Screenshot: Ellen DeGeneres / The Ellen Show / YouTube
Ellen DeGeneres has walked herself into a bit of controversy lately, after being caught on camera laughing away at a football game with former President of the United States, George W. Bush.
The video of the two laughing together is sketchy, and I did find it questionable, but I thought Ellen could have explained it easily enough and recovered quickly. If her explanation had just been - “Look, I was there, he was there, and I had to be polite because I didn’t really want to get into a heated political debate at a sports game,” that would have been perfectly acceptable, in my opinion.
But, her explanation turned out to be a lot more problematic.
On her talkshow, Ellen addressed the issue, saying: “People were upset, they thought ‘Why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative republican President?’” She’s right, that was my first thought.
She then went on to say, “Here’s the thing - I’m friends with George Bush. In fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have. We’re all different, and I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s okay, that we’re all different. (...) Just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean I’m not gonna be friends with them. When I say be kind to one another, I don’t mean only the people that think the same way that you do, I mean be kind to everyone.”
After this little speech went to air and was posted all over social media, the liberal Hollywood elite came out in droves in support of Ellen. Elton John was quoted as saying, “Unfortunately, what our democracy has become now is that it’s not OK to have different opinions than yours and that is not healthy.” Jamie Foxx commented on her Instagram post of the video, saying, “Thank uuu very much for that!!!! (...) Soooo needed and Necessary.” Jennifer Garner commented, “Ellen! You are amazing!” Orlando Bloom commented, “Kill em with kindness.” Kristen Bell posted her own (now deleted) Instagram post of Ellen and Bush, declaring that Ellen was her “queen.”
These were only a few drops in an ocean of the rich and famous that swelled behind Ellen’s statement. Everyone in Hollywood, from Kendall Jenner to Lenny Kravitz, seemed to be unequivocally behind Ellen’s kindness towards George W. Bush.
What all these celebrities seem to be missing, though, is the fact that George W. Bush isn’t just a conservative uncle that you have to make pleasantries with so as not to disturb a family barbecue. He was President of the United States, and not a good one.
This isn’t a simple question of being kind to everyone regardless of their political beliefs, it’s not about creating unification between the left and the right and being stronger together. This man has the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent people on his hands, and these famous democrats seem to be too rich to care.
During his presidency, in the wake of 9/11, Bush lead the United States into the Iraq War, which has since killed around 250,000 civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and around 4,200 U.S soldiers.
After the disaster of Hurricane Katrina, when people (largely black and poor people) were stranded and dying, begging for help from their government, Bush remained on a lovely 29 day holiday at his ranch in Texas. Even when he did return from his vacation to D.C, Bush would not visit the site of the catastrophe to show solidarity with the victims. 1,833 people in New Orleans were killed by Hurricane Katrina.
Maybe Ellen, a rich white woman, can make peace with all of the aforementioned deaths and injustices, and all of that complacency in the face of catastrophe. How, though, can she, as a lesbian, reconcile the fact that Bush has actively campaigned against her very existence? Against the rights that she now has, thanks to Obama’s presidency? Bush supported an amendment that would define marriage as strictly between one woman and one man. Bush was against the classification of crimes against LGBT people as hate crimes. Bush was against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would have made it illegal to fire someone because of their sexuality or gender identity.
This isn’t a question of kindness. It’s a question of spinelessness. Is it okay to be friends with a war criminal? Is it okay to be friends with a President who sat back with his feet up while his own citizens stood on the rooftops of sinking buildings, screaming for help? Just because Bush now looks favourable compared to the absolute insanity of Donald Trump, that doesn’t mean that he’s suddenly as harmless as your mildly racist granddad.
Mark Ruffalo is the only major celebrity that seems to have come out against Ellen, tweeting: “Sorry, until George W. Bush is brought to justice for the crimes of the Iraq War, (including American-lead torture, Iraqi deaths & displacement, and the deep scars—emotional & otherwise—inflicted on our military that served his folly), we can’t even begin to talk about kindness.”
Once, when my sister asked me who I thought the hottest Avenger was, I told her Mark Ruffalo, and was promptly mocked for the rest of the day.
Now, I feel vindicated. Screw uncritical kindness, let’s all be more like The Hulk.Support Villainesse