Opinions & Features Workshop (Oct 26th)

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Ellen DeGeneres: A victim of cancel culture or a toxic host?

By Sebastian Vasquez Gutierrez, July 7, 2021—

On May 12, Ellen DeGeneres announced that season 19 would be her show’s last one. Although her reason for the show’s ending wasn’t very clear, she mentioned that she wanted to do other things in the industry and that the show “wasn’t a challenge anymore.” DeGeneres claimed that the show was already going to end after season 19 even before the allegations were made and it was a topic that she had struggled with a lot since Season 16 because of the United States’ situation with the elections in 2018. 

The Ellen Show debuted on Sept. 8, 2003. Its concept for its 18 seasons so far has been a combination of comedy and inspirational stories. During its 18 seasons, many different celebrities have appeared on the show, some of them on multiple occasions. The show grew in popularity quickly in its first season and continued to grow rapidly as the show evolved. As of 2021, the show has won 61 Daytime Emmy awards and has raised thousands of dollars for many different causes, including giving money to families who struggle financially or people in need in general, which has created a good reputation for DeGeneres and her show. Even former President Barack Obama awarded her with the freedom award for all the charity work and fighting for equality she has done throughout the years.

The show used to have one of the highest averages in ratings of any talk show out there. After allegations of a Degeneres creating a toxic work environment, among other claims came out, the show lost more than a million viewers, and the network itself lost more than 25 million dollars

The allegations started with a thread of tweets made by Kevin T. Porter, where he slammed DeGeneres with many different accusations, including her being a completely different person than she is on camera and how badly she treated her staff. These tweets gained more than 70,000 thousand likes. Many people started sharing their experiences with DeGeneres, especially about how horrible she and the producers treated them. The allegations followed when COVID-19 hit a peak in the United States. Buzzfeed later released two articles with ex-staff members about their time working for the show — they all decided to remain anonymous. Still, all of their experiences show a very toxic work environment and mistreatment by producers and DeGeneres. 

Even before the allegations started, DeGeneres started getting into some controversy. It started when Dakota Johnson appeared on the show and DeGeneres made a lot of comments that made the audience very uncomfortable. Johnson answered DeGeneres’ questions, but the interview went viral and started conversations about how the show has changed and how distracted DeGeneres seemed compared to previous seasons.

One person who was very outspoken about her experience was Hedda Muskat — she worked as a producer on the first season. She described DeGeneres as “toxic, phony, hypocrite” and a “liar,” and mentioned how “we all walked on eggshells all the time,” while working on the show. Muskat also mentions how former producer Ed Glavin would yell at crew members and DeGeneres would encourage him and, on some occasions, laugh with him. 

DeGeneres announced to her staff in a letter how things were “going to change.” Two weeks after that, she made a public announcement saying that she was unaware of alleged events on set and behind the scenes and felt sorry for everyone affected. DeGeneres immediately mentioned that she was the victim of this situation since people liked to see celebrities and important people fall. When it came down to the allegations about her especially, she said that the phrase “be kind to one another” started when DeGeneres became aware of a story of a young kid being bullied in school and how the world needed more kindness.

The response at first was very negative, as the first video of season 18 had more than 96,000 thousand dislikes with tons of negative comments on how it took more than 18 years for these allegations to come out. As we saw with Muskat, it did not start recently but from the show’s very beginning. Even though the show did lose many ratings, the network is still worth millions and many people still watch the show. DeGeneres claims that all the allegations seem to be “very coordinated and also misogynistic,” in an interview Degeneres had with Oprah Winfrey. Many commentators mention how she is playing the victim card, while trying to cover all the bad things she did and how she treated her crew. 

Degeneres has been very outspoken when it comes to injustices and equality worldwide. She has also said how good of a clickbait title would be if the “be kind” lady wasn’t as kind, and as we saw, the story became viral. However, it does not give any sort of permission to treat people as badly as people accuse her to be. It seems, then, that she is not a victim of cancel culture. 

Although DeGeneres makes some points on how the whole event was very calculated, it seems that she is trying to use every bit of information to save herself from all the allegations. She has not really mentioned or talked about herself and just mentioned how the workplace environment was toxic and she was unaware. However, the different people coming out against DeGeneres completely negates all the claims she has made about the negative workplace. It seems that her loyal fanbase is still with her despite the fact that her ratings did drop — she still has a really big network to work for one more season. We will have to wait and see how the public responds during season 19 and what comes after for DeGeneres.

This article is part of our Opinions section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet’s editorial board.


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