August 17th, 2016 – Talk show host, Ellen Degeneres, will want to sit out the next couple of songs until the uproar over her recent twitpic calms down. The comic and daytime TV fixture drew the ire of people across social media who took issue with her doctoring a photo of Jamaican Olympic Gold medalist, Usain Bolt. The widely circulated image showed the sprinting superstar dominating his competition in the Men’s 100M Dash Finals at the Rio Games. In the last 50 meters of the race, Bolt streaked ahead of the field by a wide margin affording him the luxury of peaking back at them as he crossed the finish line to claim an historic third consecutive Gold medal in the event.
Degeneres altered the iconic image of a smiling and superlative Bolt to show her riding on the athlete’s back. She captioned the pic “This is how I’m running errands from now on.”
Others on social media defended Degeneres, insisting the photo was just a joke and that Bolt, who appeared on the talk show as a guest in the past, retweeted the image and reason Bolt himself sees no problem with the pic. The Emmy-winning star posted a response to the accusations of racism on her personal Twitter page saying:
“I am highly aware of the racism that exists in our country. It is the furthest thing from who I am.”
However the comic intended the image to be received, the response was strong and divided.
I am absolutely baffled by the people currently calling Ellen DeGeneres racist because she, more or less, called an Olympic sprinter fast. — Jeffhaerys Targaryen (@jekelish) August 16, 2016
While some called Degeneres’ use of the image racist many just expressed disbelief that the talk show host seemed to miss the potential for her intentions to be lost absent the proper context. Wrote one Twitter user:
“So the first thing that pops in your head when looking at this pic is ‘oh let me jump onto his back like he’s a common mule?”
Degeneres, with her famously upbeat and affable persona is a vocal advocate for LGTBQ rights and aligns herself with many progressive gender and child welfare causes.
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