We Need to Talk About Ellen

Ellen DeGeneres is a celebrated stand-up comic, a successful actress, an Emmy-winning sitcom writer, an Emmy-hoarding daytime talk show host, an LGBT icon, an animal-rights activist, a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, and kind of a dick?

The public perception seems to be that DeGeneres is in the Jimmy Fallon camp of hosts — a goofy, fun-loving sprite whose main goal is to help everyone have a good time. But anyone who's paid even a little attention to her show in recent years can see that she's also a David Letterman — the kind of host who delights in other people's discomfort.

The most recent example comes from a hidden-camera stunt set up solely to try to catch audience members with sticky fingers. Look, it's lame to steal. Obviously! But the gotcha segment, which DeGeneres rolls out expertly by celebrating someone who did the right thing before putting the thief on blast, is crazy awkward. In front of the studio audience, the woman is scolded, shamed, and then sent to "Ellen Jail." Because BRANDING.

Earlier this spring, DeGeneres' show made headlines when Nicole Kidman and Giada De Laurentiis got shady with each other during a bizarre cooking segment — you know, the kind no A-lister ever actually has fun participating in. (Nor do the chefs; De Laurentiis actually shouts, "I hate doing these things.) As each woman took minor jabs at each other, culminating in Kidman's very memeable "it's a little tough" comment, DeGeneres was in her glory. The woman actually wiped a tear from her eye after laughing so much!

But those are minor infractions compared to her biggest crime: the surprise scare. Look, we've all laughed at someone else jumping out of their seat after a fright. (Or tumbling onto the floor, as in that gorgeous Taylor Swift fall.) But we're talking about dozens and dozens of these things going back through the show's 14 seasons.

She loves scaring staffers:

She loves scaring audience members:

And, of course, she loves scaring her guests:

But, wait. It's all in good fun, right? By now, everyone knows what they're in for, no?

Sure, maybe. And I admit, some of this stuff is legit funny. But isn't it also a little mean-spirited? Or childish? Or just weird? Especially early on when she would literally get on her knees and hide in the corner of a bathroom waiting for, oh I don't know, Julia Roberts to walk in. LIKE A PSYCHO.

And with #HANDSOME vs. the clown, I rest my case.



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Jun 30, 2017 2:22AM EDT

i like some of her jokes

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Jul 5, 2017 9:00PM EDT

I've always thought this! Her show is entertaining, but the kind of entertaining where I sit and feel slightly guilty about what I've just laughed about afterward.

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Jul 7, 2017 11:12PM EDT

I love Ellen! She is always promoting being kind to everyone, in spite of/because of everyone's differences. You can tell that she truly cares about making the world a better place. I think the jokes, pranks etc in the clips above were done in good spirit, the teasing was not mean, the awkward moments were not rude. They were just genuine moments that she reacted to as a human being. Should she have called out the thief? Probably not. Should she have stopped the comments from Gia and Nicole Kidman? It did seem like she tried to simmer it down, but it was weird. IDK about you guys, but I have laughed nervously on many occasions when people have said things that they shouldn't because I can't process everything quickly enough to properly respond, so I guess I end up giving into the shitty instinct to not rock the boat. I don't think her scare pranks are cruel whatsoever!! Nevertheless, she is human like the rest of us, so if these are her infractions then I am happy to move on.

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