Good Celebrities Gone Bad
First let me say that I do not now, nor have I ever known Ellen Degeneres personally. Watching her from afar, she certainly seems like a genuine, sweet, compassionate person with a great sense of humor. And I know that she loves animals–that’s obvious.
So what exactly do you do when your favorite celebrity, who said she always wanted to work with animals, makes a commercial with a dozen or so live animals–including an elephant–on the set (or a mock set) of her show? She clearly doesn’t make the connection between respecting animals and using them for her own entertainment. Furthermore, in the making of the commercial, she unfortunately refers to the elephant as "it," which is one of my pet peeves (heh, heh). Referring to animals as things is yet another way we perpetuate their other-ness and make it easy to treat them "like animals."
I am going to write her, and I suggest you do too. Remember that this is a person who just isn’t thinking things through to their logical conclusions. She means no harm, and to harshly reprimand her would be unkind and ineffective.
Celebrities like Christina Ricci and Madonna, however, are another story. Theirs do not appear to be innocent cases of not thinking things through. In case you haven’t heard, Ricci was a fur-lover and even posed for a magazine cover wearing the skin of a reindeer. And Madonna is a fan of the chincilla coat and uses one of her properties in the UK for a canned hunt of baby pheasants. Ricci and Madonna should be treated with the same kindness and compassion as Ellen when trying to educate them, in my opinion. I personally don’t endorse bullying or name-calling as a strategy.
For whatever reason (an attack of conscience thanks to the prodding of PETA versus a PR tactic), Ricci has recently denounced fur. That demonstrates that fans really do make a difference, and if your favorite celebrity is doing something you disapprove of, perhaps letting them know might change what they do in the future.
Madonna, I’d imagine, couldn’t care less about animals. If one of your good friends is Stella McCartney, and you try to live a spiritual life filled with compassion, and you still wear fur and will hold canned hunts on your property, you’ve got a serious disconnect in your brain and I’m not sure that’s ever going to change. But we can hope. And if you’re a fan, you can write to her and alert her–in a nice way–of her disconnect. But don’t hold your breath.
My hope is that Ellen asks American Express to pull the commercial on her own, and makes a public apology, realizing that maybe it wasn’s such a good idea. That would be a great Christmas present.