Like we needed another reminder of racism in America, not to mention downright incivility. Or, maybe, we did.
Roseanne Barr’s less than 140-character quip on Twitter was another potent reminder that “You are what you tweet.” Fortunately, her comment about Valerie Jarrett instantly received the rebuke it deserved. And, then some, as Disney CEO Bob Iger almost immediately cancelled Barr’s ABC TV show, a new send-up of her long-running earlier sitcom.
We seem to be inundated these days with this false cleverness, for it only takes a few ill-conceived seconds to travel, through a computer or smart phone keypad, from one’s psyche to the Internet.
While Disney’s action is to be congratulated, as often happens, there was collateral damage from Barr’s thoughtlessness, as her co-workers on the show are also out of work. That number is not trivial. Besides the other actors on the show, it includes the technical staff, the production staff and those related to the show’s advertising and marketing.
Interestingly, once again, we must give props here to corporate America for responding in an adult manner, recognizing and respecting that its employees are diverse and its consumers are diverse. Just weeks ago, we witnessed a similar positive and immediate response by Starbucks over a racist incident at one’s of its Philadelphia locations.
As we have learned through the years in the PR business, in our own communications and in representing clients, words matter; they have consequences. Chose them carefully.
-Michael Layne, President, Marx Layne & Company