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Celebrities sticking up for Ellen DeGeneres are seemingly undermining toxic workplace complaints

  • On Tuesday night, Ashton Kutcher lent his support to Ellen, tweeting: "I haven’t spoken with @TheEllenShow and can only speak from my own experience. She & her team have only treated me & my team w/ respect & kindness." Then he took time to respond to the ensuing backlash. Kutcher is just one of several big names who've stuck up for Ellen over the past week, including Katy Perry, Scooter Braun and Suzanne Somers. The problem with the messages of support, says Justin Kirkland is that, while nice, they are beside the point. "While well-intentioned, it suggests that someone who did something good in your immediate life couldn't be guilty of doing something bad to someone else," says Kirkland. "In an era when people are brave enough to speak out against injustice and unsafe work situations, potentially risking their reputations and sources of income, those voices are being met by a series of 'well, but' statements. And the biggest issue with it is that those 'well, buts' are strikingly without context. Perry (a regular Ellen guest) and Braun (a record executive with a bench of clients who frequent DeGeneres' show) and Somers (a wealthy celebrity herself) are almost certainly going to have a different experience with DeGeneres than a production assistant might. Not to mention, it's not about 'being mean.' These refrains from celebrities ignore the culture and the circumstances in which these anecdotes allegedly took place, and use the massive platforms of Perry and Braun and Somers to suggest to their audiences that DeGeneres should be absolved based on their firsthand experiences. Coming to the defense of the people we love is a natural reaction, but it's also one that comes with consequences. Our reputations and influences have a butterfly effect that we forget a lot of the time, even in our small, plebeian circles. To volunteer your own unprompted, warm sentiments about DeGeneres and her show, especially in the cases where celebrities are leveraging millions of followers, is to passively say that the people brave enough to come forward and fight for the job that surely pays them less than the big names on the marquee (especially amid a pandemic) should shut up. Ellen DeGeneres has blazed trails for LGBTQ people, donated to countless charities, and made you feel good in your sad spot for the past 17 years. We can be grateful for that while also holding onto our knee-jerk reactions about her. Her trailblazing, in other words, has absolutely nothing to do with what's alleged to have happened behind the scenes of her show."


    • Of course Ellen DeGeneres is going to be nice to celebrities: "The problem is a bunch of celebrities responding to these concerns by … tweeting about how Ellen was nice to them," says Rachel Leishman. "Of course she was! You were directly connected to her making money...Let’s think about this for a second: Why wouldn’t Ellen be nice to you when you have status and money and a platform you could use against her if she weren’t? If you’re a celebrity and you’re someone who could simply tweet out 'Ellen was mean to me when I went on her show,' it would start to unravel her entire game. So … of course she was nice to you, and maybe it isn’t that manipulative. Maybe Ellen is generally very nice to a lot of people, but the point of everything happening isn’t that Ellen is a monster to every single person she meets. It’s that the workplace toxicity on The Ellen DeGeneres Show needed to be addressed for the wellbeing of her employees, and it’s hardly unusual for people who do bad things to be nice otherwise—that’s how they get away with it. So, celebrities rushing out to say they were treated in a certain way by Ellen is … beside the point. The point is that her employees were allegedly mistreated. But I’m glad you like the Ellen underwear she gave your rich a**!"
    • Defenses of Ellen like those from Katy Perry and Kevin Hart just highlight how celebrities get special treatment:  "If there’s anything we’ve learned from the past few years of Hollywood abuse revelations—whether its racial discrimination, sexual harassment, or psychological abuse—it’s that famous, successful individuals are often shielded from repercussions by their power and connections within the industry," says Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, who adds: "By definition, junior employees have a very different perspective compared to celebrities who have a personal relationship with DeGeneres. So while the statements from people like Kevin Hart and Katy Perry are a very public defense of DeGeneres and her show, they’re not actually relevant to the allegations at hand. They merely highlight the way people in power often have different experiences from everyday workers."
    • Celebrities defending Ellen are making things worse with their tone-deaf statements
    • Which of Ellen DeGeneres' closest "friends" have stayed mum?: Jennifer Aniston, Justin Timberlake, Kristen Bell, Dax Shepard, Taylor Swift, Stephen “tWitch” Boss, Reese Witherspoon and Mario Lopez are among those who have yet to publicly show support for Ellen.
    • A timeline of the disintegration of Ellen DeGeneres' shiny public persona

    TOPICS: Ellen DeGeneres, NBC, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Ashton Kutcher, Katy Perry, Scooter Braun, Suzanne Somers, Daytime TV