Monday, December 24, 2018

TV: The lies of Ellen DeGeneres are out in full force in her NETFLIX special

Funny.  Is it enough?  We wondered that as last week ended.


There was Ellen DeGeneres' NETFLIX special RELATABLE.  It was funny -- or, at least, funny-ish. But is that really enough?

Art doesn't have to be true but when you build your special around how true you are and when you talk about your real life suffering, don't people have a right to expect truth?

There was Ellen talking about how she suffered when she came out.  She noted that, at first (1997), they loved her and they loved her show ELLEN but then she was out of job.  And that's true.

And we will not pretend her coming out didn't matter.  It mattered hugely.  It was brave and we've applauded her here for it.  She did what no other person wanted to do -- though, as she notes in the special, she hoped others would -- and we remember another woman was supposed to come out (it was the star of a sitcom -- yeah, Liz Smith hinted who it was and we all knew then and we all know now).

Again, we applaud her for that.

But we applaud truth and we're applauding her for telling her truth -- back in 1997.

We don't applaud her truth in the special because it's just not true.

Despite the fact that she's built the special around truth with lines like, "It was more important to me to be proud of myself and live my truth."  At one point, she declares.

Unemployment is a side effect.  That is definitely -- I lost my sitcom when I came out and, uh, it's not like nobody warned me.  Everybody warned me -- my publicist, my agent, my manager.  Anyone making money off of me said, "Don't do it."  But, you know, my worst fears came true. Because -- and that's why people stay closeted. The same people who loved me, just overnight, just hated me.  Just because they knew I was gay.  Everything changed and I, you know, I went through a depression and people made fun of me and people were writing articles about me, dissecting the whole process and why I did it and why I shouldn't have done it.  And, you know, it was just a really tough thing.  It took three years for me to get back on television.  


It did not take her three years to get back on television.  It wasn't even two years.  The last new episode of ELLEN aired July 20, 1998.  March 7, 2000, she was back on TV in HBO's IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK II.  It was one year and about seven months.  Three years?  No. Equally true, the last new episode of ELLEN aired July 20, 1998 and she was on TV frequently in 1999 promoting her two films released that year, ED TV and THE LOVE LETTER.

Even more important, while in NYC to wrap up her comedy tour (July 2000), she told reporters that she would begin filming a sitcom for CBS shortly (THE ELLEN SHOW -- a sitcom where she was again playing Ellen who was gay from the start of the show -- the sitcom also featured the last filmed reunion of Mary Tyler Moore and Ed Asner).

But Ellen was never 'away.'

Yes,  it did hurt her career to come out, but we're not the only ones who applauded her in real time.  And have applauded her since.  A lot of people applauded her in real time.  What she did was historic.

Which is why she really doesn't need to mess with the truth about what she did.

However, on this special, she  doesn't just want to amuse you, she wants to awaken you.  And that's fine and there are pretty words along the way, such as here:

That time after I came out really was the hardest period of my life.  It was.  But it was the best part of my journey because it's when I realized how strong I was.  It's when I learned compassion.  It's when I learned that the truth would always win. And-and that's when you grow -- when -- Like everyone has a fear, everyone's scared of something but it's not until you face that fear head on that you realize your power and that's when you grow.

First, facing that fear is important but you don't need to make it worse than it was.  That's not going to help anyone.  Ellen came out.  The next fall, ABC tacked a warning label on her show that might as well have said "Beware Lesbian!" but even with that warning, the show still did well in the ratings.  ABC renewed shows with lower ratings than ELLEN's ratings.  That's a part of the story.  Ellen might try telling that part because a lot of people stuck with her, a lot of people cheered her on.

Second, she said, "The truth would always win."

Well, no, not in the special, not in "Ask Ellen," the nine minute special that follows her stand-up special where she takes questions from the audience that attended the taping.

She said she was off TV for three years because she came out.

It's not true.

Kelly Wynne (NEWSWEEK) raves over the special and runs with Ellen's lie, "DeGeneres explains it took her three years to get her career back after the backlash she faced."

So Ellen lies and the media -- without bothering to even examine the claim -- runs with the lie and suddenly the takeaway is: Come out and suffer, you'll be off TV for three years, you'll be out of work.

That's not what happened.

And then, in the special, Ellen made it even worse.  She singled out Laura Dern (we know Laura) who was in the audience and insisted that Laura playing her --

Her what?

Ellen said her "love interest."

Object of affection would be a better term for what Laura played.  There's a myth that they kissed (they didn't) or that Laura played her girlfriend (she didn't).  Lisa Darr played Ellen's girlfriend (and lover) for eight episodes (in the final season of ELLEN) and, no, playing the role did not harm Lisa's career, she's worked in television or film every year from 1998 to the present with the exception of 2010.

By contrast, Laura Dern played Susan on one episode of ELLEN, "The Puppy Episode," the coming out episode, which was an hour long.  Ellen (her character's name in ELLEN) meets Susan when Ellen goes to dinner with an old boyfriend.  She goes back to the hotel with the old boyfriend who makes a pass and Ellen leaves.  She bumps into Susan at the hotel and goes to Susan's room.  Susan tells Ellen that she's gay and she thinks Ellen is.  Offended, Ellen leaves the hotel.  She gets on the couch with Dr. Oprah Winfrey and realizes she's attracted to Susan.  Ellen rushes to the airport to tell Susan and ends up announcing she's gay on the P.A. system.  Though Susan is actually not leaving town, Ellen doesn't go out with her.  Instead, Ellen then goes home and has her friends over to tell them she's gay.  Susan and Ellen are at the bookstore the next day and Susan, seeing that Audrey and Joe think she and Ellen are a couple, explains to Ellen, "I'm in a relationship."

Ellen insists on the special (in the "Ask Ellen" part), "So Laura, as you know, played my love interest on the show and even though she's straight, after she was on my show, she didn't get work for like a year, two years?  Just because she was my love interest on the show."


Because after that 1997 episode of ELLEN, Laura went on to do THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW and the telefilm THE BABY DANCE in 1998, 1999 saw the release of her film OCTOBER SKY, 2000 found her in Robert Altman's DR.T AND THE WOMEN, 2001 saw her in I AM SAM, JURASSIC PARK III, FOCUS and DADDY AND THEM and the telefilm WITHIN THESE WALLS -- exactly what year -- or two -- in there was Laura unable to get a job?

Ellen's preaching scare tactics and also telling lies.

And she's doing that while insisting, in the same special, "It was more important to me to be proud of myself and live my truth."

And, here's what's really pissing us off, she was depressed for months, she didn't know how she'd get out of it -- Yeah, Ellen, we've heard the story before.

What we don't hear now really pisses us off.

One of the biggest pieces of crap in the entertainment world is James Taylor.  James is the subject of Carly Simon's "You're So Vain."  Sorry, Carly, this is an article about truth, so we'll tell it.  As she noted in the joint-ROLLING STONE INTERVIEW with James after they got married, James took a two-seater plane to Nova Scotia.  And in her opera ROMULUS HUNT: A FAMILY OPERA, the divorced dad shows up quoting "You're So Vain," "I walked into . . ."  Equally true, "Just Like A Train" is one of Joni Mitchell's many songs about James and, in it, she sings, "Imagining all the fun I'll have watching your hairline recede my vain darling."  James is so vain.

And he needs to get over it and get over his hatred of Carly.  They were married for many years, they wrote songs together, they sang songs together, they raised children together.

But pRick James won't speak of Carly.  He won't acknowledge her existence in interviews.  He tells his friends not to mention her either.  They're all going to pretend that she never existed.

Once upon a time you swore you'd love me 
'Til the end of the world 
Now, nowhere is far enough away for you 
I must be quite a girl 
Quite a girl 
La la la la la la la 
Halfway 'round the world
-- "Halfway 'Round The World," written by Carly Simon, first appears on her LETTERS NEVER SENT

We're glad that Carly's able to turn it into art -- we applaud her for it.

But that doesn't excuse what James has done and is doing.

And nothing excuse this pig-boy behavior when Melissa Etheridge does it.  In fact, we're sick of 'manly' and deadbeat dad Melissa.  She has used one woman after another and then discarded the woman and pretended she never existed.  What she  did to Tammy Lynn Michaels was disgusting and any man who'd done that to the mother of his children would have a hard time getting work.

Piggish behavior in men or women needs to be called out.

Ellen, we're calling you out.

Anne Heche sacrificed a lot.  She came out the day after she signed to make the romantic comedy with Harrison Ford and it effected her career.  She should have been a leading lady and, if she'd hid her relationship with Ellen, she could have been.  Anne has talent and is good looking.  She'd been moving up the ladder in movie after movie.  But she told the truth and it cost her.

And she was Ellen's partner.  Remember IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK II?

In 1996, Anne Heche starred with Jada Pinkett in the Cher directed segment of HBO's IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK.  In 2000, Ellen starred in IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK II -- in the third segment with Sharon Stone -- in the third segment, the one Anne Heche wrote, the one Anne Heche directed, the one Anne Heche cast her in.

If this two year period was so awful and so hideous and it was so great to be back on TV (do you not exist if you're not on TV, Ellen?), then she should sing Anne's praises.

And maybe when Ellen's telling about how awful that time was for her, she can stop being a pig long enough to note that she was lucky to have Anne by her side.  That is reality because as bad as it was for Ellen, it would have been even worse without Anne.

Ellen's agent, manager and publicist didn't stand up to the ABC execs -- it was Anne who did.

So maybe stop being such a little s**t, Ellen, and give a little praise for what someone did for you.

She can't stop mentioning Portia -- or showing photos of her -- the stand-up tries to be mixed media (and fails).  We're glad you're happy, Ellen, but stop acting like one of the men in FIRST WIVES CLUB because it's outrageous and unbecoming.

Another thing, watching the special, we had to wonder was about how women present themselves on TV.

Ellen is angry.  She has rage in her eyes in the "Ask Ellen" part when a woman says she feels like she knows Ellen because she's watched her so long on TV and asks Ellen, "What would you like to know about me?"


And it's there in the special as well (and it holds the audience at a distance as she brags on herself and her life repeatedly while pretending she's joking): the greed, the anger, the rage.

Ellen's made noises about leaving her daytime talk show -- apparently because it's so hard to be nice.

She talks a lot about the talk show in the stand-up.  They didn't think a lesbian could be a hit in daytime.  They didn't like what she wore and gave her a makeover before they started taping the show.  She had to wear necklaces, on and on.  And the producer had her give stuff away. "I got a TV from the gay lady! I sure do like her!"

It reminded us of Rosie O'Donnell.

First off, Rosie was successful on THE VIEW the first go round.  And she was out at that time.

It was a different Rosie than the persona of her long running and successful THE ROSIE O'DONNELL SHOW.  Back then, she was in the closet.  And she gave things away.  And she smiled a lot and was always happy and nice.

Then she came out and let her anger rip.  We're not griping about that.  Rosie angry can get a lot accomplished and can cut through a lot of the crap.  But Ellen basically stole Rosie's act -- the act that Rosie tossed aside and discarded.  And that's apparently eating at Ellen.  It's very frustrating to watch RELATABLE and see this angry Ellen peeking out but never emerging.  That's not truth, that's dishonesty -- and hiding all that anger and rage?  Talk about being in the closet.

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