Culture

For Ellen DeGeneres, a Troubled Past Led to Her Serial Niceness

Rosie O’Donnell’s reign as the Queen of Nice was short-lived … and a sham.

O’Donnell’s off-screen outbursts became legendary, and when she joined “The View” her “nice” facade fell away as soon as a conservative spoke up. If a fraction of the show’s insider accounts are to believed, “nice” is the last word associated with the abrasive comic.

Ellen DeGeneres is the true Queen of Nice.

The star of Pixar’s new “Finding Dory” ends each episode of her syndicated daytime talker imploring viewers to be nice to each other.

On screen, she’s not crude like Samantha Bee or combative a la Chris Matthews. Her humor is bright, winning. And we hear very little of any behind-the-scenes turmoil that might put her in the O’Donnell camp.

Being nice should be the norm, even though it often isn’t in our society. What’s intriguing about DeGeneres is the roots of her aggressive kindness.

She grew up in a very strict home, one where the only approved emotion was happiness — real or fictional. The comedienne opened up to Parade magazine recently about her childhood and the origins of her comic persona.

“There was no drinking, smoking or cursing. I didn’t see deep emotion from my parents,” she said of her childhood. “It was all very polite and very surface. I never knew how anybody was feeling.”

Those experiences still cling to her today.

“Because I’ve been treated in a way that has not been kind, respectful or considerate, I learned compassion from having experienced some bad stuff,” she said.

Now, conservatives will swat DeGeneres for her politics. She’s been an unflagging supporter of the serially flawed Hillary Clinton, to an embarrassing degree. It’s ironic how the comic overlooks Clinton’s reputation for being anything but nice, particularly regarding allegations from those sworn to protect her.

And DeGeneres does leverage her cultural megaphone to speak out on behalf of gay rights.

She’s entitled to her views. Feel free to disagree. When she does get political, it lacks the vitriol that many of her fellow liberals embrace.

“I never want to hurt anybody. I want to make people laugh. I didn’t think it was ever funny to make fun of people. There’s so much to laugh at without it being at someone else’s expense,” she said.

Can she keep up her nice resolve as the presidential election heats up? It’s hard to imagine a tougher test of her serial politeness. She might crack and become as curt as every other celebrity with an opinion.

For now, her efforts to turn a troubled past into a more positive future should be applauded.