‘Roseanne’ Effect: Dictionary Searches for ‘Racist’ Have Skyrocketed
Dictionary.com revealed Wednesday that searches for the definition of ‘racist’ have skyrocketed in the last 24 hours.
Thanks to Roseanne Barr’s racist Twitter rant that led to the cancellation of her show’s reboot, Roseanne, the word “racist” is getting a comeback of its own. Or for many people, making its debut in their vernacular.
According to Dictionary.com—owned by The Daily Beast’s parent company IAC—searches for the word “racist” increased more than 10,700% in the last 24 hours, as of 9:18 a.m. ET. In other words, 10,700% more people felt the need to research the definition of “racist”—or as Dictionary.com defines it, “a person who believes in racism, the doctrine that one’s own racial group is superior or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.”
The word surge lines up perfectly with Barr’s racist rant that started with a few tweets around 2:30 a.m. on March 29. In now-deleted tweets, the actress, alt-righter and vocal Trump-supporter went on a tirade about former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett, describing the woman in a racist and homophobic manner.
“Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj,” she wrote of Jarrett, who is black and not Muslim.
The response that followed was quick. Immediately following the tweets, Wanda Sykes, a consulting producer on the show, announced she would not return. Then, ABC cancelled Roseanne, ending the sitcom after just one season.
“Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show,” ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey said in a statement.
Barr later attributed her tweets to Ambien, to which the pharmaceutical company that makes the pill, Sanofi, snarkily responded: “While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.”
In addition to the research on its “racism” word surge, Dictionary.com added another timely, relevant nugget to the conversation: “Ambient does not mean ‘prone to making racist comments,’ but it does mean "of the surrounding area or environment.’
Merriam Webster also chimed in during the hubbub, just in case people wondered about the difference between “cancelled” and “canceled.” Spoiler: They’re interchangeable.
Dictionary.com’s brand tagline is “the world’s leading digital dictionary” and it seems many people held them to that, at least to be sure what “racist” meant.
Perhaps Barr was one of them.