Some Social Media Users Slam Ellen DeGeneres for Friendly Video with Former President George W. Bush

Ellen DeGeneres and former President Bush, appearing at the Cowboys-Packers game on October 6. / Image via Twitter (NBC TODAY, screen capture)

On Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys lost their game against the Green Bay Packers, 34-24. But one Packers fan, famed comedian and talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres, didn’t get to enjoy the win without controversy. 

Ellen and “Friend,” G.W. Bush

DeGeneres took in the game from a luxury skybox with her wife, Portia de Rossi, and a number of other famous faces. Among them was former Texas Governor and U.S. President George W. Bush.

The two were photographed and captured on video sharing laughs during the game – stirring considerable debate on social media, to put it mildly.

As Entertainment Weekly reported this morning, DeGeneres was prompted into

defending herself after catching some flak over the weekend for chumming it up with former President George W. Bush at the Dallas Cowboys game.

After photos surfaced of her laughing with Bush in Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones’s box, many on social media wondered why DeGeneres, a liberal gay woman, would be friendly with a former president whose record includes calling for a constitutional ban on gay marriage and the Iraq War.

Yesterday, DeGeneres addressed criticisms on her titular show. “Here’s the thing: I’m friends with George Bush,” she explained, using the controversy to push for openness across social and political divides: 

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 we’ve forgotten that that’s OK that we’re all different. 

You can see the entire segment, which DeGeneres shared via Twitter, below.

DeGeneres also linked her pushback to the broadest themes of bothThe Ellen DeGeneres Show and the through-line of her work as a whole. “When I say be kind to one another, I don’t mean only the people that think the same way that you do,” she concluded. “I mean be kind to everyone.”

Is Ellen’s Rebuttal Enough in 2019?

For Out‘s Rose Dommu, the unequivocal answer was “no.” 

As one of America’s most visible (and powerful) queer celebrities, Ellen pal’ing around with those who have actively tried to harm us feels disappointing, irresponsible, and dangerous. This was more than just rubbing elbows, as there will certainly be moments where she’s in the same room as more than a few deplorables, but this was more than that.

Dommu cited Ellen’s pseudo-defense of Kevin Hart, who famously caught ire for a long history of egregiously homophobic comments—prompting his at-best weak apology—as further illustration of DeGeneres excusing powerful, anti-gay figures on grounds of civility.

Others offered praise for Ellen, from media, politics, entertainment and beyond.

 

At minimum, these controversies illustrate a central challenge facing DeGeneres and her show in 2019: How to balance generic positivity and mantras of “kindness” while the White House and conservative politicians veer ever further into viciousness on numerous issues, including anti-gay policies galore.

It’s also reflective of real, concrete worries. After all, the Supreme Court began holding oral arguments just this morning for cases that will decide whether anti-discrimination laws encompass LGBTQ Americans

The extent to which DeGeneres and other famously out LGBTQ celebrities can or ought to embrace those who’ve just as famously (and aggressively) opposed LGBTQ rights is an open question – one which won’t be going away anytime soon, it seems.


What do you think? Let us know in the comments below. 

(Sources: EW, Rolling Stone, Out

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