4.2
May 18, 2021

No, Ellen wasn’t canceled because she was no longer “relatable.”

Yes, Ellen had lost 1,000,000 viewers over the last year on her remarkably popular and long-running daytime TV show.

Yes, her no-longer-endless show deserves endless plaudits—for replacing stiff-white-men daytime trash with dancing (one of my favorite moments right there), uplift, self-awareness, caring about everyday heroines and heroes, do-goodery (“nearly $70 million in charitable donations and more than $300 million in audience giveaways”), and pushing kindness instead of pow-pow violence and sexytime laciviousness.

But no, her show wasn’t ended because she was no longer popular, or relatable. To wit:

“But as her own fame and fortune grew, and stories emerged about her less friendly reputation behind the scenes, Ms. DeGeneres’s relatability began to look like a performance.”

Her show, and Ellen herself, were canceled, truly, because Twitter culture loves feasting on the popular, on the seemingly self-elevated, on the successful, and tearing them down, like a pack of cannibals.

“And with the talk show, all I cared about was spreading kindness and compassion, and everything I stand for was being attacked. So, it destroyed me, honestly. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t. And it makes me really sad that there’s so much joy out there from negativity. It’s a culture now where there are just mean people, and it’s so foreign to me that people get joy out of that…

…this culture we’re living is [is one where] no one can make mistakes. And I don’t want to generalize because there are some bad people out there and those people shouldn’t work again, but in general, the culture today is one where you can’t learn and grow, which is, as human beings, what we’re here to do.

…it’s a lot to live up to. I started saying “be kind to one another” because I really believe people should be kind to one another and so it was easy clickbait to say, “Oh, the be kind lady isn’t so kind.” I am kind. I’m also a woman and I’m a boss.”

Yes, her show was canceled because some on her staff had very real toxic habits—among them bullying, sexism.

But yes: she canceled those staff, who must have been like “family,” and we all know that our own families (no quotes) can be toxic. Do you cancel your pa for embracing Trump and anti-caring-about-other-covid conspiracy theories? I know you want to…but you didn’t. Ellen did.

Every show has its run. Like Reggie Ray in the Buddhist community, she’s moved on to other things after suffering the slings and arrows of outraged social media culture. Is the hell every public figure seems to get worth it? At a certain point…no.

Was her likeability unlikeable? Sometimes, sure, who cares. Was her relatability missing, now that she was so famous and rich? I say no: she always called herself on her own “relatability” (her entire, popular Netflix special is based on making fun of the notion). Like any good comic, she cut her own flame, as Buddhists say.

So, yeah. Maybe Ellen moved on because of why she said she moved on. She’s had a great run. 19 years. She had other projects (Fox’s The Masked Dancer, NBC’s Ellen’s Game of Games and HBO Max’s Ellen’s Next Great Designer…her Ellen Digital Ventures, too, which is responsible for more than 60 original series, including digital hit Momsplaining With Kristen Bell…[she’s] also producing natural history specials and documentaries for Discovery and returned to stand-up with a celebrated Netflix special in 2018).

“I just feel like there’s something more I could be doing. I care about the environment. I care about animals. I care about design and furniture…I’m opening up my campus in Rwanda next year, and I want to be more involved with conservation and everything that matters to me as far as the environment and animals.”

The grind, year after year, (even at $84 million bucks) wasn’t so fun, anymore. She’d done her part.

I hope we’re so lucky as to have a ground-breaking, reality-improving, equity-realizing, truly kind and uplifting (yet wildly imperfect) successor to her, and Oprah’s, thrones.

‘Cause sometimes you don’t know what you have, ’til it’s gone.

Be kind.

“When I came out [in 1997] and was so publicly attacked during that time, it also really destroyed me, but then I got stronger and I learned and grew from it. But people always say you have to have thick skin to be in this business and I’ve never gotten that. I have very thin skin and things affect me, and I’m proud of that. Like, I love that I’m emotional and I still care what people think and say about me, to a degree. At the same time, you have to learn from it, too.”

 

Bonus:

Still one of my all-time favorite Ellen moments, ever.

 

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