After DeGeneres’s borderline “cancellation” this summer, which saw numerous allegations of workplace bullying surface, it’s hard to recall that not that long ago people were shocked by the footage.
For those who don’t remember, the exchange involved DeGeneres questioning Johnson about her 30th birthday party, and claiming she wasn’t invited.
Johnson responded calmly, saying: “Actually, that’s not the truth Ellen. You were invited.”
She explains that the last time she was on the show, DeGeneres brought up not having been invited to her party. Johnson said that she didn’t even know that DeGeneres liked her, let alone that she was expecting an invitation. So this time around, she did indeed invite DeGeneres, who didn’t attend.
DeGeneres seems flummoxed, saying “You did invite me? Are you sure?” to which Johnson responds with a tone of certainty: “Yeah. Ask everybody,” and waves a finger around the studio.
DeGeneres then bizarrely asks: “Why didn’t I go?” At that point the fourth wall comes tumbling down as the camera pans over to a producer who says “you were out of town”, and DeGeneres answers her own question: “Oh yeah, I had that thing… It was probably in Malibu, that’s too far for me to go to.”
While the live audience laughed at the exchange, it quickly went viral, with social media users criticising DeGeneres’s attitude and thinking it was unfair to expect an invite from Johnson, let alone put her on the spot on live TV.
It got worse when eagle eyed fans realised that the day after Johnson’s birthday party coincided with DeGeneres being spotted hanging out with George W Bush at a football game, which caused its own controversy as DeGeneres was accused of hypocrisy based on Bush’s politics seeming to be at odds with her ideology.
As the anniversary rolled around on Friday, people were quick to praise Johnson. In the aftermath of all the Ellen allegations, it seems her attitude was more appreciated than ever.
Lots of people suggested that the moment was the “beginning of the end” for DeGeneres. While this may not strictly be true (there had long been murmurings about her perceived transgressions), it certainly did mark two of DeGeneres’s most high-profile controversies.
Johnson meanwhile, has gone on to become one of the most beloved celebrities in popular culture. There are a number of reasons for that, but the impact of the Ellen moment cannot be overlooked.