To many, Ellen DeGeneres' recent birthday message to Katy Perry didn't seem in tune with the current, widespread discussion about sexual misconduct. On Thursday, the talk show host posted an Instagram photo that was apparently meant to salute Perry in a lighthearted way.
The image showed DeGeneres jokingly gawking at Perry's cleavage, and the caption referred to Perry's "big balloons."
The backlash on the post was instant, and many Instagram users deemed the subject matter insensitive at a time when Harvey Weinstein's alleged acts of abuse and assault are dominating headlines.
"Tell me right now that there wouldn't be a completely different reaction if Harvey Weinstein or some other man did this," one Instagram user wrote under DeGeneres's birthday post. Another wrote: "This is funny but definitely a double standard, especially in light of recent news! Didn't expect this from Ellen."
Several other users did leap to DeGeneres' defense, pointing out that both Perry and DeGeneres — as well as DeGeneres' wife Portia De Rossi — are laughing in the image, and seem to be in on the same joke. Plus, DeGeneres does not seem to be threatening Perry physically in any way.
"People stop making this out to be some kind of Weinstein thing," one fan commented on Instagram. "Weinstein is a man, a huge man at that, that FORCED himself on women! Katy doesn’t seem bothered by it. It’s a joke."
DeGeneres herself has addressed the topic of sexual misconduct on The Ellen Show. Referring to the #MeToo hashtag, which social media users are using to share stories of sexual assault, she said, "Millions of people have come out, posting #MeToo. I applaud them all. I think it's brave, and I think it's important to speak out." She continued: "This is not a male thing or a female thing; this is not a Hollywood thing, or a political thing. It's a human thing." See the clip below.