A Day at Ellen’s
“How do Olympian’s stay cool? They sit next to their fans.”
The Olympics may be over, but if you follow Ellen DeGeneres on Twitter or have seen The Ellen DeGeneres Show on TV, you might recognize one of her classic jokes. I was lucky enough to make it into a taping of The Ellen Show last Wednesday. (Acquiring tickets for a live taping of Ellen’s show is a difficult task, her show is so popular.) It was a ton of fun, and yes, there was dancing involved. She’s just as cool as you think. (Also, Portia de Rossi was there too.)
As these things often work out, there’s been a lot of Ellen on the radar recently, with an excellent article from Autostraddle, “A Tale of Two Ellens” and Ellen hosting the Academy Awards this weekend. I also recently read an essay about Ellen with the obnoxiously long title, “Resisting, Reiterating and Dancing Through: The Swinging Closet Doors of Ellen DeGeneres’s Televised Personalities” by Candace Moore.
The general point of Moore’s essay is to tackle critics of Ellen who assert she does a disservice to lesbian visibility by not bringing the subject up more on her show, or the way she sidesteps talking about it directly when it is brought up. Critics claim Ellen has simply gone right back in the closet. Moore disagrees. Though Ellen generally avoids directly addressing her sexual orientation, she expresses it in her own way.
“Ellen performs her queerness through her daily dances—illustrating both her control over what is expressed and her pleasure in expressing it. Here Ellen presents her queerness, individuality, difference, otherness, in an expressive act that broadcasts her self-love, and as a part of a daily ritual that is ultimately not all about her. Her daily dance also becomes a boundary-crossing ritual shared with all, where she encourages others (her studio audience and viewers at home) to join her.”
I told my grandmother that I had gone to the taping, and when the show was going to air on TV. She sent me an email the next day, explaining she missed the first half of the show because of the Olympics, but caught the rest. She then went on to talk about the parts of the show she enjoyed, and concluded by saying she was going to watch Ellen’s show more regularly because it was funny.
So here is a member of my family and a member of a generation that typically doesn’t accept the LGBT community. I don’t know that my grandmother knows she knows a lesbian, and I have never heard her talk about her thoughts about the LGBT community. In other words, I have no idea if that’s an accepting place or not.
Regardless, this moment felt like that “boundary-crossing” Moore talks about, Ellen waltzing right into the homes of people who may turn off an Ellen who felt it necessary to continually talk about her sexual orientation. Ellen’s personal decision to express her sexual orientation in an understated way probably demonstrates a bigger goal: to be accepted for who you are, period. Judging by the success of her show, it seems she’s onto something.
Here’s another one for you: “What did the llama say when he got kicked off the farm? Alpaca my bags.”