In addition to being dubbed the “meanest” person alive on social media, people are now accusing Ellen DeGeneres of bullying her fellow celebrities. While accusations of a toxic work environment for low-level employees have been plaguing The Ellen Show host for a few months now, it seems that it’s not just the people behind the scenes who had a bad experience on the show. Looking back, there have been several awkward moments between DeGeneres and her famous guests, including an interaction with Mariah Carey, which the diva recently referred to as “extremely uncomfortable.”
Glitter star Mariah Carey visited The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2008. At the time, rumors were swirling that Carey and her then-husband Nick Cannon were expecting their first child. DeGeneres, seemingly determined to score a pregnancy announcement on her show, tried to pressure Carey into admitting to being pregnant. In order to really put the pressure on, DeGeneres brought out a glass of champagne for Carey and insisted the songstress take a sip.
Carey politely refused, citing various reasons she shouldn’t, before finally taking the glass and pretending to sip. DeGeneres, obviously triumphant, then cheered and declared that this was proof that Carey was expecting. Carey was in fact pregnant at that time, but she was in no way ready to share that news yet. Soon afterward, Carey miscarried, though obviously this was in no way DeGeneres’ fault, but it’s a very good reason why no one should ever force or pressure a pregnant woman to discuss her pregnancy before she’s ready.
Though Carey kept mum about her feelings about that situation for years, with the upcoming release of her memoir, she recently spoke with Vulture about the experience. “I was extremely uncomfortable with that moment is all I can say. And I really have had a hard time grappling with the aftermath,” she explained. “I wasn’t ready to tell anyone because I had had a miscarriage.” Considering all the hot water DeGeneres is already in at the moment, Carey went on to say, “I don’t want to throw anyone that’s already being thrown under any proverbial bus, but I didn’t enjoy that moment.” Carey added that there is “an empathy that can be applied to those moments that I would have liked to have been implemented. But what am I supposed to do? It’s like, [singing] ‘What are you going to do?’”
Carey eventually returned to the show in 2010 after announcing she was once again pregnant, a pregnancy that resulted in her twins, Monroe and Morocco. That visit seemed to be a much easier time for Carey, and whatever hard feelings Carey felt towards DeGeneres for the earlier, uncomfortable moment had apparently subsided. It wasn’t the last time DeGeneres tried to pry into the personal life of her guests.
In 2014, Jamie Foxx, Andrew Garfield, and Emma Stone came on to The Ellen Show to promote their film The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Stone and Garfield played love interests in the superhero flick and the two’s onscreen chemistry fueled rumors that they were dating. As it turns out, they were, and had been for a while, but had been keeping a very tight lid on the relationship.
For almost a solid minute, DeGeneres not-so-subtly prodded the couple to reveal that the real reason behind their chemistry on the big screen was because of their romantic relationship. Though Foxx gamely tried to run interference, DeGeneres kept at it until Garfield firmly told her to “drop it.” Even then, DeGeneres shot the two a knowing look, which caused them both to burst into laughter, defusing what could have been a tense moment.
Frequent guest Taylor Swift had two very awkward moments on the show as well. The first instance noted by fans was in 2012. At the time (and honestly even now), Swift had a reputation for dating a lot of different, very famous guys. Ellen DeGeneres decided to tease Swift about that reputation and suggested that the two play a game where DeGeneres would show a picture of a man on the screen and Swift would ring a bell to signify if they’d dated or not.
Swift said multiple times that she didn’t want to play the game and when DeGeneres began anyway, Swift said, “Stop it,” while appearing to be on the verge of tears. Who knows if this was all just a goofy bit that both Swift and DeGeneres were in on, but many fans decried the moment, saying that DeGeneres had engaged in bullying. The second awkward moment came several years later.
Swift was once again a guest on the show and was participating in the Burning Questions segment. After being asked about what she did when she couldn't sleep at night, Swift answered that she’d go down and raid the fridge. When questioned a bit further by DeGeneres, Swift admits that the behavior isn’t “exactly voluntary,” to which DeGeneres responds, “It sounds like you’ve got an issue.”
Early this year, in her Netflix documentary Miss Americana, Swift revealed that she’d suffered from an eating disorder. This is absolutely not an indictment against DeGeneres, who likely had no idea what Swift was going through at the time, but it is an example of why the talk show host’s innocent-seeming, but deeply intrusive, questions can make her guests uncomfortable.
Ellen DeGeneres doesn’t just have awkward moments with the Hollywood giants that visit her show. There have been some awkward moments with her international guests as well. For instance, DeGeneres once welcomed child ukulele prodigy Feng E to her show. The Taiwanese boy had a translator come along with him to ease communications between him and DeGeneres.
The talk show host appeared to be somewhat rude to the translator, though it’s also quite possible that she was just joking with the young lady. Once, DeGeneres seemingly scolded the woman because she’d spoken for longer than DeGeneres thought was necessary. Then, when the woman referred to an acoustic guitar as a “finger-style” guitar, DeGeneres once again seemingly scolded her for not asking Feng E to be more specific. It should be noted that the woman laughed throughout the conversation and that DeGeneres was also smiling, which could indicate that she was only joking, but it was an encounter that left some with a bad taste in their mouths.
Likewise, some viewers, especially K-pop fans, were offended after Ellen DeGeneres invited “Gangnam Style” singer Psy to the show to teach Britney Spears how to do his viral dance. At one point in the video, Psy stops the lesson to introduce himself to the audience, which DeGeneres had seemingly forgotten to do. Some viewers were also upset that Simon Cowell, who was a guest on the show as well, didn’t stand up to greet the Korean rapper.
Clearly, some of these incidents were attempts at humor by DeGeneres, but just because someone is trying to be funny or entertaining doesn’t mean that they are exempt from criticism or accusations of rudeness. It does sometimes feel as if DeGeneres, in an attempt to get the scoop on celebrity gossip, goes a little too far at times. This in no way means DeGeneres is the cold-hearted, cruel monster that she’s made out to be in the tabloids, but there does seem to be some room for improvement. DeGeneres appears ready to make changes to ensure everyone who works on her show feels as if they’re in a safe environment, now she just needs to make sure her guests feel the same way.