Debra Messing Talks ‘Divisive’ Roseanne Barr And The Separation Of Art From The Artist

Roseanne Barr’s controversial social media presence was a hot topic during The Hollywood Reporter‘s comedy actress roundtable, held more than a month and a half before the star’s racist tweets led to the cancellation of “Roseanne”.

During the roundtable, Debra Messing, who gathered with Drew Barrymore, Tracee Ellis Ross, Alison Brie, Frankie Shaw, Rachel Brosnahan, and Molly Shannon for the informal chat, weighed in on Barr and the notion of separating the art from the artist.

“In a perfect world, we take on a different character, one that’s separate from ourselves. The thing that has made ‘Roseanne’ and Roseanne Barr so…divisive,” the star of Global’s “Will & Grace” says.

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“In its day, it was one of the greatest shows ever, and it really pushed the boundaries, but she made it clear from the beginning that this was her. She said, ‘I’m just being me.’ That’s very different from saying, ‘I’m creating a character,'” Messing continues. “And then when you have someone who is very outspoken on social media and who says things like ‘Heil Hitler’ or that gay people are pedophiles or…

“So, it’s not about having a conversation about health care or about defence of the country, it’s about humanity, racism, sexism.”

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“And essentially normalizing white supremacy,” “SMILF” actress Shaw interjects.

Their fellow actresses agree, with Brosnahan suggesting it’s time to take a better look at the reasoning behind the separation of art from its creator.

“There’s a difference between being tolerant and tolerating intolerance, and there is no need to tolerate intolerance. So, can we separate an artist from their art? Yes, we do all the time. We have forever. Should we? I think we need to re-evaluate,” the “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” actress says.

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“And we’re in different times because of what’s happening in the White House,” says Ross, whose show “Black-ish” has tackled political issues, recently having one of their episodes — “Take A Knee” — shelved. “Black-ish” series creator Kenya Barris has reportedly butted heads with ABC over some of the show’s more politically charged messaging.

“Things that were not tolerated or not acceptable have been lost, and I think there is a recalibration that needs to occur. It’s the reason it feels so frightening right now,” Ross adds.

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