Nice Is Different Than Good
October 12, 2019 10:19 AM   Subscribe

“The fact that DeGeneres is so eager to make the case that her fancy friends can be ideologically different from her reminds me of a quote credited to Italian communist Antonio Gramsci that goes, “The historical unity of the ruling class is realized in the state.” Ellen DeGeneres’s George W. Bush Debacle Is a Lesson in the Drawbacks of Assimilation Politics (Teen Vogue) “No sooner did Shimunov’s video hit the internet on Tuesday afternoon than mass takedown notices began to appear, with claims of copyright infringement. And as history has proven time and time again, the more that somebody litigiously tries to prevent some devastating video from being seen, the more interest anyone has in it.” This remix of Ellen’s pathetic defense of George W. Bush is devastating (Fast Company)
posted by The Whelk (129 comments total) 73 users marked this as a favorite
 
The fundamental truth is that Ellen is a racist. If George Bush shared responsibility for the deaths of a half a million white people he would be shunned. But because they were brown and he did it with a smile, all is good.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:37 AM on October 12, 2019 [49 favorites]


Teen Vogue is fucking killing it these days....
posted by lalochezia at 10:41 AM on October 12, 2019 [102 favorites]


Nobody Should Be Friends With George W. Bush
There’s almost no point to rebutting anything that Chris Cillizza writes. Whatever he says is inevitably dumb and wrong, and then I get angry while I think about how much money he gets to be dumb and wrong on a professional basis. But on this occasion, I’ll make an exception. The notion that DeGeneres’s friendship with Bush is antithetical to Trumpism fundamentally misconstrues the force that makes Trump possible. Trump isn’t a simple playground bully, he’s the president. Americans grant our commanders-in-chief extraordinary deference once they leave office. They become celebrities, members of an apolitical royal class. This tendency to separate former presidents from the actions of their office, as if they were merely actors in a stage play, or retired athletes from a rival team, contributes to the atmosphere of impunity that enabled Trump. If Trump’s critics want to make sure that his cruelties are sins the public and political class alike never tolerate again, our reflexive reverence for the presidency has to die.

DeGeneres isn’t a role model for civility. Her friendship with Bush simply embodies the grossest form of class solidarity. From a lofty enough vantage point, perhaps Bush’s misdeeds really look like minor partisan differences. Perhaps Iraq seems very far away, and so do the poor of New Orleans, when the stage of your show is the closest you get to anyone without power.
Ellen DeGeneres Welcomes a Former President to Her Celebrity Friend Circle
DeGeneres makes famous friends for a living. The Ellen DeGeneres Show largely depends on DeGeneres’s ability to be a fast ally to celebrities who will sit, and maybe even dance, on her Burbank set. She’s defended her friends, as once-and-future guests, from Twitter mobs before. She defended Kanye West against criticism about his support for Trump. She defended Kevin Hart after he withdrew from hosting the Academy Awards amid criticism about anti-LGBTQ remarks he made on Twitter. [...]

Bush may well be one softball interview away from hagiography. His critics fear the prospect of DeGeneres or Michelle Obama playing even the smallest conceivable role in repairing his legacy. They understand how frivolous the mass media can be in assessing politicians, especially as postpartisan nostalgia overwhelms the old malaise. But pundits afford so many celebrity entertainers like DeGeneres massive political credibility despite how detached they seem to be from the issues. DeGeneres isn’t a journalist. She’s a comedian. Arguing about Bush’s conduct during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is wasted on a daytime TV talk show host.

In fairness, these arguments have been wasted in more appropriate settings. Hence the urge to shame a gay, progressive TV talk show host, if no one else—no one who actually served in the Bush administration—for her frivolous association with a former president. The Bush-DeGeneres friendship is an alliance among two wealthy, famous people. Even the most demoralizing president can count on happy assistance from TV producers and celebrity-whisperers, who above all seek friendship with elites.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:43 AM on October 12, 2019 [52 favorites]




The lack of nailing the Bush administration for their multiple crimes is one of the fundamental mistakes of the Obama administration. W's rehabilitation into "Gosh, he's now just a simple painter" is particularly disgusting.

It's like putting Sean Spicer on TV again in any capacity, and yet people keep doing it.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:45 AM on October 12, 2019 [84 favorites]


Considering how George W. Bush used homophobia to win the 2004 election, I don't think Ellen would have cared if he had killed half a million white people, either. Maybe a little bit more, but they could go back and rehabilitate that, too. He's the reason why the 1994 assault weapons ban expired - how many mass shootings right here in America could that have prevented?

I'll hear nice well-meaning white liberals try to prop him up from time to time, and I just don't understand it. No, he was horrible, and peddled in hate and violence for power and money.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:53 AM on October 12, 2019 [45 favorites]


since this whole thing started i've seen literally dozens of people on twitter come out and say that it's an open secret in hollywood that ellen is one of the absolute worst people to work for in the entire industry. i'm not even sure she's "nice," she just pretends to be nice on TV.
posted by JimBennett at 10:58 AM on October 12, 2019 [33 favorites]


I've been torn about this thing. A conservative family member posted the video to Facebook and it made me so angry. But then gay people I know and love also responded positively to the video. I'm gay myself and still cherish the idea of "can't we all just get along?" even as I recognize that the only way that happens is if we start with some truth and some restorative justice. You can't get along with unrepentant awful people. People who don't even recognize their mistakes and crimes.

I'd love to know more about what Ellen really thinks; I think she's smarter than this. But there she is, chumming up with a war criminal who actively worked to deny her civil rights. She doesn't need to do this, so why do it? Maybe she does need to do it, to build her centrist celebrity-hungry audience.

The last paragraph of the linked Teen Vogue article is fantastic.
We all have to draw our own lines between assimilation and liberation and make uncomfortable choices. DeGeneres and Bush provide a model for a danger of assimilation: You can make it to the fancy party, but the other guests may all be monsters. As the Supreme Court considers the question of LGBTQ rights in employment with two conservatives appointed by Bush (John Roberts and Samuel Alito) and another who worked in his White House (Brett Kavanaugh, who Bush defended against sexual assault allegations during his confirmation process) seemingly set to oppose expanding civil rights, I ask: Are we better off shouting from outside the fancy parties or laughing with the powerful people inside?
posted by Nelson at 10:58 AM on October 12, 2019 [52 favorites]


Best line from the Deadspin piece peedro linked above:

“The rich person is correct, as rich people always are, or else they wouldn’t be rich.”
posted by Robin Kestrel at 10:59 AM on October 12, 2019 [40 favorites]


"I reflexively try to get along with people, especially when I'm supposed to spend hours with them, because I am not good at confrontation."
That might not be inspiring, but at least it would be honest and relatable. Ellen didn't say that.
Bush had people tortured. For years.
I can imagine why someone--even someone with power and privilege--might hesitate before getting in someone's face, or just giving them a cold shoulder, or walking out. Bush is way over that line for me, but I get it. She's not claiming that, though. What's gross is Ellen trying to turn this into a PR win.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:01 AM on October 12, 2019 [33 favorites]


I'm glad so many people are pushing back against Ellen's "Be kind to everyone" schtick as it applies to her friendship with George W Bush, because I really don't want the biggest talk show host in 2030 (or 2034) to go on their talk show and defend their friendship with Trump while tut-tutting Americans who understand full well that "Be kind to everyone" doesn't have to mean the same thing as "Be good friends with folks who have done things that have harmed and killed many people".
posted by 23skidoo at 11:07 AM on October 12, 2019 [41 favorites]


I mean, I'm ok with being kind to everyone. Its good advice. But how kind is it to create a world where those who kill millions face no negative consequences?

I'm not asking people to call Bush names and spit in his face, I'm asking him to be imprisoned.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:10 AM on October 12, 2019 [120 favorites]


Let's not forget his appearance on her show 2 years ago to hawk his "paintings and stories of valorous veterans" book. He enters doing some surfing dance

Ellen's job is to move product, whether that product is PR damage control or NYT-listed memoirs.
posted by JauntyFedora at 11:13 AM on October 12, 2019 [28 favorites]


The revolution will not be televised on Ellen
There will be no dance party with audience participation
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:15 AM on October 12, 2019 [23 favorites]


There were some moments in her apology (and in her horrible special "Relatable") where you can see Ellen's real face as if she doesn't think anyone is paying attention but I saw it.
posted by bleep at 11:15 AM on October 12, 2019 [11 favorites]


The revolution will not be televised on Ellen

Right on, comrade.

There will be no dance party with audience participation

NOW JUST HOLD THE FUCK ON
posted by sugar and confetti at 11:17 AM on October 12, 2019 [58 favorites]


Imagine if the workers had a shred of the class solidarity of rich sociopaths.
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:20 AM on October 12, 2019 [116 favorites]


But I think that the big point isn't Ellen - it's the Whelk's point about class solidarity. Rich people hang together (or they'll all hang separately, lol). This is both because they recognize their class interests and because, as you get further into a rarified, isolated existence far from the lifeways of regular people, your thinking changes. Neither Ellen nor George Bush ever, ever have to think about whether they'll afford something. Probably neither of them ever goes to the grocery store. They don't spend time in public among average people. They don't have average experiences. If they want things, they get them, and very few people have the incentive or the ability to say no to them. This breeds monsters.

The kind of wealth which takes you out of the common way of life should not be permitted - no one should be too rich to go to the grocery store, too rich to be told no, too rich to do regular people things.

It's not even about the question of, like, queer people assimilating. Queer people are people. If you make us wealthy and powerful beyond the dreams of avarice, we won't stay true to our roots in some imaginary "authentic" way; we'll be monsters because wealth and power make people monstrous. Inequality is bad for society and the more unequal the worse.
posted by Frowner at 11:20 AM on October 12, 2019 [234 favorites]


Degeneres has her name on slot machines, too.

https://www.casinocenter.com/ellens-slots/

Her show and brand is jaw-dropping in its capacity for cross-promoting and money making schemes. She's also just one person. Stop with the celebrity worship. This celebrity class of people has become our modern day demigods, and will be seen as such by future anthropologists. Not sure who this comment is directed to, I'm just shaking my fist at the clouds of smoke all around.
posted by SoberHighland at 11:25 AM on October 12, 2019 [30 favorites]


I'm torn on Ellen. On the one hand, I think she's done more for gay acceptance among the American public than almost anyone else. My 93 year old Southern Baptist grandma is pro-gay rights now. I'd have never thought that would be possible. But she's old and watches daytime TV and so watches Ellen and over time any opposition has faded. At the same time how has that happened? By Ellen being a friendly non-threatening TV personality who doesn't make waves and can be enjoyed by all ages. But in the process did she have to make a few deals with the Devil? Absolutely. You don't stay on air for that long if you're not compromising yourself a bit. So I don't know what to think and I don't know how I feel. But at the same time, I'm not at all surprised.
posted by downtohisturtles at 11:27 AM on October 12, 2019 [35 favorites]


I'm not asking people to call Bush names and spit in his face, I'm asking him to be imprisoned.

I'm asking for both and more!
posted by Greg Nog at 11:27 AM on October 12, 2019 [48 favorites]




“And I’m not talking about politics — I was rooting for [the Cowboys’ opponent] the Packers.”
"I'm not political" is really the merkin of enablers everywhere. You can either stand up against evil or you can enable it. There's no third choice.

Being kind to everyone is maybe not the right framing. You can be universally civil, but you don't need to be friendly. War criminals are not your friends. They're entitled to the basic dignities that they have denied to others, but they're not your buddies. Or shouldn't be, if you're at all decent yourself.

Maybe it's the case that Ellen doesn't have the courage, or doesn't feel safe telling a war criminal to go fuck himself to his face. On the other hand, she wouldn't be where she is if she wasn't capable of some amount of hard-nosed realpolitik. Nobody gets to where she is merely by being cute.

To me, the real sign of which side Ellen is on is that she was invited to sit in a luxury box in the first place. She's not one of "us."

But having said all of that, I feel like the particulars of this are being used as a distraction from the fact that everyone's favourite celebrities run in these circles, without any kind of public outrage. It's not even theoretically possible to be that rich without being somehow allied with people like this.
posted by klanawa at 11:32 AM on October 12, 2019 [36 favorites]


You can be "kind" to GWB without being jovial with him.

I mean, for me, being kind to the guy would mean stopping short of making him clinically deaf from my extended fusillade of obscenities...
posted by notsnot at 11:33 AM on October 12, 2019 [6 favorites]


Bush is a dumb puppy, I want to see Cheney, Rove, Rumsfield, Gonzales, Yoo, Addington and Bybee in jail too. For longer.

Also keep in mind that Amnesty International called the Obama administration drone strikes in Pakistan war crimes too. Obama legally codified a lot of what Trump is doing now: surveilling citizens, extrajudicial killing of citizens, abduction of suspected terrorists on foreign soil, indefinite detention etc etc. If Obama had rolled back the ececutive power grab Cheney/ Rumsfield carried out post 9-11 Trump would arguably not be able to start WW3 like he's trying right now

No one since Carter has avoided getting blood on their hands in office. And I dont think establishing a precedent of running ex dictators out of the country with whatever they can grab has worked too well elsewhete.

I do think "muh legacy" is important to presidents, obviously. And they should earn a good one, not have it handed to them to get celebrity points for talk show hosts. But it's not a popularity contest, it should be based on their actual long term impacts. Which isn't something we talk about enough as a society. Making it a simplified whos side are you really on??!? question doesn't advance us. It does nothing to encourage fuyure leaders to be better.
posted by fshgrl at 11:35 AM on October 12, 2019 [35 favorites]


I haven't believed in Elle DeGeneres' "niceness" since she made that joke about Liza Minelli at the 2014 Oscars.

No one since Carter has avoided getting blood on their hands in office.

Probably most modern heads of state are/were war criminals if the truth were fully known.
posted by orange swan at 11:40 AM on October 12, 2019 [22 favorites]


You don't stay on air for that long if you're not compromising yourself a bit. So I don't know what to think and I don't know how I feel

You can think that in the American order, domestic social reforms are permitted if directly exchanged for the normalization of the murder of millions of innocent people outside the imperial center.

Also keep in mind that Amnesty International called the Obama administration drone strikes in Pakistan war crimes too.

They were. Obama isn't responsible for literal millions of deaths like Bush, but he is a war criminal and murderer of American children.
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:42 AM on October 12, 2019 [18 favorites]


I haven't believed in Elle DeGeneres' "niceness" since she made that joke about Liza Minelli at the 2014 Oscars yt .

Sheesh... I swear I've heard the same joke at Degeneres' expense, too.
posted by SoberHighland at 11:46 AM on October 12, 2019 [2 favorites]


The revolution will not be televised on Ellen

good bumper sticker ... or Metafilter t-shirt
posted by philip-random at 11:55 AM on October 12, 2019


The revolution will not be televised on Ellen

good bumper sticker ... or Metafilter t-shirt


The revolution will not be tellenvised
posted by chavenet at 12:17 PM on October 12, 2019 [6 favorites]


Since she has her own video platform, I would suggest "The revolution will not be EllenTUBEd".
posted by jacquilynne at 12:22 PM on October 12, 2019 [2 favorites]


I have friends with different ideological beliefs than I have. I'm not friends (afaik) with people responsible for thousands of deaths. It's not W's beliefs that are the reason he should be shunned by society and shamed in public. It's his actions.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:29 PM on October 12, 2019 [23 favorites]


> Neither Ellen nor George Bush ever, ever have to think about whether they'll afford something. Probably neither of them ever goes to the grocery store.

Kids these days aren't likely to recall the time George's daddy didn't know what a checkout scanner is. It's not a family that has to take care of themselves.
posted by at by at 12:39 PM on October 12, 2019 [7 favorites]


You know, though the world is now fucked up in ways I could never have anticipated in my youth, I am at least glad to have lived into a time when a Teen Vogue article quotes Antonio Gramsci.
posted by Kat Allison at 12:48 PM on October 12, 2019 [93 favorites]


People have already mentioned some things that might make Ellen want to be friends with George W Bush (namely, they're both super-rich and Ellen's brand depends on her being able to talk to all different kinds of famous people), but I think another big factor into their friendship is that both Ellen and W seem to have this need for people to like them, a need for people to focus on their niceness and pleasantness.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:55 PM on October 12, 2019 [14 favorites]


I have friends with different ideological beliefs than I have. I'm not friends (afaik) with people responsible for thousands of deaths. It's not W's beliefs that are the reason he should be shunned by society and shamed in public. It's his actions.
I have a coworker who is extremely right wing. And an big evangelical, but not in a good way. Anyway, he hated the idea that Al Franken was one of his senators and always said he wanted to give him a piece of his mind. One day, we were waiting to board a flight back from Washington National and Franken was waiting there too. I told him now was his chance to tear Al a new one, but he just went and sat down.

Another coworker of a much more liberal persuasion likes to make the claim that "I would never have owned slaves even if I'd been born into a family that did." In my opinion, that's a smarter claim to make, since you're never going to be put on the spot.

Likewise, few MFers are going to end up sitting next to George Bush at a sportsball game, and if they do they may find themselves feeling kind of constrained by the social niceties into not defecating into his Perrier.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 1:09 PM on October 12, 2019 [26 favorites]


Kids these days aren't likely to recall the time George's daddy didn't know what a checkout scanner is.

In fairness, that was taken out of context. He was asking about a new (at the time) technology that was an adjunct to regular check-out scanners.

There's oh-so-many ways to criticize Bush Sr., but he was actually quite sharp and with-it, especially compared to his son.
posted by explosion at 1:15 PM on October 12, 2019 [13 favorites]


You don't stay on air for that long if you're not compromising yourself a bit.

So Ellen wouldn't be on TV if she weren't willing to suck up to George W. Bush? Tell me more.
posted by JackFlash at 1:16 PM on October 12, 2019 [2 favorites]


People have already mentioned some things that might make Ellen want to be friends with George W Bush (namely, they're both super-rich and Ellen's brand depends on her being able to talk to all different kinds of famous people), but I think another big factor into their friendship is that both Ellen and W seem to have this need for people to like them, a need for people to focus on their niceness and pleasantness.

Yeah, I don't think it boils down to much more than this. Both of them are extremely affable people, and they probably like being affable together.
posted by chainsofreedom at 1:21 PM on October 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


few MFers are going to end up sitting next to George Bush at a sportsball game, and if they do they may find themselves feeling kind of constrained by the social niceties into not defecating into his Perrier.

I would have been pretty willing to accept, "Look folks, sometimes I end up in the same room as a bad person, and it's a little awkward and hard to know what to do, and because I was someone else's guest I decided that I was just going to be polite and move on." Is this still privileged? Absolutely. But I get it. Instead, though, she went with, "And also we are friends, so there, and furthermore, politics is just like liking different football teams," which really feels like a whole other thing.
posted by naoko at 1:31 PM on October 12, 2019 [75 favorites]


Likewise, few MFers are going to end up sitting next to George Bush at a sportsball game, and if they do they may find themselves feeling kind of constrained by the social niceties into not defecating into his Perrier.

There's a lot of ground to cover between, "be best buds with a war ciminal" and "shit in his Perrier." It's almost like, I don't know, a false dilemma. And what makes you so sure that some of us haven't been in this position and taken some kind of action? Not everyone is a coward, you know?

I mean, I wouldn't personally tell someone to go fuck themselves, but I would happily say, "you know, I don't really want to be seen sitting with you because it would look like an endorsement, and I don't endorse war criminals as a matter of principle." You can even use that as your script if you happen to meet one.
posted by klanawa at 1:44 PM on October 12, 2019 [37 favorites]


Likewise, few MFers are going to end up sitting next to George Bush at a sportsball game, and if they do they may find themselves feeling kind of constrained by the social niceties into not defecating into his Perrier.

We will all fail to live up to our beliefs sometimes. When we do, we can reflect on why, and try to do better next time.

There is a big difference between being quiet in the face of evil and befriending and defending it. Ellen isn't reflecting on why she didn't stand up to Bush, and she never will, because she sees his crimes as harmless political differences. Instead, she's defending him.

She's an accomplice, not a bystander.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:49 PM on October 12, 2019 [55 favorites]


Likewise, few MFers are going to end up sitting next to George Bush at a sportsball game, and if they do they may find themselves feeling kind of constrained by the social niceties into not defecating into his Perrier.

How many will then take the stage on their national TV show and defend being nice to him, rather than simply not saying anything about it at all? Or, somehow even worse, try to frame that act of being nice as an example of what everyone else should do? She wasn't feeling constrained by social mores; she actively thinks being friends with a war criminal (who, as above, she has invited on her show and defended before) is the right and just decision.
posted by penduluum at 2:14 PM on October 12, 2019 [24 favorites]


On the one hand, I think she's done more for gay acceptance among the American public than almost anyone else.

Did she though? If anything she is most strongly an advocate for untucked shirts under sweaters.
posted by srboisvert at 2:14 PM on October 12, 2019 [2 favorites]


That’s a bit of a non sequitor, no? If you think someone has done more for gay acceptance among the American public feel free to name them, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what her shirts have to do with the matter.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 2:23 PM on October 12, 2019 [4 favorites]


One can both dislike Ellen and acknowledge the massive role she's had in LGBTQ+ acceptance (particularly lesbian acceptance). Through her show she's done a lot for normalization among people who have never met an (out) LGBTQ+ person.
posted by schroedinger at 2:29 PM on October 12, 2019 [15 favorites]


I used to work at a bookstore in McLean, Virginia, a tony DC suburb where lots of politicians live. Pat Buchanan and Oliver North came into the store on separate occasions. I hate those fuckers and they were dicks, but I was civil to them. I didn't buddy up with them and go out for beers.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:49 PM on October 12, 2019 [18 favorites]


ellen is the mirror universe oprah
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:58 PM on October 12, 2019 [5 favorites]


I am at least glad to have lived into a time when a Teen Vogue article quotes Antonio Gramsci.
I am a little sad to live in a time when Teen Vogue is the outlet that publishes this essay, as opposed to, say, the New York Times.
posted by Aardvark Cheeselog at 3:09 PM on October 12, 2019 [38 favorites]


Likewise, few MFers are going to end up sitting next to George Bush at a sportsball game, and if they do they may find themselves feeling kind of constrained by the social niceties into not defecating into his Perrier.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 1:09 PM on October 12 [10 favorites +] [!]


Pah! Just what a servant of the murderous King of Uruk would say!
posted by AdamCSnider at 3:16 PM on October 12, 2019 [21 favorites]


Bush is a dumb puppy, I want to see Cheney, Rove, Rumsfield, Gonzales, Yoo, Addington and Bybee in jail too.

Well, that's never going to happen. But what we CAN do is harsh on a talk show host. Surely that's doing just as much good? Safer too.

I mean, I think people have acknowledged that the real targets for their anger are never going to be held to account, so they get who they can. Whether it's a talk show host, a British actress who confesses to ignorance, or a girl who criticizes AA video games. Throw the rocks as high as they'll reach, there'll be a woman in range.

So when the revolution comes, Rove will be safe. His hairdresser though? She's fucking TOAST.
posted by happyroach at 3:47 PM on October 12, 2019 [22 favorites]


There was this woman I worked with for ten years. She was nice as pie.

Then, in an unguarded moment, she started ranting to me about "welfare queens", all because she had spotted a woman of color wearing a nice coat.

I could not, after that point, talk to her except as a distant co-worker. I say this, not to claim "points" for being a "woke old dude," but because it embarrassed me then and it embarrasses me now.

My current boss is abusive towards immigrants, POC and non-binary folk; she'd never admit this of course. But you have to "make nice" with the racist, sexist morons just to get things done.

I'm pretty much done with "nice."
posted by SPrintF at 3:59 PM on October 12, 2019 [36 favorites]


Nice is a fucking cookie made by Peak Freans -- as I heard it ranted once.
posted by philip-random at 4:26 PM on October 12, 2019 [4 favorites]


It’s particularly galling because no one is more directly responsible for the current intractable political bitterness and division we face than George W Bush (and the people and institutions surrounding him for 8 years). Republicans right after 9/11 called Democrats traitors for criticizing Bush. To be told now that Bush is a model of civility is... enough to make you incandescent. It’s so phony.
posted by cricketcello at 4:26 PM on October 12, 2019 [42 favorites]


You really couldn't ask for a more concise graphic representation of the liberal / radical divide than that that Abu Ghraib still.
posted by ryanshepard at 5:07 PM on October 12, 2019 [5 favorites]


But what we CAN do is harsh on a talk show host. Surely that's doing just as much good? Safer too.

I mean, I think people have acknowledged that the real targets for their anger are never going to be held to account, so they get who they can.


Pssssht, I think "Be kind to literally-literally everyone" is rather harmful bullshit, especially when what you really mean by that is "I don't think it's fair for anyone to think I have bad judgment based on the friends I choose to keep." Just because tons of men are responsible for much worse things than Ellen doesn't mean Ellen doesn't deserve a fair amount of criticism for barfing her "Be kind to everyone" schtick as her reason for befriending George W Bush, who is still very influential within the Republican party, doing things like lobbying Republican politicians to help get Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:14 PM on October 12, 2019 [22 favorites]


I kept being surprised by the Teen Vogue article explaining George W. Bush's war record and the Dixie Chicks, and then remembered, oh, this was ten years ago. The target audience for this article couldn't be expected to know any of this. They would have been six.

Pssssht, I think "Be kind to literally-literally everyone" is rather harmful bullshit, especially when what you really mean by that is "I don't think it's fair for anyone to think I have bad judgment based on the friends I choose to keep."

The point was whether "Be kind to literally-literally everyone" is more harmful bullshit than "torture works and is necessary".

The key weakness of the left is our insistence on ideological purity. You can't admit to being on a journey, or changing your views, because if you're not already on board you're hurting people, if you're taking baby steps you might as well be standing still. The obvious conclusion here is that we're all hurting people (a conclusion backed up by studies showing that Westerners who genuinely treat black-skinned people the same as white-skinned people are a statistical blip) but the way it usually plays out is that if you weren't already on board, you were always really on the side of oppression.

What's Ellen's likely reaction to all of this? For her to acknowledge she's fucked up, she has to recognise herself in the descriptions of her being an elite who doesn't know or care about ordinary people. Or, she can look at her conservative fans who value niceness and are accepting and unchallenging and decide that after all this time, she deserves acceptance. She can't take baby steps towards change because that's not an option she's allowed.
posted by Merus at 5:35 PM on October 12, 2019 [12 favorites]


I'm a little surprised most of the discussion here has been focussed on Bush's record as a war criminal. I'm angry about that too; his torture policies shame me as an American, and we've never acknowledged or atoned for the crime. But is it the most relevant thing here?

In the context of Ellen it's Bush's LGBT record that seems most salient. By the standards of the Republicans at the time, Bush was sorta kinda not anti-gay. Which doesn't really say a lot, except he was able to tolerate appointing one or two openly gay appointees. But then 2004 he came out swinging supporting the Federal Marriage Amendment.
President Bush said today he supported a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, declaring that such a measure was the only way to protect the status of marriage between man and woman, which he called "the most fundamental institution of civilization."

In an announcement fraught with social, legal and political implications, Mr. Bush urged Congress to act on the amendment quickly and send it on to the state legislatures. Quick action is essential, he said, to bring clarity to the law and protect husband-and-wife marriages from a few "activist judges."
This wasn't some token support; he publicly advocated for it, gave it significant political capital. It came fairly close to passing Congress, too, and was a real threat to civil rights. Thanks George!

Did he ever apologize? Did he ever recant? Do you suppose he leaned over to Ellen in the box seat and said "oh yeah, please tell Portia I'm sorry about that whole treating y'all as inferior thing? Really I love lesbians, heh heh."

I could imagine it being possible to forgive Bush for his anti-gay record, if he came out with a full recanting and apology. Hell I bit my tongue and pretended the Clintons were pro-gay, getting behind my 2016 candidate. But I don't think Bush has ever done anything to reverse the harm he caused, has he? Has he ever sought any sort of reconciliation?
posted by Nelson at 5:43 PM on October 12, 2019 [17 favorites]


"Torture works and is necessary" and "Be kind to literally-literally everyone" are both harmful bullshit. The former is clearly worse than the latter, but I think the amount of criticism Ellen is recieving is appropriate for the level of harmful bullshit she's pedalling.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:46 PM on October 12, 2019 [5 favorites]


I'm a little surprised most of the discussion here has been focussed on Bush's record as a war criminal. I'm angry about that too; his torture policies shame me as an American, and we've never acknowledged or atoned for the crime. But is it the most relevant thing here?

There is gay marriage in America now (albeit there are so many other LGBTQ rights that are still being fought for). However, there is no similar recourse for the millions of Iraqis killed, mutilated, and displaced by George Bush's illegal and immoral war.
posted by Ouverture at 6:09 PM on October 12, 2019 [15 favorites]


Yeah I don't mean to compare Bush's war crimes with his record on LGBT rights to see which is the greater moral or practical harm. They're both awful, the war crimes are outright evil. It's just in the context of Ellen, and her show, the LGBT thing is so personal. If this whole moment is a little heart warming story of getting along, where's the part where George apologizes directly to the person sitting next to him that he harmed?
posted by Nelson at 6:19 PM on October 12, 2019 [5 favorites]


Ellen is rich as God, as LGBTQ celebs go, and so she is insulated from the effects of homophobic Republicans. Including Dubya and his circle.

Or so she thinks.

No matter how much money we gays have, we're not safe from the right. We never will be safe from Republicans. Or Dems, to some extent.

But she has been insulated from having to deal with our reality for a while, so I can't say I don't see why she's where she's at. My hope is that it is a facade and she has a plan to get herself and her wife out of the country when Pence takes over.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 6:34 PM on October 12, 2019 [5 favorites]


I kept being surprised by the Teen Vogue article explaining George W. Bush's war record and the Dixie Chicks, and then remembered, oh, this was ten years ago. The target audience for this article couldn't be expected to know any of this. They would have been six.

I noticed that, too. Even as an adult reader, I kinda liked it. It was useful to have a summary of the bullshit that came before the current bullshit, and they did an excellent job of positioning this in the political context of both that time and this time.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:03 PM on October 12, 2019 [12 favorites]


Yeah I don't mean to compare Bush's war crimes with his record on LGBT rights to see which is the greater moral or practical harm. They're both awful, the war crimes are outright evil. It's just in the context of Ellen, and her show, the LGBT thing is so personal. If this whole moment is a little heart warming story of getting along, where's the part where George apologizes directly to the person sitting next to him that he harmed?

Ah, I see what you're saying. But I think her behavior (along with the behavior of Obama and other powerful people who have some form of minority identity) demonstrates that with enough wealth and power, these things aren't personal, at least not to the point where they override the massive pressures to remain collegial and polite (and wealthy).

I think another problem with this specific topic is that other than American Jews, Americans in general, especially white folks, have no personal and recent connection to surviving genocide and war crimes. My connection is only a few decades ago; I can talk.

This conversation is theoretical for most of the people participating it in America and to compound things, the victims here are brown, poor, and far away and the horror is still happening.
posted by Ouverture at 7:10 PM on October 12, 2019 [6 favorites]


class solidarity among the ultra wealthy will always, always supersede any kind of loyalty they feel towards any other group to which they might belong. there are no exceptions to this rule.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:19 PM on October 12, 2019 [33 favorites]


I was really taken aback by her comments. She's been such a strong voice for LGBTQ+ Americans, and while I was kind-of shruggo about her being besties with W (ex-presidents always get their foreign policy whitewashed, and I can understand if someone not super politically aware didn't know the difference between realpolitik and war crimes, although it's NOT GREAT), her defense was, to me, absolutely intolerable. Like, it's EASY for her to be nice to him, because his LGBTQ+ policies didn't inconvenience her.

I very much assume that W has moved forward on LGBTQ+ rights, both because he is no longer electorally beholden to the GOP's right wing and because the US in general has moved forward. BUT HE NEEDS TO SAY THAT. And for one of the most prominent avatars of the LGBTQ+ movement in the US to advocate for being NICE to someone who tried to drive LGBTQ+ Americans back into the closet OR TO BEING KILLED -- that's disgusting. And I'm not nearly as class-conscious and radicalized as a lot of MeFites, but literally the first thing I thought was: Easy for her to say, since they're both rich and he won't come after her, because they're both rich.

Which, not to be weird about it, but is basically how Epstein got away with stuff. "Oh, we're all rich, my raping of children doesn't affect you, because we're all rich! I wouldn't rape YOUR daughters!" Totally fine that W was oppressing LGBTQ+ people, because ELLEN wasn't oppressed, because she's rich like him! She can buy her way out of oppression. So I absolutely heard that "niceness" bullshit not as a call for civility, but as someone defending their right to buy their way out of being oppressed. Like, congrats. Super-glad you have the money to buy yourself out of oppressed minority status. Most of us don't.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:27 PM on October 12, 2019 [36 favorites]


Mefites as a broad generality will never end up sitting next to George Bush at the sportsball game, because ordinary people are never going to be able afford or be allowed into the viewing environment that George Bush enjoys. Ellen is allowed to sit next to George Bush precisely because she isn't going to be rude to him. No one who inconveniences the wealthy and powerful will get near them except on rare occasions. Perhaps you remember the guy who threw the shoe at George Bush and served nine months in jail?

~~
On another note: for civil society to function, it has either to exclude or repress some things to create a shared culture - you can either say, "rapists and racists are not welcome here, we are not going to make nice with you or invite you to dinner" or you can say, "if you are the victim of rape or racism, you'd better shut up about it because we want to invite the rapists and racists to dinner". There is no civil society with a pure general principle of "everyone gets along regardless". You remember "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas"? Civil society there hinges on the repression of truly abominable suffering; that's the glue.

But we have an advantage over the thought experiment of Omelas - our society is glued together by the suffering of the many in the interests of the few, so unlike the poor child in Omelas we have a chance to rise up and change things. The child in Omelas will suffer forever because it is powerless and everyone else either buys in or runs away, but we're here and we can change things*.


*There should be a story called "The Ones Who Came Back To Omelas At The Head Of An Army", of course.
posted by Frowner at 7:45 PM on October 12, 2019 [27 favorites]


It's like putting Sean Spicer on TV again in any capacity, and yet people keep doing it.

Sean Spicer practically has a halo compared to George W Bush, who sent the United States, not to mention the world, on a deadly, unimaginably costly and disastrous path that it has yet to and may never recover from. As horrific as the Trump administration may be, objectively, it has yet to be nearly as destructive. The anti-intellectualism and self serving corruption of the Trump administration echoes that of George W Bush's. His apologists' best defense of him is stupidity. Who is more deserving of utter pariah status and infamy?

To make nice with George W Bush is to step over the river of blood
posted by knoyers at 7:46 PM on October 12, 2019 [14 favorites]


*There should be a story called "The Ones Who Came Back To Omelas At The Head Of An Army", of course.
The Ones Who Stay and Fight by NK Jemesin. It's in How Long 'til Black Future Month.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 8:55 PM on October 12, 2019 [23 favorites]


"Be kind to literally-literally everyone"

Isnt that pretty much the entire basis of American society? I mean, Americans are the most conflict avoiding, prevaricating, chipper, everything-is-fine! nationality by a factor of about 10x. You're famous for it. This country celebrates passive-aggresiveness and collectively shits itself when someone says something bluntly. Especially a woman.

I dont think a 60 something Baby Boomer American woman is gonna suddenly go against a lifetime of conditioning to be nice to everyone, not judge and let bygones be bygones. If you dont believe me try it with your grandma.

The issue isnt Ellen being friends with George Bush, Michelle Obama is friends with him too remember and everyone thinks that's cute. Its society as a whole being too afraid to do anything about the things his administration did and looking for scapegoats. And picking on one that might actually be hurt by their criticism. Bush isnt going to apologize for shit but maybe Ellen will and then we can all pat ourselves on the back for having done something.
posted by fshgrl at 8:55 PM on October 12, 2019 [12 favorites]


I dont think a 60 something Baby Boomer American woman is gonna suddenly go against a lifetime of conditioning to be nice to everyone

Tell that to the people I know who've worked for her. What's the joke? Once you move to L.A two things happens, you get into a parking accident and someone tells you a horror story about Ellen. Niceness ends when its an underling.

Jimmy Fallon got a shit ton of shit for mussing Trump's hair and giving him a nicey-nice platform too. The entire Cable News media basically gave him free advertising every day for a whole year. We can't actually do anything against the war criminals but we can make sure the TV people who play footsie with them don't get our eyeballs and goodwill.

And if you want to talk horror stories about male talk show shots and how they treat writers and underlings, well, get me alone sometime
posted by The Whelk at 9:10 PM on October 12, 2019 [21 favorites]


"I dont think a 60 something Baby Boomer American woman is gonna suddenly go against a lifetime of conditioning to be nice to everyone, not judge and let bygones be bygones. If you dont believe me try it with your grandma."

I mean you are talking about my mom, lifelong Republican, who has flipped her fucking shit. She stopped voting GOP with McCain, and started voting Democrat with Trump. I mean she's super-pissed about the fact that she has to vote for Democrats, who she thinks are terrible people without exception, but it is TOTALLY CLEAR to her that current Republicans are actually evil, whereas Democrats just suck. She is SO UNHAPPY about the whole thing, but the GOP turn against immigrants made her abandon the GOP, because she is huge believer in the American dream, and many of her students (she was a K-12 teacher) were immigrants. She retired to rural North Carolina, where my dad is still working, where they attend a Catholic Church that is literally three English-speaking upper-middle-class families (they are one of the three) and 200 Spanish-speaking immigrant families who work in shitty agriculture and poultry-processing jobs. In 2016, their parish was set on fire by right-wing Trumpist terrorists who wanted to drive the Latinos out of town by torching the Catholic Church. Now my 60-something Baby Boomer mother, who wore twinsets in college in 1969 when everyone else was burning their bras, is SUPER RADICALIZED for the first time in her life and goes to Spanish-language Mass even though she hates it because she can't understand a word of it, because "WHAT ARE THOSE RACISTS GOING TO DO, COME HIT ME? I DARE THEM. I'M AN OLD WHITE LADY. COPS LOVE ME. LET THEM COME IN HERE AND FUCK WITH MASS, I DARE THEM." She sits by the door so if assholes come to disrupt Mass she can stand up and tell them to fuck off. This is my mother but I hardly recognize her, it makes me teary with pride and with fear, because I know the danger she's putting herself in at the church door.

So, I mean, I know, a lot of senior Boomers are poisoned by Fox News. I don't dispute that. But there are 60-something Boomers who are being FUCKING RADICALIZED but the total abandonment of everything they thought the GOP stood for.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:13 PM on October 12, 2019 [125 favorites]


I mean, Americans are the most conflict avoiding

i'm not familiar with this america? and would like to know more about this land of myth and time of magic?
posted by poffin boffin at 9:19 PM on October 12, 2019 [33 favorites]


Yeah but I bet they'd still be polite if confronted with one on live TV though

We can't actually do anything against the war criminals

I strongly disagree with that. The American public are the only people who can do something about the war criminals. If they decide it's too hard or too likely to impact them personally and abdicate that responsibility and focus on shaming celebrities then its all just theatre.
posted by fshgrl at 9:22 PM on October 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


Americans are the most conflict avoiding, prevaricating, chipper, everything-is-fine! nationality by a factor of about 10x. You're famous for it. This country celebrates passive-aggresiveness and collectively shits itself when someone says something bluntly.

Only applies to those of a similar or parallel caste. When Americans look down the hierarchy they're nothing but blunt and aggressive. Listen to average middle to upper income white americans talk about the homeless, for example: less chipper, more genocidal.

As for those above us on the hierarchy, we eschew that passive-aggressive prevarication in favor of religious adoration.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:31 PM on October 12, 2019 [22 favorites]


I mean I'd like to detail a system where the architects of the Iraq War get what they deserve without like, being put on a list.

All we can do is the Kissinger Death Tontine and it's limited rewards.
posted by The Whelk at 9:34 PM on October 12, 2019 [9 favorites]


Isnt that pretty much the entire basis of American society? I mean, Americans are the most conflict avoiding, prevaricating, chipper, everything-is-fine! nationality by a factor of about 10x.

This is true of some cultures in the States, but not others, and the Dale Carnegie school of American thought is alive and well but by no means dominant. Don’t try and pull that shit in Philly (for instance.)
posted by Automocar at 9:38 PM on October 12, 2019 [5 favorites]


This reminds me of how I used to be all “hey Martha and Snoop are friends, what an odd couple!”

And then I realized they’re both chill to the point of inducing ASMR and they’re rich af and that’s then when I realized Jesus THEY'RE THE SAME PERSON!!!!!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:39 PM on October 12, 2019 [15 favorites]


I mean, Americans are the most conflict avoiding, prevaricating, chipper, everything-is-fine! nationality by a factor of about 10x.

That is... extremely not correct. I don't know how you could know anything about American culture and think something like this. Hell, the animating idea of the political party that currently controls 2/3 of our government is that overt displays of dominance and cruelty are inherently virtuous.

And that is definitely not an attitude that we're famous for. Maybe ask some people in the Middle East about that.
posted by IAmUnaware at 9:48 PM on October 12, 2019 [12 favorites]


If "Be kind to literally-literally everyone" was actually the basis of American society, nobody would have blinked or even noticed that Ellen was chummy with George W Bush.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:57 PM on October 12, 2019 [2 favorites]


I think another problem with this specific topic is that other than American Jews, Americans in general, especially white folks, have no personal and recent connection to surviving genocide and war crimes.

I get what you mean to say here, but please be careful with your phrasing. There are a lot of Americans, not only Jews, who have personal and recent connections to surviving genocide and war crimes. There's multiple communities that immigrated in large numbers to the U.S. in the 20th century to escape genocide, not to mention the entire Native American population. And perhaps one could debate whether Jim Crow terrorism and apartheid meet the exact definition of genocide, but I don't think there's enough daylight between those phenomena to draw distinctions at the level of its impact on people's experiences.

I point this out not to call you out, but to highlight what I think is an important point, which is that it's not so much that Americans have no basis for relating to the experience of surviving genocide and war crimes, as that we generally have worked to ignore or erase these experiences in the interest of assimilationism, which returns to the exact phenomenon at play in this story about Ellen.
posted by biogeo at 10:05 PM on October 12, 2019 [26 favorites]


I strongly disagree with that. The American public are the only people who can do something about the war criminals. If they decide it's too hard or too likely to impact them personally and abdicate that responsibility and focus on shaming celebrities then its all just theatre.

okay, well a whole lot more people are talking about bush's war crimes today than they were last week. the majority of americans aren't politically engaged enough to really consider how awful what we did to iraq was (and is). all of this has to start somewhere. why not here?

The issue isnt Ellen being friends with George Bush, Michelle Obama is friends with him too remember and everyone thinks that's cute.

i would like to dispute this: i do not fucking think that's cute. i thought it was abhorrent and vile, just like this is. i will continue to shout about it because it's all i can do. you can call that theatre but since your only contribution to this issue seems to be scolding others, i'm not too concerned.
posted by JimBennett at 10:11 PM on October 12, 2019 [9 favorites]


Yeah no one like thinks the Michelle Obama shit with Bush is cute. She has more leeway cause current/former First Lady has to be political and has to be at these events but no, it's not fucking cute.
posted by The Whelk at 11:21 PM on October 12, 2019 [20 favorites]


I point this out not to call you out, but to highlight what I think is an important point, which is that it's not so much that Americans have no basis for relating to the experience of surviving genocide and war crimes, as that we generally have worked to ignore or erase these experiences in the interest of assimilationism, which returns to the exact phenomenon at play in this story about Ellen.

I apologize for my poor ability to express myself because this is exactly what I am saying. But at the same time, there is at least some desire and capacity in American discourse and pedagogy to reckon with the domestic horrors of indigenous genocide, slavery, and Jim Crow. It is nowhere near enough and it has come at a heavy price of literal centuries of activism and martyrdom, but even that is something.

How many American students learn about the extent of the horrors committed in Vietnam? Cambodia? Chile? Afghanistan? Iraq? Yemen? Bangladesh? How many American adults truly know just how horrifyingly massive the charnel house their smiling leaders have built? I doubt very many even here know and I consider this community to be far more educated than the average citizen.

What scares and saddens me more is that even if more Americans knew, I'm not sure they would care.
posted by Ouverture at 11:47 PM on October 12, 2019 [3 favorites]


Slightly off topic, but what is the political situation over at Vogue? This was an excellent article but in no way is it at a teen reading level or interest level. The vocabulary alone is a challenge for most adults. Was this meant for Vogue and got pushed to Teen Vogue where there’s less relevant readership?
posted by iamkimiam at 11:59 PM on October 12, 2019


This was an excellent article but in no way is it at a teen reading level or interest level.

I assure you, it totally is.
posted by Automocar at 12:01 AM on October 13, 2019 [29 favorites]


When it comes to being nice, the Witch had the right idea: You're so nice, you're not good , you're not bad, you're just nice well I'm not not good, I'm not nice, I'm just right.
posted by The Whelk at 12:07 AM on October 13, 2019 [7 favorites]


I mean, Americans are the most conflict avoiding, prevaricating, chipper, everything-is-fine! nationality by a factor of about 10x.

That's why the stereotype of people being unreasonably and aggressively demanding of low-wage service workers is definitely not an American woman.

It's also problematic and misogynist, but it's not exactly borne of a widespread perception that Americans are always super nice and civil, as is being suggested. It's borne of the actually existing perception where the opposite of that is true.)
posted by Dysk at 2:47 AM on October 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry, but this whole "context of Ellen" argument takes a distant back seat to the context of W, which caused untold suffering and death to real people. Inevitably, some of those people were LGBT+. Whatever good that Ellen might have done for them was irrelevant when W was done. He has done absolutely nothing to atone for the unconscionable evil he helped to perpetrate. He does not deserve civility, let alone nice, from anyone.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:06 AM on October 13, 2019 [5 favorites]


I am a little sad to live in a time when Teen Vogue is the outlet that publishes this essay, as opposed to, say, the New York Times.

I'm not sure what difference it makes where it was published as long as it WAS published.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 3:07 AM on October 13, 2019 [6 favorites]


How many people read Teen Vogue? That might be the difference it makes.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:09 AM on October 13, 2019 [5 favorites]


I guess what I mean is, in modern times - really, what difference does it make? This story blew up enormously, and where it came from soon became quite irrelevant.

Once Twitter boosted the signal and the subject is a public figure of Ellen's stature, all bets are off- awareness reached massive levels practically instantly. Perhaps in general, initial readership can matter in terms of achieving awareness of a particular topic or story, but in this specific case it did not. If this had been a NYT piece, I'm not sure how much faster that would have occurred. Maybe somewhat. But in some ways, any "delay" in reaching peak awareness may actually help because it allows a bit of time for things like viral videos to be created. Who's to say that there may not be a conscious choice to avoid the most high-profile platforms in order to stage the development of a story for some degree of groundswell, hoping for just the kind of buildup that this one had?
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 3:25 AM on October 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


The topic blew up and became huge, but you'd still need to read the actual Teen Vogue article for the Gramsci quote. And for all the awareness and wide spread of the story, not everyone is reading the original piece. They're watching the viral videos you mentioned, and reading (screenshots of) social media posts and what have you. It - the Gramsci quote - would have been more widely disseminated in a more mainstream publication, still.
posted by Dysk at 3:40 AM on October 13, 2019


Ellen's wealth is hugely relevant here, but I can't help but feel that her whiteness is too. War crimes are less important because they happen to people she doesn't relate to. She wouldn't be the first white feminist to throw everyone else under the bus. And as much as I agree that she's done a lot to increase acceptance of LGBT people, a lot of that was based on her being visible and inoffensive. I don't recall her ever stating it as a goal (correct me if I'm wrong, I want to be fair), and it might just be a side effect of her personal career goals.
posted by harriet vane at 4:31 AM on October 13, 2019 [15 favorites]


She has never made me belly laugh. Neither has he.
posted by DJZouke at 5:55 AM on October 13, 2019


My father, who was an alcoholic, always explained to me that the people I smoked pot with were not friends but acquaintances. Looking back this was true where our relationship revolved entirely around smoking pot. The same can be said with Ellen and her acquaintances revolving around money and influence. These are not friends and would just as easily throw her under the bus if money was involved.
posted by JJ86 at 6:10 AM on October 13, 2019 [13 favorites]


In 2016, their parish was set on fire by right-wing Trumpist terrorists who wanted to drive the Latinos out of town by torching the Catholic Church.

Who has some kind of comprehensive report on hate crimes nationwide? I feel like there are so many that just don't make the papers. (Around here, there was a heavily armed guy who was stalking a grade school with a large POC population and that never made the press at all - I only heard about it because I knew someone. For some reason the cops seem to have deterred him a bit - cleaning up after a school shooting must have seemed like too much work even though they're all Trumpists - so it's not ongoing as far as I know.)

The same can be said with Ellen and her acquaintances revolving around money and influence. These are not friends and would just as easily throw her under the bus if money was involved

It's class solidarity - when you no longer support the interests of the class, they throw you under the bus even if you still have money and even if you have gone to the same parties. It's part of what keeps people in line.
posted by Frowner at 7:55 AM on October 13, 2019 [6 favorites]


Bush should have gotten a firing squad, no question. Same for his VP and SS.

I don't know how I feel about Ellen. I thought at first it was just a coincidence that she ended up in the same loge (wtf do you call football private booths?), but that's not possible. I'm disappointed and ashamed that a gay person that so many look up to would even breath the same air as war criminal Bush. I have no idea what will happen to Ellen. Should anything happen? I doubt advertisers will pull their support of her show. Maybe she'll just keep on doing what she's doing while her ratings slowly take a plunge. But I remain feeling disappointed and sort of betrayed.
posted by james33 at 8:07 AM on October 13, 2019


I was curious about where Ellen was from, because I assumed someplace totally Midwestern, but it turns out that she mostly grew up in suburban New Orleans. I think the whole "be nice to everyone*" (but with that asterix that says "really, everyone who counts, which isn't actually everyone") thing is pretty regional in the US. I very much see it espoused as a value in Iowa, where I now live. Now, I hear you saying "wait, isn't Iowa where Steve King represents? Didn't ISU fans beat up the University of Iowa marching band like three weeks ago?" To which the answer is yes. Yes, that is all true. People here are not actually nice, even superficially, to everyone. But they espouse niceness as a value, particularly when it comes to people with whom you interact as equals. You should be able to go to a cookout with your neighbors and be friendly, no matter what your political, religious, or college-football-related differences.

And the thing is, that culture of niceness can be leveraged in some ways to argue for rights for some people. As long as you are accepted into the circle of niceness, it is pretty easy to frame discrimination as a violation of neighborliness. Chris and Joe, the gay couple next door, are nice guys. They shoveled your sidewalk when you were out of town and it snowed. It would be not-nice and unneighborly to permit people to fire them just because they're gay. Your church may be right that they are very sinful, but we can't let religion get in the way of being nice to each other. I think that one of the reason that Iowa has pretty strong LGBTQ protections is that people see their LGBTQ family-members and neighbors as being within the circle of niceness.

I would argue that this is a limited, pretty dangerous political strategy. For one thing, it's contingent on Chris and Joe completely assimilating into the rest of the community and never challenging dominant norms. The second they challenge dominant norms, they have left the circle of niceness, and all bets are off. For another, it only extends as far as people's literal neighborhoods. They don't have any obligation to be nice to gay people (or any people) in San Francisco or New York. Why should they care about people in Iraq, thousands of miles away, who they will never meet? The flipside of the politics of neighborliness is insularity and disregard for strangers.

So anyway, I think I understand where Ellen is coming from, and I don't think it's just class solidarity. But it's still terrible politics.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:23 AM on October 13, 2019 [19 favorites]


Slightly off topic, but what is the political situation over at Vogue? This was an excellent article but in no way is it at a teen reading level or interest level. The vocabulary alone is a challenge for most adults. Was this meant for Vogue and got pushed to Teen Vogue where there’s less relevant readership?
Super-duper different situations, I think. Vogue is primarily a print magazine. It needs to maintain a subscription base, relies on advertisers of luxury goods, and has a fairly limited amount of space for articles. Teen Vogue is online only, and my hunch is that the readership is driven by social media as much as by people who read the website the way they'd read a magazine. They've got a clear brand as a site for woke young women who like fashion, beauty, and politics, but their articles have broader reach because of social media. Every article can have a separate audience, which is different from a print magazine. I think in some ways Teen Vogue is more of an extension of the feminist blog culture that used to exist than it is an extension of Vogue, the print magazine. The current executive editor, Samhita Mukhopadhyay, used to be executive editor at Feministing, a blog aimed at young feminists. Also, I do know some teens who read Teen Vogue, but my hunch is that a big chunk of the audience is 20-to-30-something women, most of whom probably don't regularly read Vogue.

So no, there's no way this would have been in Vogue. But Teen Vogue and Vogue aren't really the same kind of publication.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:43 AM on October 13, 2019 [13 favorites]


Yeah Teen Vogue is something altogether different than you would expect from the title. Has been for awhile now.
posted by Nelson at 9:02 AM on October 13, 2019 [6 favorites]


Now I don't feel bad about never liking Ellen. Huzzah to that.

I would be less bothered about their "friendship" if I thought Bush II ever made any amends or felt any regrets for his behavior. If that had gone on (or has gone on privately), I'd be less bugged. Who knows though.

I don't think any of us would actually shit in Bush's drink, because we'd get arrested if we did anything but be polite.

Michelle Obama is kind of obligated to be friendly with Bush on some level, I think, given the job. There's a commonality between those who have been in the job that the rest of us mortals don't understand going on as well.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:58 AM on October 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


While we're on the topic of Bush's war crimes & related horribleness, there's this article I just stumbled upon on Patheos: Agog Over Gog and Magog, wherein it appears that Bush may have been frighteningly sincere in his apocalyptic evangelical Christian casus belli for the iraq invasion -
"Incredibly, when President George W. Bush was stampeding the Iraq invasion in 2003, he told French President Jacques Chirac that the attack was needed to thwart Gog and Magog, the Bible’s satanic agents of the Apocalypse.

Honest. This isn’t a joke. The president of the United States, in a top-secret phone call to a major European ally, asked for French troops to join American soldiers in invading Iraq as a mission from God.

After leaving office, Chirac recounted that the American leader appealed to their “common faith” (Christianity) and told him: “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”"
posted by soundguy99 at 12:31 PM on October 13, 2019 [4 favorites]



The issue isnt Ellen being friends with George Bush, Michelle Obama is friends with him too remember and everyone thinks that's cute.

Late to this, but for the record, I don't think it's cute, either. I think it's disgusting. You should interact with a better class of people.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 12:54 PM on October 13, 2019 [4 favorites]


Isnt that pretty much the entire basis of American society?

Oh my, no. American society is based on a systemic and elaborate series of overt abuses and microaggressions, combined with a complex system of gun worship and an enormous level of wealth fetishism.

(You're not serious, right? I mean there's a tiny subset of mostly midwestern white people who could fit that stereotype if you don't scratch the surface, but even that's pretty much a polite fiction. What Rust Moranis said, only more so).
posted by aspersioncast at 1:06 PM on October 13, 2019 [7 favorites]


Ellen was very much committed to advancing Lesbian and Gay rights in the early 90s when she came out on TV and lost her TV show over it. I thought she was smart and funny as hell, but not exactly radical left. It still took her a LONG time (in Hollywood years) to make the comeback; to me she was at least not annoyingly misogynist like so many of the white dudes who ran TV in the 90s and 00s. She was pretty middle of the road liberal, but still better than a lot of other powerbrokers.

But at this point the "niceness" that she has stood on for so many years is just a strategy that has gone bad, in fact stinks. In the spotlight as much as she is, she's bound to fuck up, but this is more than that, and here's hoping she regains some humanity at some point. Bush and all his men should be in prison... god only knows what would have happened in 2012 or 16 had Obama held them to account -- I really don't know. But it would have been the right thing to do. Remember when Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize that year just for getting elected?

Also: Hooray for Teen Vogue.
posted by allthinky at 1:28 PM on October 13, 2019 [4 favorites]


Who has some kind of comprehensive report on hate crimes nationwide?

Emily Gorcenski maintains a list of recent white supremacist court cases at first-vigil.com
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 5:18 PM on October 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Remember when Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize that year just for getting elected?

Hell, remember when Henry Kissinger got the Nobel Peace Prize?

The Onion can't even compete with reality.
posted by Ouverture at 5:30 PM on October 13, 2019 [5 favorites]


I would have been pretty willing to accept, "Look folks, sometimes I end up in the same room as a bad person, and it's a little awkward and hard to know what to do, and because I was someone else's guest I decided that I was just going to be polite and move on."

I've never had a chance to do it to W but I was lucky enough to be able to shake his brother's Jeb's hand and smile while I insulted him to his face.

A+++++ experience, recommend. Would do again.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:35 PM on October 13, 2019 [16 favorites]


Activist Rafael Shimunov re-edited Ellen's video to include photos from the second Iraqi war in the background, and her team got it taken down from Twitter, and well, the Streisand Effect kicked in: his FB post where it's still up. Am on mobile, so if anyone else can provide the non-fb alternates for folks, feel free.
posted by cendawanita at 12:07 AM on October 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


I thought everyone knew that this was what Ellen was? A step forward by being an open lesbian who made the primetime back when America was much more homophobic because anyone who found her scary was clearly being ridiculous but still had the aura of not being entirely bland because she was an open lesbian and that itself was inherently edgy. Her niceness back in the 90s and early 00s that opened doors and presented a non-threatening lesbian on TV was exactly the same thing that enables her to be friends with people like George W Bush.
posted by Francis at 12:40 AM on October 14, 2019


This is more than that.
posted by allthinky at 5:10 AM on October 14, 2019


But Teen Vogue and Vogue aren't really the same kind of publication.

Yes. Vogue sells stuff to rich people. Teen Vogue is woke news written, for, and read exclusively by Very Online People.
posted by FakeFreyja at 6:40 AM on October 14, 2019


Where does Vogue Knitting fit in politically?
posted by asperity at 9:03 AM on October 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


Where does Vogue Knitting fit in politically?

Right next to the guillotines.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:44 AM on October 14, 2019 [8 favorites]


Vogue Knitting, fwiw, is no longer owned by Conde Nast, and hasn't been for a long time. It's run by a small publisher that does VK and some other craft books and distributes mostly through non-book stores.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:01 AM on October 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


Good to know! I've only ever bought their extremely infrequent special issues featuring crochet.
posted by asperity at 10:19 AM on October 14, 2019


Vogue Knitting, as far as I can tell, has no politics. If you're looking for knitting content with good politics, Ravelry is with Teen Vogue on Team Unexpectedly Political.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:29 AM on October 14, 2019 [7 favorites]


I've caught her show a few times, the Oscars when she was emcee, a game show. She has a mean streak that isn't even well-hidden. As people gain power, they hang out with other rich-n-powerful people, and they overlook the ways people got and stayed rich-n-powerful. DeGeneris mostly got paid a lot to perform, one of the few ways to make piles-o-cash without much corporate assholery, but now she's powerful, and assimilated into that otherworld where she is very well-insulated from anything she doesn't choose to experience.

Bush is a fucking war criminal, along with Cheney and the gang. People keep telling me the current fucker in the White House makes Bush look good, and I keep replying that 125,000 dead Iraqi civilians suggest otherwise. Proclaiming friendship with war criminals is a really bad look, but we are in a precarious time, and this is a giant, manufactured distraction. Also,the Bush wealth is from Big Oil, andI hear that'sgot some side effects.

Can we please bring back the graduated income tax with confiscatory rates at the upper end? It's ridiculously difficult to retain humanity with that sort of wealth, most of it is made in obscene ways, and the inequality is just ruining this country.
posted by theora55 at 2:01 PM on October 14, 2019 [9 favorites]


Ellen also gave the Trumps that ridiculous baby stroller with a chandelier that was in that "all gold room" People photoshoot. Although this was prior to the Trump presidency, it's not like he's ever been a decent or good person.
posted by primalux at 4:59 PM on October 14, 2019 [6 favorites]


w is also friends with the Dalai Lama, as shown in a recent doc
posted by brujita at 9:46 PM on October 14, 2019


Hell I bit my tongue and pretended the Clintons were pro-gay, getting behind my 2016 candidate.

I recently read a very interesting tweet thread on this topic.
posted by nnethercote at 11:05 PM on October 14, 2019 [7 favorites]


Vogue Knitting, as far as I can tell, has no politics.

All knitting is political.
posted by Madame Defarge at 11:14 PM on October 14, 2019 [5 favorites]


I recently read a very interesting tweet thread on this topic.

That is a very interesting thread. Not because I think it settles the matter or transforms my feelings about the Clintons, but because it's a good reminder that history is more complicated than our memory makes it. Some of the things in that thread are small, discreet and low-cost, but some of them aren't. And some of them - like pushing NIH to include lesbians in research studies - are kind of a pretty big deal even if it doesn't look that way.

I think it also illustrates how, right from the moment that supporting gay people became somewhat socially acceptable, the push was to support middle class, white, homonormative gay people - also that the framing was very often "pity the poor gays what with AIDS and everything", pushing us into a position of abjection because that's the most comfortable for straight people.

This does not undercut the fact that there was a political cost to supporting even affluent white gay people, or that it took some commitment to do so. It's not so much a slam on a particular politician as a slam on how our democracy works - if gay politics rose into the mainstream in a representative way, they would represent everyone, and since most gay people are not affluent and white and homonormative a more truly representative politics would look really different. The problem isn't so much that an affluent white straight woman who is sympathetic to gay people finds the issues that matter to affluent white gays the easiest to grasp; the problem is that liberation should not hinge on one person standing up for us.

Democracy really has to be not just for the many but of the many if it's going to work.
posted by Frowner at 6:03 AM on October 15, 2019 [7 favorites]


When Americans look down the hierarchy they're nothing but blunt and aggressive. Listen to average middle to upper income white americans talk about the homeless, for example: less chipper, more genocidal.

As for those above us on the hierarchy, we eschew that passive-aggressive prevarication in favor of religious adoration.

"The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: 'if you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?' There will also be an American flag no larger than a child’s hand – glued to a lollipop stick and flying from the cash register." —Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
posted by non canadian guy at 8:47 AM on October 15, 2019 [5 favorites]


Vogue Knitting, as far as I can tell, has no politics.
All knitting is political.
posted by Madame Defarge at 11:14 PM on October 14 [4 favorites −] [!]


On a related note....

posted by jenfullmoon at 12:14 PM on October 15, 2019


I have to admit Ellen dwells in a complicated spot politically. I remember hearing conservative talk radio call her "Ellen Degenerate" in the early 2000s so clearly her "LGBTQ Agenda" did mean something politically, at least to those who opposed it. I guess acting like a relative moderate is an extremist has always been their bread and butter. Those were the same sort of talk hosts (Savage, Limbaugh) who acted like they were holding "Mister Bush" accountable at midterm but would always soften up once elections rolled around.
posted by JauntyFedora at 4:08 PM on October 15, 2019


> How many American students learn about the extent of the horrors committed in Vietnam? Cambodia? Chile? Afghanistan? Iraq? Yemen? Bangladesh? How many American adults truly know just how horrifyingly massive the charnel house their smiling leaders have built? I doubt very many even here know and I consider this community to be far more educated than the average citizen.

What scares and saddens me more is that even if more Americans knew, I'm not sure they would care.


Just something to keep in mind while generalizing about Americans: plenty of American students and adults have immigrated from or are descended/related to people in the above countries. In addition to the Americans with direct personal ties to countries that suffered and continue to suffer from war crimes, there's plenty of other Americans who are knowledgeable about and care about the ongoing ramifications of such events, even if they don't necessarily log on to MetaFilter to make a point of communicating that knowledge and caring.

Like, I get what you're getting at about the average American and the limitations of general education in the country in a broader sense. And I don't disagree that for plenty of other Americans, military actions in "far away" countries do seem abstract and detached from the reality of their immediate life. But there's still some nuance between "ignorance" at one end of the spectrum and "knowledgeable but apathetic" at some other end, and the countries you've listed as examples are also specifically the recent countries of origin for many American families, even if they're not the families that come to mind when people outside the U.S. (or even people in the U.S.) think of "Americans" as a group.
posted by rather be jorting at 10:53 PM on October 17, 2019 [5 favorites]




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