A Rose by any other name

For a couple of days I’ve gotten two comedian’s confused. But first let me interject a completely unnecessary digression about female comedians (since I’ve been studying French for the past several months) The two entertainers I’ve confused are both women. In french, and also English, they could be called “comédiennes.” My wife would object to this female designation and she got me to drop “mailman” for “letter carriers” years ago. French, however is riddled with gender. Nouns are all either male or female and I have yet to discern a memorable pattern that would allow me to know whether a cow or a horse is one or the other. I’m not alone.

In The Greater Journey David McCullough relates the story of a rich American expat during the German seige of Paris. He was doubly beseiged when a mob of radical Parisians stormed his house and demanded that he give them his horse and cow so that they could postpone eating rats a little longer. When the old gentleman came out to confront them all he had at his command was the impoverished French he had avoided learning for his decade or more, of residence in the City of Light. He told them he would let them have his cow “le vache” but not his horse “le cheval.” He did so with great dignity and this made his use of “le” before the “vache” so comical to them that they broke out in good-hearted laughter. That was because his “le” indicated a cow was a male and everyone knew cow was a female word.
The mob let him keep his horse.

“Rose” is also a “female” word in French. A speaker is required to precede it with a “la” rather than a “le.” It is French for the adjective pink. As in English it is also a girl’s name and my confusion had to do with two comedians – Roseanne Barr and Rosie O’Donnell.

In recent days I’ve heard Donald Trump praise Roseanne Barr for bring back her old television series “Roseanne” from the dead. She also brought her TV hubby, actor John Goodman, from the dead. His character suffered an apparently fatal heart attack so that he could go on to a more exalted career in Disney voiceovers. I was confused because I’d thought that Roseanne had been having a very public feud with Trump some years earlier and that Trump had even berated her during one of his debates with Hillary Clinton.

Nope. That was Rosie O’Donnell. Trump had been calling her ugly since she joined “The View” a collection of women who talked about politics on Network television. O’Donnell like Barr both had strong opinions and raise hackles. In the end O’Donnell’s outspokenness got her pushed off The View. But I had another memory to recover about one of the Roses, Roseanne Barr it turned out, that I wanted to review. By chance it was about “recovered memory.”

The Rose that supports Donald Trump once hopped on the then faddish “recovered memory” movement. During the fad a great many women began recalling what they argued were long suppressed memories of their having been sexually abused as children. I have no doubt that suppression like this happens. My two years teaching at Proctor were so humiliating for me that I tried not to think about them for years afterward. Even now they are particularly hazy for me much to my regret. But in my case I never forgot them completely.

When Roseanne Barr told her audience that her father had sexually abused her she got a lot of pushback from her family saying it just wasn’t so. In time Roseanne Barr walked back the allegations. The following comes from Barr’s Wikipedia Page:

On February 14, 2011, Barr and Geraldine appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show where Barr admitted that the word “incest” could have been the wrong word to use and should have waited until her therapy was over before revealing the “darkest time” in her life.[105] She told Oprah Winfrey, “I was in a very unhappy relationship and I was prescribed numerous psychiatric drugs… to deal with the fact that I had some mental illness… I totally lost touch with reality… (and) I didn’t know what the truth was… I just wanted to drop a bomb on my family”.[105] She added that not everything was “made up”, saying, “Nobody accuses their parents of abusing them without justification”.[105] Geraldine said they did not speak for 12 years, but had recently reconciled.[105]

Barr, like so many other celebrities is a creature of the modern age in need of attention to maintain her career. Much as claiming to have been sexually abused her current “blue collar” support of Donald Trump is a smart move to revive her career. Take that Hollywood! Having given this some though I’m reminded of the adage, “A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” I’d add that the question of fragrance might depend on the definition of “sweet.” Which reminds me of a french term I learned yesterday. I read it in the travel book, Five Nights in Paris, that I began reading to Claudia. “l’odeur.”

As for Trump’s nemisis Rosie O, She got in dutch with the networks for saying the same thing that Donald Trump would say twenty years later and that would help get him elected President. I’ve clipped a couple paragraphs from O’Donnell’s Wikipedia page if you like irony as much as I do.

In December 2006, O’Donnell criticized Donald Trump for holding a press conference to reinstate Miss USA Tara Conner, who had violated pageant guidelines, accusing him of using her scandal to “generate publicity for the Miss USA Pageant” (to which he owns the rights) by announcing he was giving her a second chance.[46][47] O’Donnell commented that due to Trump’s multiple marital affairs and questionable business bankruptcies, he was not a moral authority for young people in America. She stated, “Left the first wife, had an affair. Left the second wife, had an affair – but he’s the moral compass for 20-year-olds in America.”[47] In response, Trump began a “vicious” mass media blitz in which he appeared on various television shows, either in person or by phone, threatening to sue O’Donnell (he never did).[48] He called her names, threatened to take away her partner Kelli, and claimed that Barbara Walters regretted hiring her.[48][49][50][51] Walters was stuck in the middle as a social acquaintance of Trump’s, and said O’Donnell didn’t feel like Walters defended her enough, which led to what both women agreed was an unfortunate confrontation in one of the dressing rooms.[52] “I had pain and hurt and rejection,” O’Donnell said, “sometimes [my emotions] overwhelm me. Sometimes I get flooded.”[52] Walters denied that she was unhappy with O’Donnell, saying, “I have never regretted, nor do I now, the hiring of Rosie O’Donnell.”[51]

On April 25, 2007, ABC announced that O’Donnell would be leaving the show before the end of the year because of a failure to reach agreement on a new contract.[53]

O’Donnell condemned many of the Bush administration’s policies, especially the war in Iraq and the resulting occupation.[54] She also questioned the official explanation for the destruction of the World Trade Center, and stating in one episode, “I do believe that it’s the first time in history that fire has ever melted steel”.[55][56] She consistently mentioned recent military deaths and news about the war, and criticized the U.S. media for its lack of attention to these issues compared to media coverage throughout the world. This led to a series of heated exchanges with co-host Hasselbeck, as well as “the most-discussed moment of her professional life.”[52] On May 17, 2007, O’Donnell rhetorically asked, “655,000 Iraqi civilians dead. Who are the terrorists? … if you were in Iraq and another country, the United States, the richest in the world, invaded your country and killed 655,000 of your citizens, what would you call us?”[57] Conservative commentators criticized O’Donnell’s statements, saying that she was comparing American soldiers to terrorists.[39] On May 23, 2007, a heated discussion ensued, in part, because of what O’Donnell perceived as Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s unwillingness to defend O’Donnell from the criticisms; O’Donnell asked Hasselbeck, “Do you believe I think our troops are terrorists?” Hasselbeck answered in the negative but also stated “Defend your own insinuations.”[39][58][59][60] O’Donnell was hurt and felt Hasselbeck had betrayed her friendship: “there’s something about somebody being different on TV toward you than they are in the dressing room. It didn’t really ring true for me.”[52] O’Donnell stated that Republican pundits were mischaracterising her statements and the right-wing media would portray her as a bully, attacking “innocent pure Christian Elisabeth” whenever they disagreed.[39] O’Donnell decided to leave the show that day, but afterwards stated that the reason was not the argument itself, but rather the fact that she saw on the studio monitor that the camera had shown a split screen, with her and Hasselbeck on either side. O’Donnell felt that the show’s director and producer “had to prepare that in advance […] I felt there was setup egging me into that position. The executive producer and I did not gel.”[52] O’Donnell and ABC agreed to cut short her contract agreement on May 25, 2007.[61] ABC News reported that her arguments with Hasselbeck brought the show its best ratings ever.[62]

In May 2007, Time magazine included O’Donnell in their annual list of the 100 most influential people.[63][64] O’Donnell was named “The Most Annoying Celebrity of 2007” by a PARADE reader’s poll, in response she said, “Frankly, most celebrities are annoying … and I suppose I am the most annoying, but, whatever.”[65]