Surprised that Ellen DeGeneres was seen yukking it up with George W. Bush at a football game last weekend? Don’t be! Rich people love hanging out with other rich people. So, since Ellen’s a multimillionaire, the 43rd President of the United States is a multimillionaire, and Charlotte Jones Anderson—the Dallas Cowboys’ Executive Vice President who invited both of them to Sunday’s game—is a multimillionaire, it actually all makes perfect sense that they’d all want to socialize together.
Still, it is confusing to think about how DeGeneres, one of the nation’s foremost openly gay celebrities would, could look past Bush’s years of using the bully pulpit to advocate against LGBTQ rights—not to mention, uhhhh, the unnecessary wars he started in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have killed millions of people and traumatized countless others.
Ellen tried to explain away the cognitive dissonance of all this on her talk show Monday morning, saying that “just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be friends with them.” But disagreeing about the Bush administration’s ongoing legacy of global violence against Muslim people seems like more than just a difference of opinion.
Does Ellen not understand why people are disgusted by that video of her and W. palling around at the football game? Does she just not care?
While we’re unable to psychoanalyze a famous stranger from the aggressively air-conditioned comfort of VICE’s Brooklyn office, we can say that it is well documented that wealthy people often struggle with holding empathy for other people.
In fact, UC Berkeley psychologists Paul Diff and Dacher Keltner have done a number of studies over the past 10 years that suggest that the more material wealth an individual accumulates, the less likely that person is to have compassion and empathy for other people, and to use their wealth to help others in need.
Upper class individuals are also worse at recognizing other people’s emotions, and they’re less likely to pay attention to the people they’re interacting with. Maybe that’s why Ellen’s just not getting why everyone’s so mad. I wonder if she’ll start to get it soon? Or maybe we should just get this class war started, just to be safe.
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