Being a culture-warrior must be exhausting

Ellen DeGeneres is very funny. She’s also endearingly self-deprecating, kind, honest and just sort of all-around adorable.

Hiring her as a spokesperson is thus a smart move for JCPenney. And trying to whip up a culture-war tempest over that hiring is a really, really dumb move for the American Family Association.

I’ll link to the E!-News story on this, because that seems appropriate — “JCPenney Hires Ellen DeGeneres, Gets Heat From Anti-Gay Group“:

Ellen DeGeneres has won 16 Daytime Emmys and seven People’s Choice Awards, and is a TV and print spokeswoman for CoverGirl and American Express.

So no one batted an eye when she added JCPenney to her résumé, right?

Wrong, believe it or not.

“By jumping on the pro-gay bandwagon, JCPenney is attempting to gain a new target market and in the process will lose customers with traditional values that have been faithful to them over all these years,” read a statement from the American Family Associations’ One Million Moms, a conservative group that, per its website, seeks to abolish “the immorality, violence, vulgarity and profanity the entertainment media is throwing at your children.”

Well, none of the million should hold her breath, because JCPenney is standing strong behind DeGeneres.

Of course they are. Because JCPenney knows that “One Million Moms” doesn’t represent anything close to a million people. And they know that, regardless of the AFA’s bloviating, even most of the AFA’s fervent culture-war constituency still likes Ellen. Everybody pretty much does. Either they like her, or they don’t care one way or another, but trying to make her the frightening face of “immorality, vulgarity and profanity” just won’t work.

The culture war is fueled by fear and indignation. The fear is sometimes sincere, albeit misguided, but the indignation never is. The indignation has to be created.

Veterans of the culture war have worked for a long time to hone their ability to cultivate their fears and to conjure up indignation at the slightest pretense, but they still need something to work with. No matter how skilled you’ve become at terrifying yourself with imaginary bogeymen, it’s not going to be easy to imagine that Ellen DeGeneres is menacing. And even those who are capable of whipping themselves into an offended huff over any imagined sleight will have a hard time convincing even themselves that she’s a suitable pretext for striking the requisite pose of horrified indignation.

The AFA’s alarmist alert will arrive in the inboxes of the tens of thousands of voluntarily unhappy folks who subscribe to their “One Million Moms” list, the same inboxes in which they received and from which they forwarded that funny video of Ellen in her Hawaii Chair, and they won’t be able to follow the marching orders. The generals of the culture war will tell them to be offended and outraged and to declare, “That’s it! I’m never shopping at JCPenney again!” But instead they’ll think, “Oh, goodness, it’s almost three o’clock. I’ll read this later after Ellen.”

And then they’ll remind themselves to set the DVR because next week she’s going to have Sophia Grace and Rosie on again and those girls are just so sweet. …

See also: Timothy Kincaid: “AFA’s One Million Moms demonstrate real bigotry

  • Persia

    Damn, just when I’d been boycotting JC Penney for completely different reasons (their actions after the Irene flood), I have to start buying from them again?

    Maybe I’ll wait and see if they hire Portia too.

  • Rob Brown

    Oh fergawdsake…

    Right, because when somebody mentions profanity and vulgarity the first person I always think of is Ellen DeGeneres.

  • patter

    Susan G. Komen just changed their minds; turns out Planned Parenthood isn’t Satan Incarnate after all.

    Probably Ellen isn’t either.

  • Ken

    JCPenney Hires Ellen DeGeneres, Gets Heat From Anti-Gay Group

    More like “JCPenney Hires Ellen DeGeneres, Gets Free Publicity From Anti-Gay Group.”  These things have a way of backfiring; IIRC, “Married: With Children” was on the verge of cancellation in its first season, then someone started complaining about its vulgarity and the show kept going for years.

     

  • Anonymous

    A friend posted on Facebook this link of a pastor calling for Christians to boycott Starbucks because the company supports gay rights.  Aside from the fact that calling for Christians to boycott Starbucks would be almost as big a failure as the call (several years ago) for Christians to boycott Disneyland, I responded…

    Pastor: Better boycott Disney & ABC & ESPN & AAA & Coca-Cola & Dell & Levi Strauss & UPS & Kraft & Ford & Coors & Cisco & Apple & AmEx and hundreds of other companies while you’re at it.

    My friend and several of her other friends planned to visit Starbucks for some coffee today in response to the boycott call.

  • Alexa

    I’m on the AFA mailing list because I once decided to skew one of their anti-gay polls, and I just got one from them insisting I get outraged because of the new “pro-abortion” insurance guidelines. Of course, the body of the email referred only to the new requirement that all insurance carriers cover contraception and sterilization. I know that they keep trying to convince everyone that the Pill/Plan B are abortificents, but just like how plenty of their “One Million Moms” likely love Ellen, there’s a 99% chance that those same Moms have used contraception in their lives. They’ve got nothing, and they know it.

  • Anonymous

    I was going to write up a huge post lamenting the fact that these family focus constitution freedom common sense values fuckers even think that way anymore, but eh. Little sense getting worked up if there’s not a ton that you can do, in the immediate sense, to fix that. Sun shines, grass grows, birds fly, and brother, conservatives want to keep hurting the people they’ve been hurting for many, many generations.

    I’ll just be happy that JCPenny held to being decent in the face of bigotry, and share your hope that the fundamental humanity of the Million Mom members and mailing lists and stuff will undercut the crap.

  • http://scientistcarrie.blogspot.com/ snowmentality

    1997 called. It wants its Ellen DeGeneres controversy back.

    I realize that Newt Gingrich is back in the news, so maybe the American Family Association got confused about what decade it was. But seriously. We did this “ZOMG Ellen DeGeneres is gay!!1″ thing 15 years ago. Everyone is over it now. Her wedding photos were in Parade magazine, of all middle-of-the-road, middle-America things, alongside a fluffy, feel-good interview discussing how she and her wife sit around watching TV and go antiquing on the weekends.

    It really must be exhausting to keep trying to whip people up about the same thing for 15 years.

  • Albanaeon

    Remember kids, appearing in public while gay is just like cursing on prime time, showing someone’s brains getting blown out, and all other sorts of nastiness we supposedly get up in arms about, but really only care about anything that doesn’t support our cultural dominance.- the AFA.

    Gods, these people are terrible.

  • Anonymous

    Komen caved. Or did it?

    As some were quick to point out, the statement put out by Komen doesn’t really clarify whether Planned Parenthood will actually continue to get money from the group. The original rationale for barring Planned Parenthood was that it was under investigation (a witch-hunt probe undertaken by GOP Rep Cliff Stearns). Komen said today that the group would “amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political.”

    Does that mean Planned Parenthood will get Komen grants in the future?

    I asked Komen board member John Raffaelli to respond to those who are now saying that the announcement doesn’t necessarily constitute a reversal until Planned Parenthood actually sees more funding. He insisted it would be unfair to expect the group to commit to future grants…

    Greg Sargent
    WashingtonPost.com

  • Anonymous

    Don’t try this “culture warrior” stuff at home.  It takes years and years of practice to regard Ellen DeGeneres as immoral, violent, vulgar, and profane enough to be ousted as a spokesperson for J.C. Penney without the cognitive dissonance causing your head to explode.

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    I just got one from them insisting I get outraged because of the new
    “pro-abortion” insurance guidelines. Of course, the body of the email
    referred only to the new requirement that all insurance carriers cover
    contraception and sterilization. I know that they keep trying to
    convince everyone that the Pill/Plan B are abortificents

    For anti-choicers, “abortion” no longer means the termination of a pregnancy. It means any reproductive healthcare that benefits women (especially sexually active women). It seems to be a little mind-game they’re playing with their voting base – first gin up all this outrage and scaremongering over abortion, and then, over years and decades, start letting the definition of “abortion” slip and expand, until you can refer to the Pill as “abortion” and your voting base doesn’t bat an eyelash. And now they’re just as angry at the pill as they are at Roe v Wade. Mission accomplished.

  • Anonymous

    In a way it’s good they did this, because it’s finally imploding the last of their credibility. It’s one thing to clutch your pearls over leather bars (which are nothing wrong and absolutely none of your damn business) but Ellen? The nice lady who has little kids from YouTube viral videos on? It makes it crystal clear there is absolutely nothing to do with family or values, just pure burning hatred. And most people get turned off rather quickly by that kind of naked bigotry and hate.

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

    Does it bother them that their fight against “violence” and “vulgarity” is so violent and vulgar?

  • Anonymous

    It takes years and years of practice to regard Ellen DeGeneres as immoral, violent, vulgar, and profane…

    Yeah, but “Ellen DeGeneres” makes for a better pun than, say, “Sampson.” Won’t someone think of the puns? 

  • Anonymous

    Has the AFA ever had a successful boycott? Certainly not in a long while. Companies are much, much more scared of angering the gay people than groups like AFA. Just look at the Target flareup a few years ago.

  • Lori

     
    “By jumping on the pro-gay bandwagon, JCPenney is attempting to gain a new target market   

     

    This is some hardcore stupid. Who exactly does the AFA think watches Ellen’s show? Her audience is not a new target market for JC Penney, it’s pretty much the core of their business. Penney’s is just trying to get those people back into their stores. 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Ellen? Ellen? That Ellen?

    Eeeeeeeeeesh!

    I’ve watched a bunch of her stuff over the last few days and she’s invariably hilarious and yet sensitive to the people she interviews. Contrast Regis all but feeling up Nicki Minaj to Ellen asking her questions about, y’know, her MUSIC.

    Hell, just watching her two convocation addresses at Tulane ought to be proof enough that Ellen is amazing. X-D

  • Michael Pullmann

    Ellen DeGeneres is like a cool aunt for the entire country. Nobody’s going to sympathize with the people who are taking shots at their cool aunt.

  • Anonymous

    It takes years and years of practice to regard Ellen DeGeneres as immoral, violent, vulgar, and profane enough to be ousted as a spokesperson for J.C. Penney without the cognitive dissonance causing your head to explode.

    You have to start small.  Practice getting mad at Murphy Brown all over again a few times, then go from there.

  • Anonymous

    JCPenney…will lose customers with traditional values that have been faithful to
    them over all these years

    You mean the largely elderly and dying demographic?  However will JC Penny recover that loss?  If only there were other, successor generations that might approve of hiring someone like DeGeneres…

    Oh, wait.

  • http://redwoodr.tumblr.com Redwood Rhiadra

    Actually, SGK didn’t. They said that (a) existing grants will not be cut off, which isn’t actually a change from their previous position, and (b) Planned Parenthood can apply for new grants, but may not get them (i.e. will not under their new “not under investigation” policy, as there is no chance the GOP will *stop* trumping up charges against PP.)

    So no change from yesterday’s position – they’re just hiding it under nicer-sounding language.

  • Anonymous

    Just wait until the AFA finds out that Eddie Izzard is the new spokesman for Garanimals:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYcnEonB04E

    ;)

  • Brandi

    Susan G. Komen just changed their minds; turns out Planned Parenthood isn’t Satan Incarnate after all.

    Maybe not. The statement notes that the Foundation is not cutting off *current* grants to PP but PP might not be eligible for future grants.

  • Amanda

    That Hawaii Chair thing made me LOL.

    Did you see when she had the Shake Weight? My favorite part was when she went, “Wow, this feels like its working muscles I’ve never used before!”

    That’s really the MOST vulgar Ellen ever gets. Not exactly South Park here.

    I remember waaaay back in the 90′s when Ellen first came out of the closet, and my grandmother ranting over Thanksgiving dinner over how “absolutely disgusting” she and all these other homosexuals on TV are. (Same grandmother who used to complain that you couldn’t watch a single show on TV anymore without seeing a “colored person” on.)

    So I guess this proves that LBGT people are incapable of being G-rated, at least according to some people like the AFA and my grandmother.

    (That just made me think… has Ellen ever been on Sesame Street? That would be awesome.)

  • Anonymous
  • Will Hennessy

    Seriously, Ellen is about as far from menacing as a person can be. Not to mention her comedy is absolutely hilarious and universal enough not to be just a bunch of “My (female anatomy)” jokes. Her bit about the packaging on batteries versus light bulbs? Hysterical. Find me a Christian “comedian” who’s that funny.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I don’t know. Ellen is hilarious, sweet and attractive. I have a little bit of a crush on her, and I’m a straight chick. So maybe she really is the leader of the latest stealth campaign to recruit decent people to the gay.

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    I personally find DeGeneres a tad too precious to be laugh out loud funny. Though I guess that’s all the more reason why attempts to paint her as screamingly offensive are obvious horseshit. Ellen has been has been a part of the American mainstream for nearly twenty years now, living proof that lesbians are prone to being just as tame domestic and boring as everyone else. Those who would seek to deny the reality of that have missed the boat by a full quarter of a lifetime. Exhausting indeed. In the same way that the obnoxious loudmouth at work never gets the hint that you don’t want to talk to him.  

  • Anonymous

    J. C. Penney didn’t get where they are without being able to do the math.  Ellen DeGeneres has 2.5 to 3 million viewers per episode, so even if these folks really do have one million moms, the numbers are still with DeGeneres.

  • http://www.quirkyknitgirl.com/ Stephanie Ivy

    Y’know, that’s almost enough to make me want to dump by buy indie/local stance and shop at JC Penny. Almost. 

  • http://willbikeforchange.wordpress.com/ storiteller

    The only thing I would ever get offended at Ellen about is the fact that she appeared in the Universe at Energy in Disney when it was still being sponsored by Exxon-Mobile.  But she’s too damn adorkable in that too.  And it has Bill Nye!

  • FangsFirst

     

    And it has Bill Nye!

    Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only person outside Seattle who, as a kid, was going “Oh man! the dude from Almost Live!” when his science show started. And still thinks of Speed Walker before “The Science Guy”…

  • LunaticFringe

    “Sun shines, grass grows, birds fly, and brother, conservatives want to
    keep hurting the people they’ve been hurting for many, many generations.”

    Entire reactionary mailing list is babies!

  • Anonymous

    Ah, the good old pro-gay bandwagon. I imagine it painted to a glittery purple finish, rolling along with rainbow flags fluttering in the breeze, its happy occupants laughing, singing and blowing raspberries at passing Republicans and Fundies.

  • Lori

    I see you’ve been to the San Francisco Pride parade :)

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only person outside Seattle who, as a kid, was going “Oh man! the dude from Almost Live!” when his science show started. And still thinks of Speed Walker before “The Science Guy”…

    I think the same thing about David Scully when I hear Sgt. Johnson talk in Halo

    And for those unfamiliar with this awesome super hero, Speed Walker!

  • Anonymous

    No, I just asked if they were going anywhere near Sainsburys and they gave me a lift. Nice people.

  • ACultureWarrior

    Little Timmy has to learn to spell better:  It’s “Degenerate” not Degeneres.


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