Ellen’s Fall From Grace Exposes An Unkind Side To Her Success
The TV host has built an empire around the idea of people being kind to one another, but these allegations claim that DeGeneres doesn’t actually take her own advice.
Why does this Ellen narrative matter so much, and why do people care about her unravelling?
Back in July, BuzzFeed News published stories from various current and ex Ellen Show staff members who detailed their experiences of racism, fear and intimidation while working there.
They described Ellen’s ‘be kind’ mantra as a mask hiding a very toxic work culture, and it wasn’t long before people on social media started either jumping to Ellen’s defense, or coming forward with other allegations.
DeGeneres has since apologised to her team, promising that changes will be made in light of the recent claims.
But now it seems like the world is watching to see whether this might be Ellen’s fall from grace.
Libby Torres: “So I think for some people to realise that she maybe wasn’t as goofy and friendly as she appears to be on TV, I think that kind of shocked a lot of people.”
That’s Libby Torres, an entertainment reporter who’s been following the Ellen story.
LT: “A lot of us have these preconceived notions of celebrities being aloof you know – maybe nice in passing, but not someone who’s predicated their entire career on this persona of being cheerful or nice.”
YouTuber Nikkie de Jager was one of the first to call out Ellen back in March, describing her as ‘cold and distant’ when she was interviewed on the show.
But celebrities like Katy Perry and Kevin Hart have been quick to remind everyone of the good that Ellen has done over the years, as well as the hurdles she’s faced as a queer woman.
LT: “In recent years, most of the abuse allegations we’ve seen have been a bit more wide-ranging than you know, workplace toxicity, and have mostly involved white men in power. I think it’s a tough pill to swallow for some people – just having this sort of icon, this comforting figure, be brought down to a different level.”
When Ellen’s show started in 2003, she was one of the few out lesbians in Hollywood.
She famously came out to the public on her self-titled sitcom back in 1997 and then did a TIME magazine cover, which was said to help change the nature of sexuality on American daytime TV.
It was really progressive at the time, but Ellen wasn’t an instant a crowd favourite. It took time for mainstream public acceptance to catch up.
In light of the recent allegations against her, some people are arguing that it might be time for Ellen to pass on the torch, and Torres worries that will mean her being replaced by another white man.
LT: “Keeping with the original ethos of Ellen’s show – which was to give a queer woman a talk show – I think it should be definitely given to someone, who’s a woman of colour, or a queer woman of colour, or someone who’s trans.”
So, there are legitimate questions raised when the possibility of an icon who’s built her brand around the idea of being kind, might not actually be fostering an environment of kindness herself.
Ellen’s openness about her sexual identity, and what she has achieved for marginalised groups, should not be forgotten. But celebrities shouldn’t become complacent as they become successful – regardless of how pioneering they may be – because there’s never an excuse to treat others poorly.