Last week, Roseanne Barr told her fans to sign up for her YouTube channel. TV interviews were “too stressful & untrustworthy,” she tweeted. She was going to film her “entire explanation of what happened and why” and post it to YouTube, referring to the recent scandal in which a tweet of hers led to the cancellation of her rebooted ABC sitcom, despite the series’s huge viewership.
Over the next few days, Barr tweeted out a couple more details.
Barr’s YouTube channel has been around for a while, although it has been dormant for months. After these tweets, she revived it with a flurry of videos, including one late Thursday that has gotten some attention. The minute-long video feels behind the scenes, as Barr does a sound check into a mic and sighs, exasperated, as a man off camera attempts to explain the concept behind a video Barr, presumably, is about to film.
Barr is told to imagine herself as the president, caught in a scandal. “Imagine in his statement, to keep and save his job, there were jump cuts, multiple outfits —”
“I’m trying to talk about Iran, I’m trying to talk about Valerie Jarrett, the Iran deal!” Barr shouts. The tweet that led to her firing referenced Jarrett, saying if the “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby,” it would be the former president Barack Obama adviser, who is black. Referring to black people as monkeys or apes is a long-running, well-known racist trope.
In the video, Barr continues to shout, before looking directly into camera.
“I thought” Jarrett “was white,” Barr screams, using a vulgar word for a woman instead of Jarrett’s name. She repeats the scream, along with a few more obscenities, and then the video ends with Barr taking a long drag on the lit cigarette in her hand. One of the men off camera laughs.
On Friday afternoon, Barr posted a second, one-minute video about the controversy, in which she says she believes she was fired by ABC because she voted for Donald Trump, “and that is not allowed in Hollywood.”
A handful of her other videos over the past couple of days appear to document stages of cooking the same batch of French toast. One video is devoted to grinding sticks of cinnamon, another discusses which frying pan browns better. Yet another, titled “Tips from the Domestic Goddess,” shows Barr holding her dress around her hips as she demonstrates a technique for women who would like to urinate standing up.
Whatever Barr’s plans, the turn to YouTube is more or less in line with the way the Conspiracy Internet works. Although YouTube has gradually started to crack down on misinformation, it is still considered a core platform for conspiracy-promoting personalities — such as Alex Jones and his network of contributors — to build an audience.
Barr herself has long been a part of that community, primarily as an amplifier. She has a history of sharing anti-Muslim memes and promoting conspiracy theories such as Pizzagate on her verified account, long before her TV series was revived. Some of those tweets even directed her followers to watch YouTube videos on those conspiracies, pulled from deep in the circles of people who devote a lot of online time to promoting them. For this fringe, she was unique: a genuine celebrity who believed what they believed.
When “Roseanne” returned and was a hit, Barr promised to turn down the politics on her personal social media presence — a promise that did not last very long and ended up leading to the cancellation of her show. Now that she has lost the platform of a network show, it makes sense she would return to YouTube.
[this post has been updated]