Ellen DeGeneres, the Oscars, and the Selfie That Broke Twitter



While hosting the Academy Awards last night, Ellen DeGeneres tweeted this selfie that quickly set a record as the most retweeted item EVAH. Her caption: "If only Bradley's arm was longer. Best photo ever." The traffic on Twitter was so massive the service actually couldn't keep up for a while.

As the Los Angeles Times wrote, the popularity of the image above easily busted the previous retweet record, which was held by President Barack Obama, who sometime in 2012 tweeted, "Four more years."

At 9 p.m. PST, the Ellen tweet was pushing 1.8 million retweets (although Twitter stuttered with the traffic load brought on by the tweet, and different users were seeing different totals).

That obliterates the Obama retweet total of 778,801.

Is there any socio-cultural import to be found in this? Does this mean that culture trumps politics? That celebs are more attractive than pols? That Sunday night is the right time for infamously long, boring awards shows? That Obama's second-term agenda is as dead as the future careers of the folks winning best supporting Oscars?

Perhaps it's worth looking at the compositional differences between the two biggest tweets of all time. The stars are looking at viewers and directly engaging us in joy and fellowship; it's an invitation to share in a moment. Obama's eyes are closed and he's in a rapturous embrace with (presumably) his wife and lover. The viewer is cast in the role of a voyeur rather than an active participant. Perhaps that's a metaphor for Obama's presidency in which many if not most of his biggest "accomplishments"—TARP, Obamacare, dragnet surveillance—have been wildly unpopular with the voting masses. We are supposed to gaze upon him and follow him around but not disturb his reveries.

Hash it out in the comments.

For a list of Oscar winners, go here.

NEXT: Gravity Wins Seven Academy Awards

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  1. It feels like I’m wearing nothing at all.

    1. Stupid sexy Flanders.

      1. You are missed. Come back more often.

  2. I don’t do the Oscars. Unless Jason Statham or Jet Li are nominated for something. Then I’d watch.

    1. I watched TV last night. There was an interesting nature show, and I learned something about frigate birds that I hadn’t known before.

    2. I skipped most of it too, but mainly to watch the cuter and less famous gays on HBO. Apparently Degeneres recorded a post-Oscars after party show debriefing that airs today on “Ellen.”

      1. Whose briefs is she debriefing?

    1. At least she would have us laughing at her on purpose, unlike poor uncle Joe.

      1. Biden is funnier.

    2. Okay, I’m proud that she’s a lesbian and all but, seriously, I’m pretty sure she’s the least talented earthling.

      1. She’s a decent talk show host, but her stand-up routine was the-worst-ever!

        1. I thought her bit about the humans that understand Lassie: “Woof!” “What’s that Lassie, Timmy’s stuck in the well?” “Woof!” “He said to bring a ladder?” “Woof!” “A 24-foot extension ladder?” “Soof!” and so on, was pretty funny.

          1. tr/Soof/Woof/

  3. Bradley who?

    1. Omar Bradley?

    2. The guy with the fighting vehicle named after him?

      1. Not too likely; Ellen would have said “Chelsea” if that were the case.

  4. I wish twitter would stay broken.

    1. #bitter

  5. Tulpa: pathetic loser or most pathetic loser?

    1. why can’t it be both?

    2. Rollo is a mental health professional! Show some respect for Gawd’s sake!

    3. Who’s the real ‘Tulpa’, Tupla or Rollo?

    4. Why isn’t “the best song off Real Life” an option?

  6. And this, my friends, is why we have the politicians that America deserves.

  7. I thought the show sucked and Degenerets was terrible.

    1. My list of things I want to do doesn’t include spending hours watching a bunch of Hollywood stars congratulating themselves. You’d have to pay me to watch that crap.

      And that “four more years” tweet would be awesome if someone hacked it and added a few more pictures — of kids being drone killed, Gitmo prisoners, and NSA functionaries reading your emails, etc.

      1. I haven’t watched an awards.show since probably 1987 or 1988, when I was an adolescent. Now, as you said, you’d have to pay me to.watch. there are.so many better.things for.me to.do.

        1. Intermittently putting periods in the spaces is time consuming.

      2. Yup.

        I never understood the whole award show thing. It’s really pointless.

        Also, you always have people on monday talking about how funny the host was. No, they weren’t. Are you a 54 year old cat lady that teaches sunday school? Yes? Then maybe it was funny and edgy to you, but to normal people it was fucking lame-o, man.

        1. Ricky Gervais’ performance at the GG was the closest thing to edgy at one of these things there ever was.

          If, as a host, you can make the losers cry, then I might enjoy watching.

  8. Celebrity jock sniffing,…yay.

  9. The viewer is cast in the role of a voyeur rather than an active participant.

    Sort of like Obama’s own role with respect to his administration, if his excuses are to be believed.

  10. One difference between the Oscars and Obama is that watching the former is voluntary, while Yemeni wedding guests aren’t asked whether the would like to be droned to death.

  11. I don’t think there is any socio-economic implication here. Ellen was directly engaging the viewers to participate in something, so they did.

    I do like your last sentence, as I believe it encapsulates Obama’s presidency.

    Nice meeting you out in Boston last week!

    1. I do like your last sentence, as I believe it encapsulates Obama’s presidency.

      For a list of Oscar winners, go here.

      I don’t get it.

  12. Can anyone name all the actors in this picture? I recognize Ellen DeGeneres, Brad (Bradley?) Pitt, Kevin Spacey, then I think that’s Julia Roberts and Angelina Jolie?

    1. Bradley cooper is the guy taking the pic. You don’t recognize Meryl Streep(sp)?

      1. Oh yeah, didn’t quite click but it’s obvious now.

    2. The other two women on the left are Jennifer Lawrence and an amazingly obscured Meryl Streep, I believe.

    3. Who’s the black chick with the glasses – Ellen’s latest squeeze?

      1. I honestly believe it’s a man.

        1. It is. He was with Lupita Nyong’o, who won best supporting actress (behind him in the pic). I don’t know their relationship: brother? boyfriend?

          1. Well he’s prettier than Ellen – not that that’s saying a whole lot.

    4. The only one I knew was Ellen.

      1. Whew – so I’m not the only one! Thanks, Jarl.

  13. First you legalize lesbian marriage, and then twitter breaks down. It’s probably why Meetup is under attack this week too.

  14. It means there’s a large intersection on the Venn Diagram of people who vote for Obama, watch the Oscars, and spend their time re-tweeting photos.

    1. That’s a reasonable assessment, I think.

  15. The main implication is “The Self”. The Selfie, meant to capture the essence of one’s sole by the taker, is now an expression of one’s soul to others. “The Self” has moved outside “The Body” into “The Community”, and #FullCommunism is imminent. In 1000 years after history has been rewritten, the scroll on which words are defined will refer read “degenerate” as a cultural reference to “DeGeneres”, much like quixotic and Quixote. This time, however, the only windmills will be those chopping off our heads.

    That’s what this means, Nick.

  16. The one time I checked ABC last night was right when this stunt was happening. It felt like an excruciatingly long, awkward digression as she tried to explain what she was doing, roped in people to join her, etc. Just awful, I thought. That it worked so well shows how much I know about these things.

  17. It’s my new favorite picture if only for the fact that it dethroned Obama’s record-setting tweetpic.

    Many of you disparage the self-congratulatory award show, but it’s mostly harmless and far superior to feigning affect over the political ramblings of a cool black guy who likes to trip capitalism with his foot and then gossip about how clumsy it is.

    1. Exactly. It’s like politics, but with movie stars, who tend to be better looking and more entertaining.

      1. And far less dangerous!

  18. Jennifer Lawrence can trip onto my bed anytime she wants.

  19. This is the garbage what reason covers? Why not just change your name to Hump?

  20. “Is there any socio-cultural import to be found in this?”


    It’s a wonderful example of just how badly our education system is broken, that the least-funny (looks don’t count) woman ever to gum up the airwaves could cause over a million undereducated Funyuns (my apologies to the yummy snack food) to lose what little brains they have. . .

    I’m embarrassed for her, and for every one of those terminally ignorant cretins. . .

  21. Anyone else sick of the word “selfie” yet?

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