Ellen DeGeneres is facing backlash after comparing self-isolating in her mansion to being in prison

ltorres@businessinsider.com (Libby Torres)

Ellen DeGeneres made a joke about prison during her show on Monday.

Ellen DeGeneres/EllenTube

  • Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres is facing backlash online after she made a joke about prison and self-isolation during her show on Monday. 
  • "This is like being in jail, is what this is," DeGeneres said of self-isolating in her California mansion with her wife, Portia de Rossi.
  • "It's mostly because I've been wearing the same clothes for 10 days, and everyone in here is gay," she added with a smile. "The jokes that I have." 
  • After DeGeneres shared the clip of her making the prison joke online, Twitter users were quick to call out the host for her insensitive quip about incarcerated people — especially during the current pandemic, when prison inmates are at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19 than other citizens. 
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Ellen DeGeneres compared self-isolating in her California mansion to being in prison, and Twitter users were quick to call out the talk show host for what they felt was an insensitive remark. 

During her show on Monday, DeGeneres revealed that she was now filming from the comfort of her home that she shares with wife Portia de Rossi. After thanking first responders, emergency workers, doctors, nurses, and other essential pandemic workers, DeGeneres pivoted to talking about her experience self-isolating with de Rossi and their dog (around the two-minute mark). 

"One thing I've learned from being in quarantine is that people — this is like being in jail, is what this is," DeGeneres said, adding, "It's mostly because I've been wearing the same clothes for 10 days, and everyone in here is gay." 

 

DeGeneres seemed amused by her comparison, smiling and remarking, "The jokes that I have." 

After DeGeneres shared the clip on Twitter, users were quick to call out the host for her remarks about prisons, especially during a time when prison inmates are at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19. Some pointed out that inmates in prisons were far more likely to die from the coronavirus than other citizens — especially wealthy ones like DeGeneres. 

 

Prison inmates are disproportionately vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 during the current pandemic, with experts warning that prisons and jails could become "petri dishes of infection."

Even during normal times, inmates face incredible challenges if they become ill or injured during their incarceration, and many fear the coronavirus could wreak havoc on prisons if left unchecked — leading to the release of some prisoners considered to be at a higher risk for contracting the virus

The backlash continued to grow after "celebrity expert" Mike Sington posted a screengrab, along with a quote, from DeGeneres' controversial monologue. Sington's tweet inspired a flurry of replies and retweets, some of which went viral themselves, about DeGeneres' home and lifestyle. 

Others highlighted the importance of medical professionals and other essential workers during this time, who likely have it far more difficult than DeGeneres. 

 

Prior to the return of her show, DeGeneres has posted videos of herself on social media saying she's "bored" and speaking with celebrities while in isolation, including Michelle Obama, Chrissy Teigen, and John Legend, as well as Kevin Hart

Representatives for DeGeneres didn't immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment. 

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