Ellen DeGeneres, is she really that sorry?

With news that the show was actually returning, we were all left wondering how Ellen herself would broach the subject on the first episode and would it be a fair and honest one?

Then a hoard of other stories emerged about Ellen DeGeneres’ supposedly not-so-friendly demeanour with multiple sources sharing experiences of workplace abuse, racism and sexual harassment while working on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. According to Warner Bros, there was an investigation and three exec producers were fired.

It was the first episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show after months and Ellen took to the stage to greet her virtual audience before addressing the MAJOR elephant in the room – aka the allegations that emerged over the summer about a toxic work environment on set.

“How was everybody’s summer? Good? Mine was GREAT!” was her first statement, a sarcastic reference to the really, really bad press she and the show received in the last six months after a viral Twitter threat by Kevin Porter, a comedian and podcast host who asked for mean stories about Ellen in exchange for donations to a local food bank, went viral.

It was a conversation she couldn’t avoid and the episode did begin with a monologue with her stating : “I learned that things happened here that never should’ve happened. I take that very seriously and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected. I know I am in a position of privilege and power and I know with that comes responsibility and I take responsibility for what happens.”

Yes, this was TV apology with all the right jargon BUT it seems a bit too well-versed, a bit too PR. She didn’t actually admit she did anything wrong, in fact, “I learned” implies she was innocent in all of it, unaware until someone told her.

Then she went on to talk about being in charge of heaps of people, “I am a boss of 270 people. Two-hundred seventy people who help make this show what it is. Two-hundred seventy people who I am so grateful for.”

The repetition, the big number, there’s a whisper of a sort of shrugging off of responsibility because how could she possibly know what all 270 people get up to all the time?

Then of course, and this is where things got worse – she started talking about the negatives of being known as kind, in the way that you’re always going to let people down when you’re not.

“Being known as the ‘be kind’ lady is a tricky position to be in. The truth is, I am that person that you see on TV. I’m 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,” she said.

The thing is that some of the stories that surfaced weren’t about Ellen having the odd bad day, cos all of us have those days. The stories seemed to be consistent in the vindictiveness of her behaviour to others like the time she tried to have a waitress fired because her nail varnish was chipped.

She added, “I’m a pretty good actress but I don’t think that I’m that good that I could come out here every day for 17 years and fool you. This is me.”
The monologue has been met with mixed reactions from fans – with some saying it missed the mark and others finding it genuine. Some of the show’s former employees slammed it as making fun of the abuse they experienced.

One former employee told Buzzfeed News, “Not only did Ellen turn my trauma, turn our traumas, into a joke, she somehow managed to make this about her.”

Another current employee said the apology was “tactical” and said that it was probably to win back viewers for figure ratings.
“It’s always tactical. The average person will listen to it and make their own choices, but what people don’t always take into account is that information is power, and she’s sharing it now because it’s for premiere week and it’s to get viewers back, and that just feels the opposite of what this message is about.”

On Twitter, one user wrote, “Didn’t sound like a sincere apology to me. Didn’t outline the specific behavior she was apologizing for and justified it by saying it wasn’t intentional. All things you aren’t supposed to do when you apologize.”

While another wrote, “She needs to address HER actual actions. Not generalize it, insinuating that it was a result of multiple toxic people on her staff. It was a result of HER toxic actions. I do believe she can fool us all every day – she did it just now.”

For some though, her apology was heartfelt.

“Being the kindness lady make you a target! I have been a employer for over 30yrs and always treated people how I wanted to be treated. But some people see kindness as weakness and do anything and everything to take advantage of you. Stay Strong!”

Another said, “She’s been doing this for ages. I’d like to see people go through 17years of not being rude to another person, not being impatient/short with coworkers, not getting sad or mad and taking that to work. She’s human. Y’all need to chill. She got rid of those producers.”

Whether you think it was an honest apology or not, Ellen’s powerful address certainly got a reaction.

Let’s just hope she’s not a better actress than she makes out.

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