Ellen DeGeneres Appeals To New Generation With Empowering Speech At Teen Choice Awards [WATCH]
There’s somewhat of a celebrity tradition to give big, important, inspirational speeches at the Teen Choice Awards. Readers will remember Ashton Kutcher’s now-iconic speech at the 2013 Teen Choice Awards in which he told the young, impressionable crowd to “build a life” they want. The Teen Choice Awards are all about the younger crowd: those who listen to Little Mix, Fifth Harmony, One Direction, and who watch Girl Meets World and Pretty Little Liars, all things that are waaaay over my own head. That’s why it’s so special when established celebrities take it upon themselves to dish out some serious wisdom.
This year, it was Ellen DeGeneres who took home the surfboard-shaped award for Choice Comedian. At the Teen Choice Awards, the fact that a 57-year-old gay comedian is still relevant and still so loved by today’s youth speaks volumes about the world we live in. It shows that teenagers are more mature than they’re given credit for, that they’re more aware of social issues and progressive change, and that they’re connected to broader popular culture, the culture that goes beyond Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel.
Ellen took the stage and it was with pride that she spoke about her own life experience, albeit in broad terms, and took the opportunity to make every teenager and young person in the audience more comfortable with their insecure adolescent years. She said:
“It feels good to be chosen, but there was a time in my life that I was not chosen. I was the opposite of chosen because I was different. And I think I want to make sure that everyone knows that what makes you different right now makes you stand out later in life. So you should be proud of being different.”
Spoken to a hall full of teenagers and young people, those words have a powerful impact, and not least because they’re spoken by someone who underwent massive emotional upheaval and fear of backlash by coming out in the public eye. Ellen’s acceptance by teenage culture marks a significant moment for LGBTQ people, especially considering she wished her wife, Portia De Rossi, a happy anniversary from the stage (and who blew Ellen a kiss).
But Ellen’s speech goes beyond LGBTQ rights and goes straight to the heart of what it means to be a teenager, and a human. Teenagers are frightened of standing out and being different, while adults relish it. Ellen’s words shine a light for teenagers to follow, by intimating that “it gets better.” She’s the living, breathing, dancing example of that.
Choosing Ellen over her other nominees, Jimmy Fallon, Kevin Hart, Jimmy Kimmel, George Lopez, and Amy Schumer, was definitely the right choice.