Published on: May 31, 2018
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Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
It took just eleven hours this week for Rosanne Barr to go from making a tasteless, crude and racist remark on Twitter to losing her show.
One can minimize the story by saying that it all takes place in the rarefied air of the entertainment industry, but the fact is that her revived situation comedy was a major hit this season, and ABC built its next-season schedule around it. But this week, ABC pulled the plug on “Rosanne,” saying that her comment on Twitter was "abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.”
(It probably didn’t help Barr’s case that Disney owns ABC, and blatant racism doesn’t exactly fit into Disney’s image.)
I don’t particularly want to get into how disgusting Barr’s comment was, or how it reflects the degree to which social media seduces people into believing that they can say whatever is on their mind, and even give us a view of the dark recesses of their souls, and somehow it’ll all be okay.
It wasn’t this time.
But my point here is simple, and has more to do with the clock than anything else.
Axios makes the point that Rosanne Barr posted her first, offensive Tweet at 2:45 am EDT. By 1:47 pm EDT, her show was cancelled.
There’s a lesson here about how fast bad behavior and inadequate responses can catch up to a company.
Axios writes that “the immediate action taken by ABC … is a good example of how the #MeToo movement and social media have pushed American companies to be more stringent on not just sexual behavior, but bad behavior overall … In recent months, we’ve seen companies, and especially media companies, take action against talent, staff and leadership for behavior that we now know executives knew about for a long time, or had settled in the past, or behavior that would have not been reprimanded in years past.” But no more.
We’re in a no-tolerance zone. While this may not leave room for many people to make mistakes, I’m not sure it is a bad thing, because it also doesn’t allow for people to engage and indulge in persistently bad behavior.
One other note. There’s another lesson here, about the importance of diversity in management.
I think that Disney would’ve done the right thing anyway, but I also think it mattered that the president of the ABC Entertainment Group is Channing Dungey, an African-American woman who is, in fact, the first African-American president of a major broadcast TV network.
Along these same lines, I believe that Starbucks would’ve done the right thing in dealing with issues of racial bias, but it helped that the company’s COO is an African-American woman named Rosalind Brewer.
Diversity does matter. It opens our eyes and makes us aware at times and in places where we would hope that we would be on our own, but sometimes aren’t.
These two lessons are what’s on my mind this morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
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