At 3:00 pm on September 29th a small crowd of students sat at the EMU ampitheater patiently awaiting signs that Ellen Degeneres would indeed be coming to the U of O. The sky was covered in clouds and light rain gently fell down upon the ampitheater. Some of the crowd had rain gear and a few had umbrellas. Most of the crowd wore jeans and sweatshirts and happily talked and waited while their clothes slowly soaked in the rain. When asked how they heard Ellen was coming most said they heard it from a friend, on facebook, or twitter. No one in the crowd new more details than she might be coming but everyone seemed content with just the possibility of her showing up.
At 3:15 the rain changed from a drizzle to a downpour. The patient crowd flocked from the ampitheater to the fishbowl. Some began to doubt whether Ellen was really coming. Senior student, Samantha White, stood soaking and said, “I must be crazy.” One student said to another, “Do you want to go home?” The crowd that numbered around 60 in the light rain soon became less than 20.
At 3:25 the rain stopped and the crowd slowly but steadily began to reform. The brighter weather aligned with brighter hopes for the students that Ellen was actually coming. Most students passed by uninformed. Some inquired what was going on, and were unimpressed. Others’ reactions where different. When junior student Bo heard that Ellen was coming he said, “Oh my god, Now I can’t go to class. I’ll just have to hope one of the other students gets the swine flu so I can get back in.” When asked what is it about Ellen that people love so much Samantha White said, “It’s because she’s so genuine. Her fashion and the way she acts, she hasn’t let fame get to her head and she can relate to normal people like us.”
At 3:40 the crowd continued to grow. What was once 60 now numbered 200 strong. The camera crew stood underneath a canopy in front of the EMU and Ellen’s announcer Aaron was there holding an Ellen Show microphone letting everyone around now that all the online rumors were real. Signs were out, and people were crowding. For many the level of excitement was high. For others the traffic was annoying. When students finally recieved the tweet to retrieve a bar of soap from Ellen silence gave way to chaos. One unimpressed student looked at the crowd on his way to the craft center and said, “This is f***ing disgusting.” Not many around shared his views, however. One girl went as far as to tear out the liquid soap dispenser in an EMU bathroom in the hopes that it would satisfy requirements for the scavenger hunt. It did not, but made for a few good laughs from the surrounding crowd. Another student who retrieved a bar of soap raced to Aaron but was a second too late. She was almost in tears.
The event was certainly out of the usual. The draw power star powers have on the public demonstrated by Ellen was impressive, especially since she wasn’t even there. What is even more impressive is how social networks like Twitter are revolutionizing communication and social interaction. One minute a crowd stands excited but subdued, and one tweet later students are ripping out liquid soap dispensers.