In Response To Public Backlash, Ellen DeGeneres Plays The Victim

The Ellen DeGeneres Show is coming to an end, after 19 seasons, following a Buzzfeed exposé in 2020 where employees revealed that all was not well behind-the-scenes of the popular talk show. 

Employees detailed instances of racism, rampant sexual misconduct, and workers being fired after taking medical leave, or taking time off to attend family funerals. Meanwhile, Ellen “Be Kind” DeGeneres was not only accused of fostering a toxic work environment, but acting like a tyrant on set, and talking down to employees.

Comedian Kevin T. Porter called DeGeneres “notoriously one of the meanest people alive” in a Twitter thread that quickly went viral, with numerous commentators detailing alleged instances of DeGeneres’ bullying, which has, apparently, long been an open secret in Hollywood. 

The backlash against DeGeneres is indicative of a broader trend, as entertainment industry workers feel emboldened to speak out against rampant abuses of power. 

After announcing the show’s final season, DeGeneres appeared on Today to discuss why she decided to end Ellen, denying that it had anything to do with the allegations. 

In fact, DeGeneres chose to play the victim, implying that the negative press cycle was “misogynistic,” and even compared the public backlash to her first “cancellation,” back in 1997, when DeGeneres boldly came out as a lesbian and almost lost her career, due to the widespread anti-LGBT bigotry of the 90s. 

“My therapist is like, very few people go through such huge public humiliation twice in a lifetime,” DeGeneres said. “How can I be an example of strength and perseverance and power if I give up and run away? So it really is one of the reasons I came back.”

The comparison, however, is deeply cynical – there is a difference between being condemned for one’s sexuality, and being criticized for fostering a toxic work environment. Comparing the two is, arguably, an attempt to weaponize the rhetoric of social justice. 

Cancel culture is often painted as a modern, social media-fueled phenomenon, but in reality, celebrities have been suffering career setbacks and public backlashes over innocuous reasons for decades; Laura Dern was blacklisted after playing DeGeneres’ love interest in 1997, the Dixie Chicks were blacklisted (and even received death threats) after speaking out against the Iraq War, and Sinéad O’Connor suffered an intense public backlash after condemning child sex abuse in the Catholic Church during her SNL performance – she was never invited back to the show.

Few would argue that the reveal of the toxic environment of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and the subsequent public backlash, is an example of cancel culture run amok.  

DeGeneres went on to claim that she was completely unaware of what was going on behind-the-scenes of her show, stating:

“… all I’ve ever heard from every guest that comes on the show is what a happy atmosphere this is and what a happy place this is.”

DeGeneres is, likely, telling the truth; it’s hardly surprising that pampered celebrity guests enjoyed their time on the show. Although, even some celebrities seemed uncomfortable in the presence of DeGeneres – who could forget the awkward interview with Dakota Johnson, or Mariah Carey’s forced pregnancy reveal

Funnily enough, DeGeneres didn’t mention the perspective of her employees – it’s unclear if she ever felt the need to ask.

Source: Dani Di Placido


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