But the topic I want to address is being dusted off from the month of October 2012. I only just found out about this, and was so excited that I simply had to share with all of our readers! Ellen DeGeneres, one of my favourite women in the universe, was the recipient of 2012s Mark Twain Prize for American humor. The award "honors people who have an impact on society in the tradition of Samuel Clemens, better known as Twain, as a social commentator and satirist." The Kennedy Center, which grants this honor, was careful to make it known that their choice was based on the light and impact Ellen has on the community, and not any political issue. It is well known that DeGeneres promotes queer equality and is an out lesbian, currently married to Portia de Rossi. When asked about her political statements, she told Diane Sawyer "When I'm accused of becoming political, I'm showing love. How is that political to teach love and acceptance?" Sean Hayes, who was just one of the many performers who honored Ellen in October, noted how she paved the way for queer visibility in American television. "I like to think that Ellen made Will & Grace possible," he said. "And Will & Grace made it possible for Modern Family. Her fearlessness was her contribution and it continues to be." Regardless of the Kennedy Center's reluctance to acknowledge her political activism, they themselves are making a quality statement by selecting a woman (a gay woman, no less!) as the recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
As you may recall from Lexi's blog a few months ago, it is incredibly difficult for women to make it in comedy. There are so many barriers that must be overcome, and even if one manages to acquire some level of recognition, it is almost always qualified by gender. But Ellen's accomplishment is purely respectful! She is recognized for her positive impact on the community, in the spirit of Mark Twain. Rock on, wonderful woman!