Earlier this year, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres came under social media scrutiny and faced a lot of flak, when stories of how she purportedly mistreated her guests and those working for her, surfaced. DeGeneres — who is the name and face behind The Ellen DeGeneres Show, currently in its 18th season — was heavily criticised for perpetuating a ‘toxic work culture’ all these years. DeGeneres, upon returning to her studio and flagging off the new season, addressed the allegations after months.
In her opening monologue — that she addressed to a virtual audience and to the viewers watching her on their television screens — DeGeneres said: “As you may have heard, this summer there were allegations of a toxic work environment at our show. And then, there was an investigation. I learned that things happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected.”
“I know that I am in a position of privilege and power, and I realise that with that comes responsibility. And I take responsibility for what happens at my show,” she continued.
The talk show host — in her classic humorous style — suggested that she take the onus because ‘Ellen’ is a brand, and her name is everywhere — even on an underwear.
“We have had a lot of conversations over the last few weeks about the show, our workplace, and what we want for the future. We have made the necessary changes, and today, we are starting a new chapter.
Today we’re starting a new chapter. pic.twitter.com/PvpZXnXLv5
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) September 21, 2020
“There were also articles in the press and on social media that said that I am not who I appear to be on TV, because I became known as the ‘be kind’ lady,” she said, referring to her sign offs, wherein she always asks people to ‘be kind to one another’. When the allegations of toxicity came to the fore, people started to question DeGeneres’ kindness.
In her monologue, she explained she started to say that after a young gay man was forced to end his life after being relentlessly bullied. DeGeneres, who is married to former model and actor Portia de Rossi, has always campaigned for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community on her platform.
“I thought the world needed more kindness, and it was a reminder that we all needed that. And I think we need it more than ever right now.”
DeGeneres went on to explain the downside of being identified as the ‘be kind’ lady, saying that while she is indeed the person we see on screen, she is also “a lot of other things”. “Sometimes I get sad. I get mad. I get anxious. I get frustrated. I get impatient. And I am working on all of that. I am a work in progress. And I am especially working on the impatience thing because… [sigh] And it’s not going well, because it is not happening fast enough,” she said as the audience laughed.
DeGeneres concluded saying while she has been an actress, she has not been acting for the last 17 years (the duration of her show). “This is me, and my intention is to always be the best person I can be.”
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