By Gabriella Sorrentino, Sports Editor
BuzzFeed News broke a story on July 16 about the ”toxic work culture” present at The Ellen Show. The report was based on the experiences of 11 anonymous employees, one current and ten former, detailing harassment, racism and accounts of sexual misconduct from primarily executive producers and other senior managers on the show.
Former fans of the show have also described the talk show host as cold and rude both at live shows and out in public, and many of these experiences were recounted in a Twitter thread of examples of DeGeneres’ meanest behavior.
Over the summer, DeGeneres’ fans called for the comedian to respond to these allegations and to make amends for any mistreatment on her show. Thousands of others called for her removal from the show and even for her to be replaced by actress Ellen Page.
While it is important to hold public figures accountable and to believe those who come forward with allegations of abuse or harassment, it is essential that individuals are held accountable for their transgressions alone. Amidst all of this controversy, a key fact remains: DeGeneres was not implicated in any allegations of sexual misconduct, racism or harassment in the workplace.
It seems as though DeGeneres has quickly become subjected to what is known informally as “cancel culture,” or a mass loss of public support as a result of some offense. A major criticism of this concept is its implication that people are incapable of change and unworthy of the opportunity to evolve and do better.
Immediately following the release of information regarding workplace harassment on set, Warner Bros Studio and DeGeneres opened an internal investigation to determine the validity of those allegations. When some of those allegations were corroborated, staffing changes were made in response and Ed Glavin, Kevin Leman and Jonathan Norman were removed from their positions as executive producers on the show.
DeGeneres has repeatedly stated while she was unaware of the negative working conditions, she apologizes for her role in fostering this environment through her inaction.
“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 realize that with that comes responsibility, and I take responsibility for what happens at my show,” DeGeneres said during a studio showing on September 21.
DeGeneres and The Ellen Show responded to misconduct quickly with an internal investigation, removed the people in power who were directly responsible for many of the accounts of harassment and made a public commitment to do better. DeGeneres herself accepted responsibility for the actions of those on her set without attempting to shift blame onto those who brought the allegations forward or to a different party.
Despite taking every appropriate action possible to rectify the situation, DeGeneres remains vilified by the public in a way many of those in similar positions with either the same or arguably worse wrongdoings are not. For example, James Corden is widely rumored to be just as rude in person and just as separate from his “nice-guy” persona. Jimmy Kimmel has worn black-face and used the n-word in past comedy sketches. Yet, neither talk-show host has experienced the same level of vitriol and backlash from the public as Ellen has.
This cherry-picking of which celebrity to “cancel” is another example of the hypocrisy of the action. Though there are levels of allegations one can atone for, in the case of Ellen DeGeneres, she has taken every measure to rectify and accept responsibility for her own. She is being accused of callousness towards employees and fans, and a lack of awareness for the issues on the set of her show, but her actions should not be conflated with the allegations of sexual misconduct or racist behavior made against other members of her production staff.
Ellen made mistakes, as people often do, but what matters is the way she is choosing to address them, create a better environment for her staff and prevent the same issues from occurring again.