Ellen DeGeneres has given the plot of "Finding Dory" a new meaning.
President Trump hosted a screening of the popular animated movie at the White House on Sunday, two days after he signed an executive order banning immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The daytime talk show host and voice of Dory took that as a hint, using the plot of the Disney Pixar’s 2016 animated comedy-drama to illustrate her thinly veiled criticism of the travel ban.
"Like I said, I don't get political, so I'm not gonna talk about the travel ban," Ms. DeGeneres said during Tuesday's episode of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," noting the protests against the travel ban happening across the country. "I'm just gonna talk about the very non-political, family friendly, People's Choice Award-winning 'Finding Dory.' "
As DeGeneres told the audience, Dory, a fish living in Australia, was on her way across the Pacific Ocean to find her parents who live in the United States – only to find herself getting lost. Making an indirect political point, she said the country should help “people like Dory” just as Dory’s American friends did.
“Even though Dory gets into America, she ends up separated from her family, but the other animals help Dory,” DeGeneres said. “Animals that don't even need her. Animals that don't have anything in common with her. They help her, even though they're completely different colors. Because that's what you do when you see someone in need – you help them.”
Along the way, she took a dig at Trump’s plan of building the Mexican border wall.
“[Dory] ends up at the Marine Life Institute behind a large wall. They all have to get over the wall and you won't believe it, but that wall has almost no effect in keeping them out,” she said.
In a tweet on Sunday, DeGeneres’s co-star in the movie, Albert Brooks – who voiced Marlin – also found irony in the viewing president's choice amid upheaval over his travel ban.
In response, the White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Sunday said in a tweet that Trump did not actually watch the movie.
DeGeneres's Emmy-award winning talk show is known for its interviews, silly games, and musical performances. The comedian doesn't frequently wade into politics, and Tuesday was the first time the comedian host addressed Trump since his inauguration.
In November, DeGeneres was among the 21 recipients awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom – the highest civilian honor – by former President Obama. She was recognized for her courage and candor that “helped change the hearts and minds of millions of Americans, accelerating our nation’s constant drive towards equality and acceptance for all.”
"Ellen DeGeneres has showed us that a single individual can make the world a more fun, more open, more loving place, so long as we just keep swimming," President Obama said at the time, referring to the famous song, "Just Keep Swimming," sung by DeGeneres's animated character in "Finding Dory."
DeGeneres's comments were the latest in a series of direct and indirect criticism from celebrities on the president’s immigration ban.
Speaking of personal experiences as immigrants or Muslims, actors at the Screen Actors Guild awards ceremony in Los Angeles, including Mahershala Ali and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, took aim at the ban in fiery speeches on Sunday.
This report includes material from Reuters.