political and economic bigwigs.
So how relevant is Roseanne today?
Her writing style (and, above all, unguarded anger) suggests that she is a woman of the world with more experiences and consequential wisdom than the average idiot who willingly wanders the path set forth by overly powerful and idiotic leaders. She’s been through the muck, she’s come out on top, and now, full of “grandmother love,” she has every right to teach the world a lesson and share her grandmotherly wisdom.
She reveals considerably dark stories about herself — stories about ex-husbands and psychologically abusive family — in the hopes that the reader heeds her advice and doesn’t fall into those traps.
[Let me just say that if either of my grandmas was at all like Barr (that is, if my Dominican grandma ever said anything and if I understood a word of Korean because I’m pretty sure my Korean grandma’s pretty badass, actually), I wouldn’t’ve been that kid who was too shy to speak or too insecure to do anything to lose friends in elementary school: I’d have been that BAMF who didn’t care about what the other kids thought and who probably went around telling everyone how babies were made (information I would have undoubtedly gained from my beloved Grandma Rosie).]
With that said, though her writing isn’t necessarily as zany or endearing as that of other comediennes like Tina Fey, the sheer ferocity with which she says “Fuck off!” or “Are you kidding me?” or “You. Are. An. Ass.” is equally entertaining and engrossing. I’d love to say hilarious here, as the book in its entirety is, in fact, hilarious, but I’m not sure I want to describe the book as just a collection of comic musings.
Because it isn’t.
What Barr accomplishes with Roseannearchy, with chapters with titles like “Right Is Wrong, and We Need to Straighten It Out,” “Borderline, Bipolar, Paranoid, Obsessive-Compulsive, Jewish, and Mormon,” “Rants for a New Century,” “Eat, Pray, Shit, Shower, and Shave,” is attaching personality to politics.
Politics on their own — on TV, spewing out of the mouths of who Barr sees as ignorant bungholes — are polarizing. But with an added touch of humanity — of a real person who’s suffered, just like we’re suffering, through the mistakes of The System — things start to make so much more sense.
Toward the end of the book, in reference to the incident in which she messed up the Star-Spangled Banner and subsequently lost a number of endorsements, as well as to what it means to her to rise up out of the ashes and succeed, Barr says, “I sing almost every day now. God enjoys it, so who am I to deny Her?”
The bottom line is, then, young, foolish me is now a slightly older, slightly less foolish disciple of Roseanne.
Next time in The Grin Bin: “thx thx thx: Thank Goodness for Everything” by Leah Dieterich