Today I am musing on the exercising videos gone viral of Ellen DeGeneres and her partner, Portia de Rossi—and not because I’m lamenting my ability to view an incredible amount of claptrap daily that has nothing to do with me or my life. No, it has to do with what the media has decided to call a prank video by Ellen, and Portia’s prank video in response. All in good fun, right?
But neither is funny. What might have been a private, silly and self-deprecating moment for Portia was captured and broadcast to Ellen’s studio and home viewing audience—as far as I’m aware, without Portia’s consent. If I were Portia, I would have been hugely embarrassed, but beyond that, hurt. Hurt because I think love should make one feel safe. Instead, Ellen chose to embarrass her partner on national TV. Am I overanalyzing? Without a smidgeon of humor? Consider this: what could Ellen possibly have hoped to gain? The fawning approval of Jane Fonda? An easy laugh at Portia’s expense?
The word “safe” doesn’t figure in traditional marriage vows, but perhaps it should. Perhaps there should be a line somewhere that says we will endeavor to make a safe haven for our partners to be whoever they are, and that we will strive to love whoever they are with patience and kindness. We will not judge the innumerable ways they are different from us, nor will we question their needs, their shortcomings, their frailties. We will allow them to be, in a word, safe.
Portia responded to Ellen’s salvo by posting to her Twitter account a clip of Ms. DeGeneres jogging on a treadmill and singing along to Uptown Funk--badly. Now both of them have made the other feel unsafe. . .or not. Maybe my one-word description of what marriage should be is too naïve for Hollywood.
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