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The Real Ellen Scandal

Ellen Degeneres is in hot water again, and, no, it’s not over a damn dog. The Writer’s Guild of America East (WGAE) is fuming over her decision to continue airing her show despite the current writer’s strike. According to one source Ellen is the only top rating comedy/variety show host to continue airing. Other comedy/variety hosts such as Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien refused to cross the picket line.

In other words, Degeneres is a scab. Even worse, WGAE accuses Degeneres of doing “struck work” because she is doing comedy on her variety show (which is, of course, the job of the writers of her show).

WGAE put it very well when it said:
We find it sad that Ellen spent an entire week crying and fighting for a dog that she gave away, yet she couldn't even stand by writers for more than one day - writers who have helped make her extremely successful.

In fact, the WGAE threatened to protest two tapings of Degeneres’ show in New York, which she then cancelled. You would think this would be big news for the gay media, which followed Degeneres’ doggy drama. But mainstream gay media outlets couldn’t be bothered by this story, which involves a lesbian in the position of an oppressor.

Degeneres’ decision to scab and the gay media’s seeming lack of concern with the story, highlights the importance of class analysis in queer politics. It raises several questions: What does it mean for queer people when a lesbian, who has undeniably suffered because of her sexual orientation, is in a position to exploit people (including other queer people)? What kind of solidarity should we feel with Degeneres and other gay and lesbian exploiters when they stand against the interests of many of our other queer brothers and sisters?


praenomenal said...

I am a unionist by nature, however, I think it is wrong to go after someone because they choose not to strike. She has a whole lot of people, not just writers, who work on the show who would be out of work. She made her choice. None of my business.

alex said...

interesting post, brian. thanks for bringing this to our attention.

Matthew said...

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists late Friday stuck up for member Ellen DeGeneres after the Writers Guild of America East issued a press release chastising the daytime talk-show host and WGA member for working during the writers' strike.

“As you know, AFTRA members such as Ms. DeGeneres who are working under the AFTRA Network TV Code (which covers The Ellen DeGeneres Show) are legally required by the no-strike clause of that contract to report to work and perform their AFTRA-covered responsibilities,” wrote AFTRA national executive director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth in a letter addressed to Mona Mangan, WGAE’s executive director. “Ms. DeGeneres, along with thousands of entertainment-industry workers represented by AFTRA and other unions who are bound by similar no-strike clauses, are also reporting to work as legally required.”