Roseanne Barr on Trump "Playing the Heel for Hillary," Pot and Being a Farmer
The trailblazing comic comes out for Trump ("we would be so lucky if he won"), against Hillary (she "got the receipt, because she paid for the Oval Office") and discusses growing nuts on her farm in Hawaii and opening Roseanne’s Joint, a marijuana dispensary in Orange County.
Roseanne Barr was fed up with the "f—ed up” two-party political system when she told her friend Michael Moore that she wanted to make a satire about herself running for president. "I told her if she was going to run she should film it,” says Moore. "The film is a brave behind-the-scenes look few people of Roseanne's stature give the public.” Barr's 2012 run — first as a Green Party candidate and later on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket — is chronicled in the new documentary Roseanne For President!
The film, which hits theaters on July 1, includes snippets of her difficult childhood and time spent in a mental institution, archival footage of her storied comedic career and outtakes of her at a rally for Cindy Sheehan (the anti-war activist whose son was killed during the Iraq War) threatening to “slap Nancy Pelosi in the face."
Barr is most famous for her breakthrough brand of working-class comedy, crystallized in her Emmy award-winning sitcom Roseanne.
The Hollywood Reporter spoke to the comic on the eve of the California primary, at her Los Angeles home, where she praised Donald Trump, denounced the election process and pined for a new, unnamed feminism.
Congratulations on Sundance acquiring Roseanne For President!
Cool. Yeah, I made some points. It’s been fun to see how running influenced the narrative of both parties. Bernie [Sanders], ‘cause I ran on socialism and debt forgiveness and all that. (I ran on peace, though. He's kind of running on war.) He took a lot of my lines and so did Donald Trump. But [it’s OK because] all of our policies need to get some light on 'em.
Do you think the election’s complete bizarreness is helping people see the process in ways they hadn't before?
Well, they always do, every election, see something even more shady. But no, the very system itself is just not talked about.
What do you think of the candidates?
Do you know anything about wrestling? It's all fixed, just like our election system. I think Hillary [Clinton] probably got the receipt, because she paid for the Oval Office. And both Trump and Bernie are playing the heel for Hillary. But now it's about political infighting and if Bernie does win in California, he'll have more weight to influence the Democratic party platform to the radical left who call themselves progressives. That's what Bernie's all about.
What about the people who believe their vote counts? From what you say in the film, it doesn't.
No, it doesn't matter at all. And if it did, they wouldn't let you do it. If [the process] were allowed to be what it was designed to be, to elect representatives of the people, it would still be a great system. But I don't think that's possible anymore. It's a failure of representatives. They're just in there taking whatever money they can get and none of them represents the public! They're gettin' paid with public money to f— the public! What matters is what's on the ballot. It's not who runs, it's who is allowed on it. I worked really hard to get on the ballot in three states; it was a miracle that I got on any. If I were president, a majority of my cabinet would be poor because that's true representational government here in America.
Changing directions here, you’ve said that you didn't want director Eric Weinrib showing too many scenes of you smoking marijuana in the documentary, yet in the second substantial scene, you're driving and smoking a joint.
I told him not to put that in but he did. We fought for two years. That's why it's late. I wanted him to concentrate more on the issues I was running on rather than the pot I was smoking. But whatever. I ran on legalization and I do use it. So what the f—? I smoke a lot of it. It's ganja, God made it, it's awesome. I was gonna smoke during the debates but they kept me out of the debates. But I’m opening a dispensary here in Santa Ana, Calif., in July, when the movie comes out.
In the film, you stop in Utah, where you’re from. That was a very interesting part of your documentary — you growing up in a Mormon community and not being Mormon. There's something very salt of the earth about Mormons.
Yeah! The Mormons are just wonderful people and they're very socialist. And when somebody doesn't have a job, they'll go over and bring 'em food and assist 'em. That's how I was raised and yeah, it did inform me. The Mormons have a different definition of socialism than people outside of Utah. Taking care of others when they're in need, that's your duty as a citizen. Also the women ran the house, the day-to-day operations of the family businesses. So I was raised like that, and when people say, ‘Oh, you sound like one of those New York liberals,’ I say, ‘I am not from New York, I am from Utah.’ I'm not a fake Ronald Reagan, I actually do ride horses, I actually do that shit. Now I do it in Hawaii, where I have a farm and grow macadamia nuts. I am a farmer and I am against [GMO crops]. We were able to drive Monsanto out of Hawaii [Editor’s note: Barr testified in a case against Monsanto banning genetically modified crops. In 2014, Monsanto sued Hawaii County over the ban.] It was cool. I did that as part of my campaign. [I did it because] people are connected and they gotta have decent food and water and air. And they should have health care. 'Cause that's why you pay your f—in' taxes,. Our taxes shouldn't be going to [politicians in bed with] mullahs building private mansions in the Middle East. Hello? What the f—?
You still tour and do live stand-up. Is your new material focused on politics?
Just how f—in' stupid people are! I can't stand it anymore. 'Cause they're not doin' any hobbies. I think that people need a minimum of five hobbies that they enjoy and that makes them stay home, concentrate, be productive, be private, enjoy their inner resources and build them and mind their own goddamn business. But now people don't have any inner resources and they look outside for something to f—in' do. They don't find nothin' 'cause they have no talents. They don't even know what talent is, obviously. They just talk shit. And now that's an art form. But that bores me.
You’ve said that Americans can have whatever we want politically — I'm paraphrasing — if we just participate in the process. And it’s true that new groups are participating more in the process, sometimes violently.
I think we would be so lucky if Trump won. Because then it wouldn't be Hillary.
What's your take on Hillary? What do you think is wrong with her?
You don't know?! Well, she hangs out with [President] Bush. Do you need more than that? She's friends with everybody that gives her any goddamned money. The fact is, you don't get to be the nominee without taking a lot of dirty money. You might be the best f—in' person on earth, but if you're hanging out with criminals who do bad things, that matters a lot. That's why I ran, because no, I don't hang out with criminals and I don't take their money and I’m not paid to help sell nuclear weapons. I like Trump because he financed his own [campaign]. That's the only way he could've gotten that nomination. Because nobody wants a president who isn't from Yale and Harvard and in the club. 'Cause it’s all about distribution. When you're in the club, you’ve got people that you sell to. That's how money changes hands, that's how business works. If you've got friends there, they scratch your back and blah, blah … But Americans don't even know that much, even though they say they do. They say they believe that people should take money out of politics and then, you know, they send their paycheck to Bernie and off he goes to hang out with the pope on a private jet on that money. The f—in' Pope, are you shittin' me?! And nobody just gives you money, they're not like, 'Here's three million, you look good, your hair is nice.' No. It's like, 'Hey, I'm giving you this money so you can pimp my products when it comes time.'
And ... what's the problem with the pope?
He owns almost every dollar in the world, that guy. So I thought you weren't supposed to make a big profit if you're in the helpin'-people business. That kind of speaks ill of you. When you got billions in profits for helping people and they're starvin' and shit, that doesn't make a lot of sense. Fact is what matters. Not what people say, not the money they take but what they do. And what Hillary does is the opposite of what she says, just like all of 'em. Where are the women's rights? She talks about women's rights, but I'm not sure that she acts in that interest.
Will Trump act in people’s interest?
To me, he's saying that the order of law matters. When a president can just pass laws all on his own, that is a little bit different than what America was supposed to be about. And Trump is saying people will have to be vetted, we'll have to have legal immigration. It's all a scam. I mean, illegal immigration. When people come here and they get a lot of benefits that our own veterans don't get. What's up with that?
Was running for president a disappointment?
Hell no! They legalized pot in Colorado. I was on the Colorado ballot. So I was really thrilled with that. I was a Green and I got the Green Party on the Hawaiian state ballot. So I feel like I accomplished a lot just for me and on behalf of the tax-paying public, which I felt I was trying to represent 'cause I'm one of them, especially farmers. And also artists and writers.
What about women? Feminism is often associated with you.
You wonder if you should even use the F word anymore. And maybe we shouldn’t. Maybe we should just let it go because a new word is needed and always in a revolution you need to update. You can't use dusty old terms that have lost their meaning and become co-opted and a canned rhetoric. It's time for a new word and it'll come 'cause it always comes when it's most needed.