When Roseanne Barr sang the National Anthem at a 1990 San Diego Padres baseball game, no one seemed to remember she was a comedienne. She made fun of herself by singing the lyrics off-key, in her white trash persona made famous by her hit show Roseanne, Roseanne added insult to injury when she grabbed her crotch and spit on the pitcher's mound as she walked off to a boo-ing crowd.
It was career suicide for the Primetime Network Queen. Even the president at the time, George Bush, called it "disgraceful," an anti-American sentiment that followed Roseanne around for years to come.
Fast forward, 25 years later -- headlines hail comedienne actress Maya Rudolph for channeling Beyoncé (her popular imitation Saturday Night Live character) for singing the National Anthem at the commencement address for Tulane University. Pop culture, social media, The Today Show.com, all loved it.
As a TV producer and media consultant, I am always observing, studying, and pondering why content hits and when it doesn't resonate.
I asked a few experts their take on the two different renditions to see if I was missing something, and the following is what was shared:
Christy Whitman (@ChristyWhitman), New York Times Bestselling Author of The Art of Having It All, said that there was a BIG DIFFERENCE in why Maya's rendition worked and Roseanne's didn't. One of the reasons mentioned was that "Maya appeared to be feminine, fun and classy and Roseanne really looked so masculine especially with her behavior of grabbing herself and spitting. It was far from feminine, fun and classy. "
But aren't they both impersonating? Or did we lose the fact that Roseanne was playing a caricature of herself? Or was it a matter of my favorite consideration which is know your audience?
Dr. Lynn Anderson (@DrLynnAnderson), celebrity yoga instructor and author of Sex Matters said, "The main difference is that Maya knows her audience and knows what she can do to entertain them. College kids! Roseanne was singing at a baseball game which is as American as you can get. She used the wrong approach for the audience. Patriotic spectators! So Roseanne missed her audience, and missed the key ingredient -- entertaining without insulting. Maya got it right."
I disagree. I think the National Anthem and both audiences should be held to the highest regard, and I don't think either performance worked, but I admit, I may be in the minority.
With the exception of a few, like media psychiatrist Dr. Carole Lieberman (@DrCaroleMD), who felt like me, "Quite frankly, I find both Roseanne's rendition and Maya's rendition offensive. In today's world, with threats against America coming from all sides, we need to give the national anthem the respect it deserves."
Twenty-five years is along time and collective opinion does soften, according to Los Angeles therapist Judith Claire (@topgunlove) and co-author of, So That's Why They Do That, "Steven Colbert's nine-year run as a conversative, a-la Fox News talk show host, who is an over-the-top patriot with a huge ego, has been another step in letting us know there are no sacred cows, and we can laugh at anything and still be a good American."
As I reconnect with my own sense of humor, Claire reminds me, "Our ability to laugh at ourselves and the craziness in our world might make us better Americans."