The producer of Roseanne has some thoughts about those controversial photos of the actress-comedian dressed like Hitler.
You’ve seen the photos, right? They’re from a 2009 magazine shoot and look like this:
The backstory: According to Snopes, the photos are from Heeb magazine — a satirical Jewish publication that ran between 2001 and 2010 (and the concept was Barr’s idea).
But after last week’s highly rated premiere of Barr’s rebooted ABC comedy, the photos resurfaced on social media and began making the rounds over the Easter weekend, with some calling for a boycott of ABC.
Now THR has asked Roseanne co-showrunner Bruce Helford about the images during a wide-ranging interview. Here’s what he said:
“I know that Roseanne is a very staunch supporter of Israel and she has said as much,” Helford said. “I imagine there’s probably some amount of parody involved and all that. I don’t know the context of that so I wouldn’t make a comment on it. My feeling is that people should just watch the show and judge it on its merits. Watch the show without the accompanying background noise. Everybody, including Roseanne, wanted the show to be balanced. When we talk about wanting to open a dialogue in America, that’s something that the show does. We’re not trying to perform brain surgery or cure cancer. We all hoped that this would open a dialogue where people would start laughing at themselves a little bit, get a little less polarized and realize that this is a universal conversation. Lots of families find themselves divided on these issues. There’s got to be a way to talk and still love each other the way that Roseanne and Jackie made their peace [in the revival’s premiere]. And that’s really what we want to have come out of it.”
The photoshoot was quite controversial at the time it came out, too. Barr defended it in 2011 during an episode of The Green Room with Paul Provenza: “[The controversy] really pissed me off,” she said. “Because they were like, ‘you’re making fun of the people in the ovens,’ but I’m not making fun of people in the ovens … There’s another, deeper layer to it. You know just the everyday. Moving off this Holocaust. There’s been about fifty of them since then. That’s what I’m kind of trying to say. Is like, Jesus Christ it’s so f–king every day now, holocausts, it’s like baking cookies…That’s what I’m trying to say. Let’s stop holocausts.”
Yet some find the photos to be beyond what’s appropriate for parody:
Roseanne airs Tuesday nights on ABC.