The renowned comedian and talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres, has been facing a series of controversial incidents surrounding her talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Articles alleging a toxic work environment, as well as allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct by producers were a few of the things that were brought to light in the past couple of months.
Like many people, I have been watching her show on TV ever since I can remember and I would always think that the world would benefit from more people like her, people who would spread the idea of everyone being kind to one another, no matter what. I would watch how she would have fun with her employees and give out prices and money to those in need. When I learned that many employees who worked there were unhappy and that it was a toxic workplace, it felt like her whole “be kind” mantra was a facade, and some of her employees seemed to agree with me.
“That ‘be kind’ bulls – only happens when the cameras are on. It’s all for show,” said one former staffer in an interview with Buzzfeed. “I know they give money to people and help them out, but it’s for show.”
An investigation by Warner Bros. Studios has so far resulted in the ousting of three producers.
She returned to the studio for the season 18 premiere of her talk show on Monday, Sept. 21 and addressed the allegations in her opening monologue. DeGeneres apologized to anyone who had been negatively affected while working on her staff.
“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 happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously and I want to say I am so sorry to the people that were affected. I know that I am in a position of privilege and power and with that comes responsibility and I take responsibility for what happens at my show,” said DeGeneres.
In front of a live virtual audience projected on screens, she went on to say that her “be kind” persona is nothing more than that, saying that, “being known as the Be Kind lady is a tricky position to be in.”
Though she hasn’t been directly accused of the mistreatment, every part of the show operates under DeGeneres’ name and specific brand of being kind.
I would be lying if I said that my view towards the show has not changed. Of course, it’s changed. For nearly two decades, DeGeneres has been a staple of kindness and she should’ve known what was going on in her workplace, especially if her employees were unhappy with the way they were being treated.
“We have had a lot of conversations over the last few weeks about the show, the workplace and what we want for the future. We have made the necessary changes and today we are starting a new chapter,” she said during the premiere.
Even though DeGeneres isn’t personally responsible for every little aspect of how the show is run, I do believe that she should be more involved, be able to see and be aware of what’s going on in her workplace. It can’t just be telling people to “be kind” on television. It’s her responsibility to go beyond being in front of the camera and make sure that those who work for her actually like working there.