Over the past couple of weeks, Ellen Degeneres, host of the TV show Ellen (her name), has been put on the defensive following a couple of reports from BuzzFeed about how working on her show is hell on earth. That Degeneres is not actually a very nice person has been well-known if rarely stated conventional wisdom in Hollywood, so a lot of the reaction to these reports has been catharsis more than it has been shock.
I don’t really have any beef with Ellen Degeneres — I do not know her personally, in part because she is a famous celeb, whereas my most stable form of income is a newsletter about funny JPEGs — though when she has intersected with my beat, it’s usually because her show is featuring cute kids who went viral. The kids, in my anecodtal recollection, are almost always white. So when reports say that her lieutenants producing the show treat underlings like crap and aren’t particularly open-minded, I can’t say I’m surprised.
What has surprised me though is the absurd way that Degeneres’s team has tried to defend her, which has consisted of getting other celebrities to post about how fun it is to be a celeb on Ellen’s show and how nice Ellen is. Diane Keaton decided that caps lock was cruise control for cool and wrote on Instagram, “I ALWAYS ENJOYED MY VISITS TO THE ELLEN SHOW. I’VE SEEN HOW THE AUDIENCE EXUDES HAPPINESS AND GRATITUDE. SHE GIVES BACK TO SO MANY INCLUDING ME.” Katy Perry and Ashton Kutcher, along with others, echoed the sentiment.
A couple of posts stand out. One of the wildest posts comes from Ellen’s wife, Portia de Rossi, who instagrammed a big blue block that read “I Stand By Ellen.” The caption, bafflingly, includes the hashtag #stopbotattacks. Conflating thorough reporting with “bots” is a neat bit of undermining. Here, de Rossi is using “bot” in the most recent sense of the word: “anything on the internet that is annoying.” I have no idea if this obfuscation was intentional. It could very well be that de Rossi does not understand how the world works anymore. And why should she? She is married to Ellen and they are very rich.
But my favorite defense comes from the Crimson Chin himself, Jay Leno.
What sticks out to me here is that charity aspect – “The Ellen I know has raised over $125 million dollars for charity” – because it will be familiar to anyone who has watched a YouTuber come under fire. Every time someone like Jake Paul kicks a puppy or PewDiePie accidentally says the Holocaust was actually kinda dope if you really think about it, their fans roll out to defend them by saying “Well, what about their charity work?”
Here’s an illustrative blog post from fraghero.com that I had the displeasure of reading:
Where does raising millions of dollars in cash for great charities measure up compared to making a few off-color jokes, that were taken very out of context, and then apologizing for it and accepting the consequences? Both of those things are aspects of the PewDiePie character. If you had a magic switch and you could rid the world of PewDiePie’s jokes, and his charitable contributions, you’d be a monster if you flipped it.
I assume you, the smart BNet reader, know that giving to charity is not a “get out of jail free” card for being a shitty person or doing a shitty thing. And yet stans love pointing to charity work as a way of inoculating their faves from cancellation.
Ellen’s handlers know this too. Do you think Jay Leno is keeping a personal tally of exactly how much money (“$125 million”) Ellen has directed to charity? Did all of these celebs started suddenly posted about how nice Ellen is out of the blue?
Probably the most revealing aspect of this whole ordeal is that, despite this campaign resembling stan action and tactics — simultaneous postings, mentioning charity — Ellen has no stans. er non-celeb fans have been unable to marshal any coordinated online defense of her. Plenty of people have liked posts in support of Ellen, but there’s no pro-Ellen hashtag trending. Nobody who is not a famous celeb is going out of their way trying to defend Ellen’s honor in the same way that, for instance, Taylor Swift’s fans would harass and dox a music critic for giving her new album an 8 out of 10. Ellen simply has a fanbase of people who watch daytime TV and are charmed by her, but aren’t willing to cape for her online.
How odd that must be, to be as well-known and well-liked as Ellen, and yet when shit hits the fan, she’s had to draft her rich friends to post canned tweets to try and astroturf widespread support. If you don’t have stans, are you even an A-list celebrity?
I had an idea forever ago to do a statistical breakdown of what types of viral stars Ellen invites onto her show, but there was no easy way to get a list of every viral thing she’s ever covered. Anyway, that’s a free idea for anyone out there who might be hoarding copies of every single episode of
Not gonna explain this one. Look it up.
Tim Buckley, part one: League of Legends
Tim Buckley, part two: Get Stickbugged
the understated “noooo” really sells this one
the new Paper Mario has a PUP reference
Wired’s cover story this month is on TikTok and the Evolution of Digital Blackface and I recommend it