Recently, and not for the first time, the comedians public persona has appeared to be at odds with her private actions

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Ellen wants everyone to ‘be kind’ – maybe she should rethink what that means

“Be kind” Ellen DeGeneres says at the end of every episode of her eponymous show. There’s a BE KIND Ellen hat. A BE KIND wine tote. A BE KIND subscription box. There are even BE KIND face masks – so you can try killing the coronavirus with kindness.

Shockingly, it seems that DeGeneres might not always practice what she preaches: crew members on her talkshow are reportedly furious over the not-so-kind way they’ve been treated during the coronavirus crisis. According to Variety, the core stage crew for the Ellen DeGeneres Show are frustrated that they haven’t received written communication about the status of their hours or pay. They were also less than thrilled to discover, via social media, that an outside, non-union, tech company had been hired to help DeGeneres film her show remotely from her home. This stung as DeGeneres had recently announced on-air that she wanted to start filming again as soon as possible so she could support her staff and crew.

DeGeneres isn’t personally responsible for every aspect of how her show is run, of course. But it certainly seems like a woman who is reportedly worth more than $330m and is one of the highest-paid stars on television, earning more than $50m a year, could be doing rather more to support the people who work under her. Particularly as many of her crew have worked on the show since it started 17 years ago. It’s worth noting that Jimmy Kimmel Live! stagehands, according to Variety, were paid from Kimmel’s own pocket during initial coronavirus shutdowns.

This isn’t exactly the first time that DeGeneres’s public persona has appeared to be at odds with her private actions. There have been rumors floating around for years that the 62-year-old comedian is – to quote a viral Twitter thread on the subject – “one of the meanest people alive”. Recently, however, anti-Ellen sentiment appears to have reached new heights. A couple of weeks ago she was slammed for comparing self-quarantining in her multimillion-dollar mansion to “being in jail”, for example. And Nikkie de Jagger, a Dutch YouTube star who goes by the name NikkieTutorials, has been in the headlines this week after sharing her unpleasant experience on the Ellen show. De Jagger told Dutch magazine &C that she wasn’t allowed to use the toilet nearest her on the show because it “was reserved for the Jonas brothers” and that DeGeneres was “cold and distant” when the cameras weren’t rolling. “I was expecting [the experience to be like] a Disney show, but got Teletubbies after dark.”

Why is DeGeneres suddenly getting so much backlash and bad press? Well, for one thing, coronavirus has made us all sick to death of celebrity shenanigans. It’s hard for stars to seem relatable when they’re moaning about their mansions.

More broadly, however, I think some of the animosity towards DeGeneres has to do with the way she exemplifies the hypocrisy around the concept of “civility”. Last year, for example, DeGeneres lectured us all on her friendship with George W Bush, a man who opposed same-sex marriage and whose own former counter-terrorism chief accused him of committing war crimes. “When I say, ‘Be kind to one another’, I don’t mean only the people who think the same way that you do,” DeGeneres said on her show, in response to criticism of her hobnobbing with Bush. “I mean be kind to everyone. Doesn’t matter.”

Actually, it’s a little bit more complicated than that. The notion of civility has been weaponized to shut down criticism and stop people from pointing out uncomfortable facts. It seems to be considered more unacceptable, in some parts of the media, to call someone a racist than to actually be a racist. It seems to be considered more unacceptable to criticize someone for hanging out with a war criminal than actually being a war criminal. “Be kind!” the 1% keep telling us, “don’t you dare be critical!”

I don’t want to completely slam DeGeneres. She’s done a lot of good in the world. It’s hard to overstate how brave it was for her to come out in 1997; her courage made life a lot easier for the next generation of queer people. According to a 2015 poll, Ellen did more to influence Americans’ attitudes about gay rights than any other celebrity or public figure. But if she wants to keep flogging merchandise with BE KIND on it, then she might want to start thinking a little harder about what those words actually mean. And I say that in the kindest possible way.

Domestic abuse killings more than double during coronavirus lockdown

Karen Ingala Smith, the founder of Counting Dead Women, a project that records the killing of women by men, has identified at least 16 suspected domestic abuse killings in the UK since the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions were imposed. The same period last year saw an average of five deaths. “The number of women killed by men over the first three weeks since lockdown is the highest it’s been for at least 11 years and is double that of an average 21 days over the last 10 years,” Smith said.

Why women read more fiction

In the UK, the US and Canada, women account for 80% of fiction sales. The Times Literary Supplement examines the “often not particularly complimentary feminization of all things bookish” in this review of Why Women Read Fiction: The stories of our lives.

The rules don’t apply to Ivanka Trump

“Those lucky enough to be in a position to stay at home, please, please do so,” the first daughter recently tweeted. Ivanka then flew from Washington DC to the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey to celebrate Passover.

Never ‘bake your heroes’

Laura Daniel, a New Zealand comedian, attempted to create Jacinda Ardern in cake form during a baking competition as a tribute to the prime minister. Let’s just say that the final result wasn’t exactly flattering. “Don’t bake your heroes,” Daniel advised.

Attraction to chandeliers not a sexual orientation

“A British woman in a long-term relationship with a 92-year-old German chandelier has been told that her attraction to historic light fittings is not considered to be a protected sexual orientation,” the Guardian reports. Some light relief in these dark times.

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