A Tuned Out Nation Creates a Cultural Crisis
When you become a keyboard warrior it’s inevitable you’ll get lost in your own arrogance. But what happens in the real world when you disagree? Are you willing to call your own dad a Nazi and cut off your relationship because he voted for Trump? Would you label your mom a libtard because she voted for Hillary? Moderate is now a dirty word, conflated with apathetic. 2018 is a weird time to exist.
Roseanne shows the silent majority of middle/working class life. Many middle class voters stay true to their blue roots and others, disillusioned by liberal handouts (and yes, some by racism), went for the guy promising tax cuts. The middle class is not a monolith and no one party is full of perfect solutions.
When we fail to be critical of both sides, even if we identify strongly with one, we put ourselves in a dangerous predicament. Blind following creates horrific human tragedy like the Holocaust, The Armenian Genocide, and The Great Purge. Stay woke, not just in a superficial sense. As my old high school American History teacher would say, “question authority, just not mine.” Access to educational material is at an all-time high, yet many Americans are choosing to turn off the critical thinking component of their brain in favor of becoming tribal puppets. It’s a goddamn epidemic.
Middle America is usually too busy working, living, distracting itself from its inevitable demise, to get hyper involved in politics, involvement that’s a right endowed to people with free time and wealth. Roseanne shows how Middle America shoulders all the blame for our current political climate and how the middle and lower classes are also the individuals who feel the brunt of changing policy.
In episode one we immediately get a joke about how the Conner family insurance doesn’t cover all their medication. The middle class answer? Make do and approach the situation with humor. Roseanne and Dan dole and bargain their statins and pain meds like kids trading Halloween candy. Their daughter, Darlene, jumps in to make a quip about Peeps not helping Roseanne’s blood sugar levels, an ode to Generation X’s and Millennial’s focus on natural health. Contrary to snide baby boomer comments, the health movement is a rational response to a future where affordable healthcare seems elusive.
This cannabis-smoking, craft beer loving millennial would rather chug a beer with Dan Conner in the garage than grab a microbrew in Brooklyn with Lena Dunham because someone’s political affiliation does not equate to their character or intellect. Can we stop letting the polarizing idiots of each side drive societal discourse? Their rhetoric is tearing our country apart and I’m not on-board with a civil war.
A Focus on Familial Issues
Past the shock of having non-liberal protagonists, lies the heart of the show. The Conner family is representative of a large sect of American life. Twitter morality wars, curated hashtags movements, and never-ending news cycles are not representative of tactile life. When your identity has more depth than the latest outrage, there’s more complicated matters to sort out. Those matters range from providing care to your ailing parents, to the ethics behind renting your uterus out to a stranger, to your flamboyant son’s response to bullying. These individual issues can be incredibly painful to approach. Criticism, comedy, hope, and resilience are the humanistic antidote to these struggles.
Anyone who has ever been disciplined with a belt knows it’s a good thing we see progress in parenting styles, though the new way isn’t always the best way. Roseanne’s play between two generation’s parenting styles is entertaining and heartwarming. What gets passed down and what does a child decide is a technique that can die? When you create your own familial structure you can either completely reject your parent’s guide, create a carbon replica parenting formula, or build upon your parents’ example and evolve your approach.
Through anecdotes like episode three, where we see the play between giving Harris (Darlene’s daughter) soft love (Darlene) and tough love (Roseanne), we find that the answer tends to lie in between. Similarly, the answer of how to move America forward lies in between the two warring ideologies of the right and the left. Through humility, discourse, and intellectually honest analysis we can come together to, dare I say, “Make America Great Again?”
PBR is an American staple. I’ve drank the beer at country bars with farmers and I’ve drank it at Manhattan dive bars with broke hipster college students. Could PBR be the gluten goodness that binds our country together?
I don’t know what the entire solution to our polarized political climate will be, but I do know sharing a beer is a good place to start. Cheers to thoughtful discussion, empathy, and lots of laughs from the Conner household. John Goodman hit me up anytime you want to share a cold one.