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  • Jessica Taylor Yates

Reasons We Love Ellen And Hate Cancel Culture

Updated: Sep 4, 2020

The internet wants her cancelled, and I am not here for it. #istandwithellen

Source: GiPHY

The internet right now is a pretty cruel and unforgiving place. No matter what you have done your whole life, one fuck up and you're done. I'm not talking about actual crimes, or ongoing hate speech, which is obviously not okay. And everybody has their own limits. But I find this new line of 'cancel culture' really worrying. It's an extreme form of censorship masquerading as 'wokeness', and it seeks to chastise anyone whose opinions don't align with that of the status quo, branding you instantly 'right-wing' (which I personally am not) and uneducated (which I also am not) because you don't agree.

So, what is cancel culture? According to an open letter published by Harper's Magazine July issue, 153 writers and intellectuals who signed defined it as 'an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.' Basically, a person, usually in the public sphere, does or says something that is deemed offensive by a small or large amount of people. Public backlash ensues, and even if there is an apology (which now is the course), there are calls, usually through a social media bandwagon, for the person to be 'cancelled'- that is, as stated in Vox, to 'effectively end their career or revoke their cultural cachet, whether through boycotts of their work or disciplinary action from an employer.'

Writer Steven Greenhut argues that 'The result is self-censorship [and] a narrowing of the public discussion...How many of us think twice before posting a legitimate message—not because the post is offensive per se, but because of the possible repercussions...We're allowing negation by society's...most easily offended members'. Comedian Ricky Gervais has lamented that his own stand-up act and The Office probably wouldn't even get made today because of the change in societal views, which he disagrees with immensely. "You turning off your own TV isn’t censorship. You trying to get other people to turn off their TV, because you don’t like something they’re watching, that’s different' he argues, "everyone’s allowed to call you an arsehole...[but] if you don’t agree to someone’s right to say something you don’t agree with, you don’t agree with freedom of speech."

People are allowed to have different opinions. These days, simply not aligning yourself with the next big 'Cancellation' or 'Outrage' makes you abhorrent, dumb, entitled, or a hate mongerer - and this is coming from a self-described female, green voting, lefty, hippie feminist who is pro-choice, for gay rights, peace and love and believes black lives matter.

I have friends and family who vote differently to me, think differently about political situations and individuals, and whose views don't align with my own. I don't write them off into the abyss because their opinions aren't the same as mine. To be honest, the very notion of 'cancelling' someone because they simply don't agree with you is at the least, childish and somewhat arrogant in the belief that your opinion is 'correct' and at the worst, quite fascist in hate-mongering to have someone cancelled because they don't agree with you. Now, don't get me wrong - I can get in loud arguments about the state of American politics, the Middle East, corona, religion and feminism with people I still love. I suppose to me the difference is in opinion. These are not arguments about facts. There may be much stronger values that make me personally decide whether or not to hang out and have time for another person, but to me, the line is drawn at people who believe some are more worthy than others - so for example, those who are ageist, sexist, racist, bigoted, against a sexual orientation - or have committed a heinous offence. These are people who I personally could not find myself close to. But that is me.

People are also allowed to have gone through times they're not proud of, redeem, repent and move forward. That's pretty much the point of being released from jail or rehab, of apologising, and of every Hollywood redemption movie ever. News outlets like Buzzfeed will write articles with 'explosive' allegations on someone like Ellen DeGeneres, and news outlets pick stories like this up and seem hell-bent on destroying the person, even if apologies have been made and the allegations somehow minimal in the grand scheme of things and are well...just that. Allegations. People are now on trial by Keyboard Warrior and media alike, without real investigations or deliberations actually being found. And yes, you may argue that she is a media personality, and so the news is in the public interest, which I agree with somewhat. But I don't agree with the level of abuse and the one-sidedness with which the story has unfolded.

Now, before you come for me, let me stress- workplace bullying or a toxic work environment is of course, never okay. I've experienced it myself. It is utterly soul-destroying. And of course, I, like the majority of us, do not work on The Ellen Show, so I do not know what goes on. But when you read into these stories, they really have more to do with behind the scenes, and anecdotal encounters. And you know what? Say it is all, in fact, true - say Ellen can be a bit of a bitch, which is what her personal allegations come down to (as of day print, I will do my best to update if this changes). I mean...okay?

Again- being racist, sexist, demeaning or bullying is not okay, obviously, but you know what? To be a woman in her 60s, gay, and at the top of her game in Hollywood is no mean feat. You kind of need to be a bit of a power player, and hey, I'll say it, probably even a bit of an asshole to get there. We've all seen Entourage. And with that level of money, fame and power, it's different. It just is. Literally the entire world knows who you are, you're bothered just popping into the shops, so yeah, shit changes. Sometimes, you don't want people staring at you, asking for autographs, having to smile 24/7. You need to run a tight ship to keep that shit going. Just because she has built an empire on being kind and doing good things doesn't mean she can't take a day off from it like the rest of us.

Again. I am not here to say whether these allegations are true or untrue, that's not for me to decide. It isn't for any of us to decide. It is also worth asking why the media are so intent on pushing on this Ellen thing so much more than other serious actual confirmed cases against famous men. Like...I don't see Christian Bale getting cancelled for screaming and demeaning colleagues on set, despite it being recorded. Mark Wahlberg can still cruise around on talk shows despite being found guilty of racial hate crimes in the 80s and 90s, and Mike Tyson is now a comedy icon despite being convicted of rape. But Ellen must be destroyed?

Just because she has built an empire on being kind and doing good things doesn't mean she can't take a day off from it like the rest of us.

And in terms of conduct and cancellation, she did offer an apology and take responsibility for what had happened behind the scenes and allegedly without her knowledge at her workplace, which, according to Keyboard Warriors 'wasn't good enough'. I've read it, I've seen it, and I found it heartfelt:

"As someone who was judged and nearly lost everything for just being who I am, I truly understand and have deep compassion for those being looked at differently, or treated unfairly, not equal, or – worse – disregarded. To think that any one of you felt that way is awful to me" (excerpt from Ellen's apology sent to staff, WBTV, 2020).

In school, in friendships, and in real life, this should be the end of it. I don't understand this new 'kick someone while they're down' mentality, which apparently means someone like me should be cancelled if you don't agree with me.

She gets it. She does. She's upset and horrified, and it's being looked into. Like...does this make people happy now? Do people really want to see The Ellen Show and Ellen herself utterly destroyed because of this, and everything she has worked so damn hard for? She literally created a show after being cancelled herself for being gay, and she could have made it about anything - home shopping, comedy, self-indulgent interests, parody, just interviews, mean-spirited skits, another sitcom or talk show - but she chose to make it about making the world a better place. Besides Oprah, who does that? None of the other talk show or late-night hosts...

Yeah, there was a fuck up. If people are not feeling safe at work, that shit 100% needs to be addressed. So now it will. Let people investigate. Don't ruin an entire woman's legacy because of it. She has not committed a crime. She's a woman in television whose message is about kindness, who made a mistake - allegedly. The world needs to remember that people aren't perfect. We fuck up. But then you know...we acknowledge it, make it better, and move forward. People shouldn't have to live in a prison of their mistake forever. And I believe that at the heart of it, Ellen is inherently a good person. And here's just some of the reasons why, in case you needed a refresher:

  • She was the first woman to come out on national television in her sitcom, paving the way for marginalised LGBTQIA people despite it nearly destroying her career

  • Her motto in life is to simply 'Be kind', which she has done through countless charitable partnerships, commitment to the vegan lifestyle, creation of a platform to create change and fame for people, and ongoing campaigns to spread kindness and philanthropy throughout the world

  • She launched a $5 million dollar fundraiser on her show to support people and animals during the Australian bush fires

  • She donated $1 million dollars to assist victims of Hurricane Harvey

  • She can speak whale! And got us to learn to as well in her character filled with heart, Dory, from Finding Nemo and Finding Dory

  • Throughout her course on her TV show Ellen, she and her partners have donated over $50 million dollars to various charities and individuals in need

  • She is a partner of the Small Change Campaign, which benefits Feeding America, a US hunger-relief organisation

  • She runs The Ellen Fund, which 'supports global conservation efforts for endangered species', with an immediate focus on mountain gorillas

  • She donated over $14K in gift cards to members of the Redlands Fire Team who fought the 2018 California bush fires

  • She donated over $1 million to corona-virus efforts

  • She donated over 200,000 meals to animal shelters

  • She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the USA's highest honour

Her values: "If you don’t know me very well — if you’re just watching maybe for the first time, or you’re just getting to know me — I want to be clear, and here are the values that I stand for. I stand for honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated, and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values. That’s what I stand for."

And now it's time to return the favour. #Istandwithellen.


As fired up as us about Cancel Culture? We let rip on ep 23 of the podcast, out every Tuesday here.


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