His signature “Be kind to each other” seemed totally in character. In her opening monologue in September, she explained that she was inspired to use the phrase after learning from 18-year-old college student Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide in 2010 by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. in New York, after being labeled as gay on the Internet – a tragedy close to her heart. “ I thought the world needed more kindness and it was a reminder that we all needed it. But for any celebrity, talking about kindness is tantamount to inviting people to present evidence to the contrary. As early as 2007, after DeGeneres crossed a Writers’ Guild picket line to record her show, she continued to tell her audience, “ I support [my writers] and I hope they get whatever they ask for, ” on a blog called Surgical Strikes, a person claiming to be a former writer on the show wrote about how she actually treated writers’ like s- ”, berating them for continually writing ‘not funny jokes’. And the stories started to multiply – about DeGeneres being cold, aloof, rude to waiter staff in restaurants, basically not as nice as she looked or wanted to be seen.
In 2018, Netflix aired a 70-minute comedy special, Relatable, which began with DeGeneres recounting how a friend, said she planned to return to stand-up, pointed out how her life had evolved. of its audience. “I know, but I still think I can relate to myself,” DeGeneres said. “Anyway, just then two of my butlers walked into the library and announced that my breakfast was ready…” – continuing to joke about her beautiful house, black Amex card and multiple rewards. The routine had a pizzazz rarely seen on its chat show and a lingering crudeness of having been first applauded, then ostracized, for coming out, along with a sly bashing of other celebrities (no names …) who didn’t. hadn’t followed her example, and being the “nice lady” had its downsides. “I will never be able to do anything bad again. But I am a human being. I have bad days … ‘
As a prelude to the Netflix special, the New York Times released a major profile of DeGeneres under the headline, “ Ellen DeGeneres Isn’t As Nice As You Think ”, in which interviewer Jason Zinoman, brought up the subject of recycling tabloid stories with anonymous complaints that she wasn’t always kind to those she worked with. “It bothers me if someone says this because it’s an outright lie,” she replied. ‘First day [on the show] I said, “The only thing I want is everyone here to be happy and proud of where they work, and if not, don’t work here.” No one is going to raise their voice or not be grateful. “This is the rule to this day.
But that did nothing to stop the flow of criticism. In March of this year, a comedian, Kevin t porter, launched a Twitter campaign asking her followers “ the craziest stories you’ve heard about Ellen [DeGeneres] be mean ”and promise to pledge $ 2 to a local food bank for every credible account. He ended up donating $ 600. The following month, as America went into lockdown, members of her show’s union team complained that there had been no communication regarding hours or pay during quarantine and that DeGeneres had hired non-union technicians to set up a remote show from his home in Santa Barbara. .
American daytime television is a dog fight and derogatory stories have started to affect ratings. In June, it was reported that DeGeneres’ show had fallen 14 percent to a new low season. Then came the BuzzFeed revelations.
“ I think Ellen DeGeneres is going to go through a turmoil in her head because she’s really getting it from two kegs, ” says Mark Borkowski, a leading media and reputation management consultant who works in the industry. entertainment world for over 30 years. “ When a celebrity is in a bubble and given permission to be who they are, the ego is fed and bad habits and bad attitudes grow and grow. But we are now living in a time of authenticity; you can’t move forward and project the values if you don’t reflect those values because social media is there to send stories to Twitter. Everyone is a journalist and can show the world what these people really look like.
Few people know more about Hollywood misconduct and its consequences than gossip columnist Perez Hilton. He likens the fury around DeGeneres to a “speed bump in the road” that “will slow it down but not crash the car”. But what it signals, he says, is the start of a renewed, post-Me Too assessment of how celebrities should behave in the workplace. He says another great daytime TV host and leading figure on the talent show, whom ‘everyone knows’ has been doing badly treating staff for years – suggesting that it is their turn. “It’s now a trend. Only good comes from this.
But is this justified or the starting weapon for a witch hunt? The world of television – much like that of newspapers – has always been a world of high pressure and anger. People are screaming, screaming, making unreasonable demands. The allegations made against the producers of DeGeneres’ talk show are clearly blatant. But do other complaints say more about the complainants than the workplace? A former employee said that employees who displayed “ nicer ” personality traits, who were willing to work more than 10 hours a day, and who “ actively ignore ” how top managers and producers level treated others, were rewarded with new iPhones, gift cards and other promotional items from the show’s sponsors. “ Everyone was upset unless you were one of the favored ones, ” the former employee said. “I remember feeling depressed and horrible and sad and thinking that I couldn’t leave but wanted to leave. “Television is still an old white culture,” says a prominent unnamed Los Angeles show business lawyer who has litigated a number of Me Too and workplace-related cases. “This culture is not yet extinct, but it is coming to an end. People are being called out for bad things, which is good. But it has also created a dangerous cancellation culture where you have younger people with no life experience at all, who can’t stand the heat in the workplace, and who can just point fingers and kill people’s careers. .
Hilton disagrees: “I fully understand that many careers in entertainment are extremely stressful and in high demand. You should work hard, that’s the culture. But it also has to be a professional environment, which means that a boss, someone in a position of power, should not ask you to date or propose you, or even yell at you. If someone is lazy and doesn’t want to work the hours, fire them. But you don’t need to yell at them, dehumanize them, or insult them. We need to stop excusing unprofessional behavior.
Perhaps the most damaging allegations against DeGeneres herself aren’t that she was “ mean, ” but that she ignored staff mistreatment and allowed her to cultivate her toxicity. flourish. “She knows that … is going on, but she doesn’t want to hear it either,” said a former BuzzFeed employee.
It was an allegation she tried to answer in her opening monologue. “I have learned that things have happened here that should never have happened,” she said. “ I take this very seriously and want to say that I am very sorry for the people who have been affected, ” adding: “ I know that I am in a position of privilege and power and I realize that ‘with that comes responsibility and I take responsibility. for what’s going on at my show.
“Right now, she’s climbing a sand dune as fast as she can while she collapses under it,” the lawyer says. “But to be contrite, to say, ‘I must be a better me’, that is not enough. If that’s your name on the show, when everything is going you have to take responsibility, you have to take the hit.
“I wish she had taken on even more responsibility,” says Hilton, “because there have been reports that she was aware to some extent, and sometimes in the room, when things were inappropriate. were happening. But she’s Ellen… why would a celebrity admit more than she has to?
The controversy hasn’t quite generated the excitement – or the odds – that one might expect. Viewing numbers for the first week of the new season are down 29% from the previous season. But Hilton doesn’t see the fall as critical. “She’s not going to get fired; she’s not going to give up either; it is registered for several seasons. Everyone involved in her show is making too much money and, at the end of the day, that’s what matters most in Hollywood.
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