On typical Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I usually go straight from Politics class to the SUB cafeteria and watch The Ellen DeGeneres Show as I eat a grapefruit. Since its debut in 2003, the show has become very popular, and includes jokes and gags, celebrity appearances and audience participation. Ellen almost always starts her show with a dance segment, a witty monologue, and a chit-chat with the DJ. The show and Ellen herself are both funny and entertaining. I can’t see why anyone would have a problem with her.
But unfortunately, One Million Moms (OMM), an activist group against negative influences from society on children, is in great distress over Ellen regarding her new role in JC Penney commercials, which first aired during the Oscars in late February. The commercials feature Ellen shopping in different periods in time, including Ancient Rome, the Old West and Victorian England.
OMM’s official purpose is to end child exploitation from the media, including profanity, immortality, violence and vulgarity in TV commercials, movies and music, to name a few. The group argues that fighting against such exploitations is highly necessary in order to preserve a moral society for our children.
Now this sounds like a good cause, and I can definitely see their reasons for existing, but their recent complains have been nothing but ignorant. OMM believes that hiring Ellen as an “openly homosexual spokesperson” is essentially a joke, and will cause JCP’s business to plummet since most of their current customers are primarily traditional families who have been forever faithful to the department store. They complain that homosexual individuals make up only a small percent of their customer base overall. The group also accuses JCP of “jumping on the pro-gay bandwagon.” OMM’s webpage includes whiny details about the issue, complaining that JCP’s corporate customer services ignore their complaint calls, transfer them to voicemail or hang up on their demanding requests to replace Ellen with a more family-value oriented spokesperson and remain neutral in the culture war.
What we’re really dealing with is a lot of close-minded people with strong opinions and large mouths to voice them.
There are five new commercials, and not a single one of them shows any sign of homosexuality whatsoever. The chance of children being exploited by these commercials is extremely low. Most children probably don’t even know that Ellen is gay. I’d be surprised if they even knew what the word “homosexuality” means! The commercials are fun, amusing, and accurately represent the new changes JCP is trying to make.
Thankfully, JCP is holding their ground. The company stood firm on their decision to keep Ellen as their spokesperson because her values match those of the company. According to Ron Johnson, JC Penney’s CEO, the company was founded 110 years ago on the rule of treating people fairly.
Ellen responded herself by giving a monologue on one of her shows, saying, “Haters are my motivators.”
“First of all, being gay or pro-gay is not a bandwagon,” Ellen joked. “You don’t get a free ride anywhere, there’s no music, and occasionally we’ll sing ‘We Are Family’, but that’s about it.”
All in all, major props to JC Penney for doing the right thing, and to Ellen for being the strong, confident and ambitious individual she is.