More harm than good can come from Ellen’s late show
With fame comes power. And Ellen DeGeneres, for whom there are no records to show she has ever visited these isles or ever intends to, has abused that power by attempting to sway the minds and hearts of her 77.1 million Twitter followers into boycotting Bermuda for its passing of the Domestic Partnership Act into legislation.
You can’t miss what you never had. And that is what makes Ellen’s infamous tweet so disingenuous: “Bermuda just banned marriage equality. I guess I’m cancelling my trip. Anybody else?”
While it helps to alienate those who have hardly heard of Bermuda and strengthen the resolve of those who have, and who are sympathetic to the desires of the LGBTQ community to have same-sex marriage legalised in Bermuda, the revelation this late in the day of her planned trip drips with thick “fake news” invective.
The Bermuda legislature debated and passed the Act through committee in December and in the almost two months to February 6, many column inches were devoted to same-sex marriage — in these pages and in international media.
No sign of Ellen.
Then the Governor, John Rankin, upon advice/instruction from British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, gave Royal Assent to the Act, kicking off another media storm here and abroad.
Still, no sign of Ellen.
But now, a full month after the official passage of the legislation and in the wake of the Bermuda Government making a form of climbdown by extending the waiting period for the Act to come into effect, the iconic comedy talk-show host decides she wants belatedly to join the #BoycottBermuda brigade.
Where has she been while Tony Brannon et al have been scouring the globe for personalities to pressure Bermuda economically or otherwise into joining the world’s 27 “right-thinking” countries by accepting same-sex marriage?
With 77.1 million Twitter followers, of whom she follows almost 36,000, you would imagine news of Bermuda would have passed through her feeds on more than a few occasions since December. But not a peep out of her. Until now.
Not until Rod Ferguson’s op-ed in The Huffington Post that highlighted his upcoming Supreme Court appeal, and which we proactively republished in these pages, did arguably the world’s most famous gay woman identify the pulse of a debate that has been raging in this country since the Bermuda Bred case in late 2014.
Given that she linked the CrowdJustice case to her tweet, maybe she could have brought her undeniable wealth to bear and footed what is expected to be at least a $250,000 legal bill.
Or maybe she could have pleaded with her 77.1 million followers to donate a mere $1 to the cause, with the $76.76 million left over to go to a charity of her choosing.
Or she could have coerced the 23,000 who “liked” her tweet — the 3 per cent follow-through a more accurate take on her real reach when poking fun at our expense — to part with a fraction more than $10 each.
Now that would be using your influence for good. But with a net worth of $360 million, she has done neither, electing instead to make Bermuda the punchline of yesterday’s Twitter joke of the day while advertising the simplistic boycott route as a remedy to our parliamentary folly — a move that makes her no more novel than the few on her thread who responded merely with “F**k U Bermuda”.
An easy sell that is disappointing and damaging in equal measure — to those in Bermuda who are for and against same-sex marriage, and even the many who are on the fence and could do with being educated on the topic.
Tourism minister Jamahl Simmons invited ridicule when he said in Parliament that Bermuda would be targeting the pink dollar. So soon after access to same-sex marriage was blocked, it was not the cleverest thing to do — even in the House of Assembly, where privilege exists only for legal reasons but does not preclude copious helpings of deserved condemnation.
The hypocrisy of it has been noted and it will take all the ingenuity of the Bermuda Tourism Authority to right that particular ship.
But Ellen DeGeneres does not get that right. In fact, she has as much right to determine Bermuda’s prospects as does Boris Johnson.
Both comedians in their own right, neither of whom has set foot on this island.
At least Boris knew to leave well enough alone.