Nearly seven months after Framing Britney Spears sparked a national discourse about the way women are treated in Hollywood, an old interview between Ellen DeGeneres and Taylor Swift is reigniting the conversation.
Following the groundbreaking documentary, which featured a particularly uncomfortable sit-down between Diane Sawyer and Britney Spears, many pop culture connoisseurs have begun to re-evaluate the celebrity interview model and how it’s often designed to berate and embarrass women: From one 2007 interview between Paris Hilton and David Letterman to another rough exchange in 2013 between Lindsay Lohan and, again, David Letterman.
Now, TikTok user Nya Johnson resurfaced a frustrating back and forth between pop star Taylor Swift and DeGeneres from that same year. In the TikTok video titled, “Someone Who Deserves An Apology: Talk Show Edition,” DeGeneres starts off by repeatedly referring to Zac Efron as Swift’s boyfriend, despite her multiple assertions that they have never dated.
“Yes you did, why do you deny it?” DeGeneres insists.
As Swift appears to become uncomfortable with the line of questioning, DeGeneres moves on to a new subject—well, not exactly new. This time, DeGeneres wants to know who the song “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” is about. Her way to do so involves displaying images of Swift and various men and instructing Swift to ring a bell when they land on the right guy.
“I don’t know if I’m going to do this,” Swift says. “This is the one thing that I have, it’s like the one shred of dignity that I have…People go and make guesses about it and the only thing that I have is like that one card.”
“Do you know how badly this makes me feel?” Swift says when the talk show host starts presenting the images. While the host jokingly included guys Swift clearly never dated—from Danny DeVito to Justin Timberlake—Swift gets visibly upset when a picture of her and ex John Mayer appears. “You’re supposed to ring,” DeGeneres says, to which Swift replies, “I don’t want to! I don’t want to. They’ll send me angry emails and I don’t want to get them.”
Even when DeGeneres takes over the game and starts ringing at random, Swift begs for the segment to end. “Stop it, stop it, stop,” she says in an unedited version of the segment, which you can watch here. “It makes me feel so bad about myself every time I come up here you put like a different dude up there on the screen, and it just makes me really question what I stand for as a human being.”
The TikTok, which has been viewed over 3.2 million times and has amassed over 800K likes has left viewers feeling upset on behalf of the Folklore artist. “She’s on the brink of tears and everyone is laughing and ellen is ignoring all her requests to stop,” one user commented.
A similar exchange between DeGeneres and Mariah Carey occurred in 2018, in which DeGeneres tried to get the singer to confirm pregnancy rumors by encouraging her to drink champagne. “I was extremely uncomfortable with that moment is all I can say. And I really have had a hard time grappling with the aftermath,” Carey told Vulture in August 2020. “I wasn’t ready to tell anyone because I had had a miscarriage.”
“[There’s] an empathy that can be applied to those moments that I would have liked to have been implemented,” she added. “But what am I supposed to do?”