Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Bloom Is Off The Rosie

The Rosie Show is now no more.

Not that it ever was. 

It's up to the reader to say whether this is schadenfreude or not, but the whole idea of The Rosie Show was doomed to fail from the get-go.  I, no expert on television programming (as I've stated, the only things I watch  on television are the news networks: CNN, MSNBC, FOX; Turner Classic Movies, some ESPN, the long-running sci-fi show River Song--formerly known as Doctor Who, and/or whenever The Golden Girls are on), figured that frankly, Miss O'Donnell had done enough damage to herself to make watching The Rosie Show "must-see TV".

Unlike most of America, I was not charmed by Miss O'Donnell on The Rosie O'Donnell Show.  I did not find her cute and lovable, with her 'cutey-patootie' and wacky games and offbeat animated opening.  There was always something a bit off, a bit insincere in her demeanor.  Still, the story was being sold that O'Donnell was this delightful, bubbly person, but I was not having any of it.

I think it came from the whole Donny Osmond brouhaha.  The forever fawning Miss O'Donnell expressed great love and affection for our Mormon troubadour, until he made a crack about her weight.  On the whole, it was rather innocuous and I doubt Osmond (a man who has never been known as cantankerous) meant any harm by something O'Donnell had made light about herself (no pun intended).  Somehow, some way, the entire thing became a fixation with her, taking it as a great insult.  She wouldn't let this slight go, and eventually a shamed and humiliated Osmond to appease her was made to perform his hit Puppy Love dressed as a dog.

I looked on the whole thing as unpleasant, spiteful, vindictive.  To me, it showed Rosie not as this pleasant, delightful being, a Queen of Nice as she was dubbed, but as a mean-spirited person who would go to great lengths to humiliate someone who had made a silly comment.  To my mind, every time she was gleefully bubbly on television (a bit like Katie Couric without the journalism degree), there was something vaguely forced to her schtick.

Time proved me right.  When she chastised Tom Selleck for being a member of the National Rifle Association, I think we began to see the cracks in the veneer of sweetness.  O'Donnell can have whatever views she wants, but I was taught that you do not insult or berate your guests (and vice versa).  By deciding to go after Selleck for having opinions different from her own, I think we saw the Real Rosie: a woman who simply cannot tolerate (ironically enough) any dissent from her views whatsoever.  When she publicly announced her lesbianism, she was applauded.  All well and good, until again, a fixation began to set in.

Once she ended her show, that's when everything went bonkers.  She began to be almost strident in her aggression to anyone who disagreed with her on anything.  Her public statements became more odd, with the coup de grace of her insistence that September 11th was an inside job.  However, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Somehow, the Rosie America fell in love with saw an angry woman, one seething with rage against anyone and anything.  She was becoming her own worst enemy.  We saw a short-tempered woman, raging about nearly everything.  Her tirades were so overblown that in An American Carol, a spoof of liberals, the O'Donnell character was so unhinged that even the Michael Moore-type was appalled and said she was over-the-top.

When she joined the Barbara Walters'-headed The View, she did bring in ratings.  However, someone as intelligent as Walters must have known it would bring trouble.  I never understood her feud with Donald Trump, thinking the whole affair ridiculous (two rich people fighting over a beauty contest).  The low point was her now-legendary fight with right-winger Elizabeth Hasselbeck.  The former Survivor contestant is no member of MENSA, but their arguing about the Iraq Intervention and how O'Donnell thought Hasselbeck should have defended her when anyone with a brain could see Hasselbeck did not agree with her in the slightest is just another sign of how detached O'Donnell was. 

O'Donnell has never understood that she cannot give out her opinion and expect people to disagree, sometimes strongly to her.  Her reaction is to be prickly with critics, say outrageous things (such as being a so-called 9/11 Truther, a group as rational as those who insist President Obama was born outside the U.S., or that "radical Christianity" was as much a danger to America as "radical Islam") and then take umbrage when she is called on it.

Oprah NEVER shares the cover (or the limelight).  In all the years Miss Winfrey has published O: The Oprah Magazine, I think she's shared the cover exactly three times: once with Miss O'Donnell, once with Dr. Mehmet Oz, and the first time I think with First Lady Michelle Obama.  Therefore, to have Rosie on with her was Winfrey's open declaration that Lady O had her back.   

I suppose Winfrey and O'Donnell are kindred spirits in one sense: they believe their own press and truly think they are both infallible and indispensable.  I have not been a fan of Winfrey either: her introduction of New Age gurus like Deepak Chopra or Marianne Williamson has made the idea of "spiritual but not religious" a dominant one in America (to my mind,  it's like saying one believes in something, just not exactly sure what).  Winfrey's whole show at times was an hour-long confessional.

My father was not a man of many words, but something he once said stayed with me.  "Confession is good for the soul but best saved for your priest".  By that, he meant that while it is good to unburden yourself, the fewer people know the better.  Winfrey was of a different mindset: the MORE people you tell the better.  If I had a drug problem, or drinking problem, or multiple affairs, I find it anathema to tell the world.  Winfrey delights in having others share so much.

Winfrey decided that O'Donnell would be the perfect person to be the second face of OWN: the Oprah Winfrey Network.  Again, how is it that a woman known as a shrewd businesswoman could possibly imagine that a pretty unpopular person would bring in viewers to her flagging network?  It's a bit like making the Titanic your flagship.   

I did see bits of The Rosie Show.  The first one had her interview a veteran injured during Occupy Wall Street.  I thought, 'here she goes again', using her program to promote her own left-wing views.  One wonders if she would have been so compassionate to someone injured at a Tea Party rally (assuming the police had to go and clear out one).  The second was when she was interviewing 'comedic genius' Russell Brand.  I watched for one minute, and couldn't take any more.

No one watched The Rosie Show, simply because she had done too much damage to her reputation by now.  The good will she had built up as The Queen of Nice dissipated as O'Donnell went on her self-righteous tirades, her inability to tolerate even the slightest disagreement with her views, her constant anger and rages.  She became a parody of the "angry leftist" and "angry lesbian", doing more damage to her views than any conservative. 

It is no surprise that The Rosie Show was cancelled.  Even on a network most Americans skip, it was a waste of money.  The big surprise is that despite her poisonous reputation, she still keeps getting shows.  Perhaps the thought is that controversy sells.  I would argue that while people enjoy watching train wrecks, but have no interest in watching someone they no longer care about or like.

No woman was more ironically named as Rosie O'Donnell, for there is nothing rosy about her.  She is someone who has wrecked her own career and now is living the repercussions of her public anger.  Where her career will go, I have no knowledge.  I wish her well, but I also would offer this advice:

Seriously, get a therapist, if necessary try one of Oprah's gurus to find peace.  Americans love to forgive, so try to be more moderate, and perhaps you can resurrect your career...if you still wish to have one, or try Broadway.  Until you can calm down, all your ventures are pretty much niche productions, and they will be too expensive...even for Oprah. 

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