There was a time when Ellen Degeneres — queen of white sapphic pop culture — was briefly blacklisted from Hollywood after coming out on her ’90s sitcom, Ellen. A time when she knew what it was like to be shunned by society, underpaid, under-appreciated, discriminated against, and disenfranchised. But now she’s the star of one of the longest-running talk shows in U.S. history, happily (and legally) married to Aussie babe Portia de Rossi, and worth nearly half a billion dollars. Needless to say, she’s forgotten what it’s like to be an average queer struggling to live in this garbage world. This might explain why she was spotted hanging out with former Republican president-turned-famous artist George W. Bush.
After some photos of Degeneres and Bush laughing at a football game went viral, the TV host took some time out of her talk show on Tuesday — the same day the Supreme Court was hearing oral arguments that would help determine if queer and trans people can be legally fired in the U.S. simply for existing — to address her relationship with the former president. Degeneres explained that it wasn’t a big deal that she was friends with Bush, because she’s friends with “a lot of people” with whom she doesn’t share the same beliefs. But many people (particularly the gay, non-white, and female ones) have argued that this goes well beyond a difference of beliefs, invoking the James Baldwin quote, “We can disagree and still love each other, unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.”
The only people who view politics as “just politics” are generally wealthy (and white and straight) people who aren’t affected by those politics. As Vice pointed out, there are several studies that show the more material wealth someone accumulates, the less likely they are to have compassion and empathy for others. Just as wealth bonds the ruling class, Wear Your Voice founder Lara Witt pointed out that whiteness does, too. She explained that it makes sense why a white woman like Degeneres would have more of an interest in being “nice” and keeping the “peace” rather than disrupting the status quo — the same status quo she greatly benefits from.
Degeneres demonstrated some of this cognitive dissonance earlier this year when she supported comedian Kevin Hart after he refused to apologize for some very homophobic (and bad) jokes he’d made, expressing how much he didn’t want his son to be gay. She referred to Hart’s critics as a “small group” of “haters” being “very, very loud.” But while Degeneres thinks that any negative tweets are just haters being loud, she seems to think that any positive tweets are absolute fact that deserve to be blown up and displayed on large-screen TVs on her daytime talk show.
When addressing her relationship with Bush in her monologue, she referenced a (maybe the only?) positive tweet about it. User @Matthew_Oooo wrote “HAHAHA Ellen and George Bush together makes me have faith in America again,” but producers edited out the “HAHAHA” in the beginning (which apparently wasn’t sarcasm), and used it as an example of how Degeneres and Bush’s relationship could be seen as a good thing.
I don’t think I really have to recap why most people aren’t a fan of Bush, but I will: the former president not only started two wars with immeasurable repercussions and worked against legalizing same-sex marriage, but most recently advocated for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused by multiple people of sexual misconduct ahead of his appointment, including the sexual assault of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Despite Ford’s heartbreaking testimony, Kavanaugh went on to become a Supreme Court Justice (with the help of men like Bush). Meanwhile, Ford received countless death threats and was forced to move her family at least four times. The kinds of people who need Degeneres’s support right now are people like Ford, not Bush. They’re the kids getting bullied for being gay, not Hart.
Last year, Degeneres seemed deeply disturbed by Kavanaugh’s appointment, but that was last year and now it’s football season and her rich friends have private boxes, okay??????? So fuck Ford, Degeneres is busy making TikToks with warmongers on her iPhone 11. Personally, as a gay woman, I can’t think of anything I’d rather do less than watch a football game with George Bush, but, hey, to each his own — just kidding, because “to each his own” only applies to surface-level things like style choices and food preferences and not supporting the systemic violence against and oppression of large swaths of the human population.