Watch: Elton John Opens About About Being Bullied Months After He Publicly Bullied Madonna


Singer Elton John sat down with E! News correspondant David Burtka to share his personal story of being bullied. Altho most people believe that bullying takes place only in school settings, Elton reveals that he was bullied in adulthood. I find this interview very curious because it comes just 2 months after Elton and his husband David Furnish engaged in very public, very hateful bullying against Madonna (over her Golden Globe win for Best Original Song, a category that Elton was also nominated for). In his attempt to lend support to the powerful documentary film Bully, Elton is trying to show that he has been a victim of bullying … without really taking responsibility for his own bullying behavior. HMMM.

If you thought bullying stops after high school, you’re sadly mistaken. As the constant debate concerning the theatrical release of Bully continues, Elton John got candid with E! News’ David Burtka during an exclusive interview recalling his own struggle with being bullied, even as an adult megastar. “It was about control and them being able to keep me under their thumb,” he tells us. “And I was the perfect candidate for it. Even though I was famous and a big deal, it doesn’t matter, it’s who you are underneath that, and I was always kind of shy and intimidated.” Elton adds, “One was violent and the other two were mentally violent. They were very important people in my life. They were important people in my career and and in my personal life.” The Grammy-winning artist admitted to being physically hit by his tormentors, and although he kept mum on the situation, he urges others that are victimized to contact someone about their issue. “Speak out, speak out. Snitch on them. Try to defend yourself, not like me, who hid it and thought it was OK to just go on like it.” As for the bullies, “Your insecurities are what drive you to do this. You need to consider your consequences. I’m sure underneath it, you’re all very nice people. We’ve all made mistakes in our life—this is a good time now to correct your mistakes and help people.” He continues, “We have to nip this in the bud, too many people have died. Too many young people have committed suicide because they’ve been frightened of 15-16-year-olds.”

Look, I get and greatly respect that Elton John is trying to shed light on the subject of bullying and his support of the documentary film Bully is very important. I just can’t help but feel his words ring with some bit of hallow hypocrisy especially in light of the very public bullying tactics he has used against Madonna for years. How can you take someone serious when they say, We have to stop bullying because I have been a victim of bullying in adulthood when they very famously engaged in the same behavior they are speaking out against (only weeks ago!). Not only that, but Elton’s husband David Furnish took his bullying tactics to Facebook … which is where a lot of cyberbullying takes place amongst teens. I mean, it’s ridiculous! I think it would help Elton’s standing if he would just own up to his behavior and publicly acknowledge his bullying behavior and then apologize for it. If he truly wants to help the anti-bullying cause, he needs to man up and take responsibility for his own actions before taking the “poor me” route.


  • MM

    Amen to this! I am an Elton John fan but was so insulted by his behavior towards Madonna at the Golden Globes. She was so gracious and funny about it, because that’s who she is, but it was so uncalled for and SO below the belt. Total sour grapes.

    That his husband then brought it to Facebook and accused Madonna of slamming Gaga (which she never actually did) just came off as juvenile and petty.

    Lessons learned:
    No one likes a bitchy queen and Don’t bully Madonna! :)

    • Whitney

      So very true…

  • swile71

    A hypocrite indeed! He can’t have it both ways. You can’t speak out against bullying when you are practicing that behavior yourself. It’s time for Elton to put on his big boy pants and GROW UP! He is in the public eye and could be a great sponsor in the fight against bullying.

    I also find it funny that Gaga is his child’s godmother and she is a HUGE advocate against bullying. Maybe he should have a chat with her on how to behave.

  • NN

    I do not care much about Madonna or Elton John. But I think you saw it only from a personal perspective.
    I would not call what Elton John did about Madonna bullying, I will call it a many year feud Between Madonna and Elton John. It is not like Madonna is completely innocent either. She has also not been nice and said not nice things about other artists.

    In this case, Elton John is talking about that he has been physically, emotionally, and mentally abuse of people that he was very close to him, and therefore they had a form of power over him.

    I think people throw the word bullying around too much. That it can quickly lose its power. People need to remember what bullying is and what it does to the victim and the bully.

    oh god damn, David Burtka is hot.

    • @NN — “I would not call what Elton John did about Madonna bullying” IMHO, any personal attack on another person is bullying. To criticize someone is one thing, to attack someone with name-calling is bullying. The fact that this “public feud” is really only one way is further proof of Elton’s bullying tactics. Madonna had nothing negative to say at all when she was attacked, which further enraged Elton. I’m not saying Madonna may not be guilty of bullying behavior, I’m merely pointing out Elton’s very obvious hypocrisy. Again, I take issue with Elton taking a victim position when he is guilty of victimizing others.

    • NN

      I do not agree with you, and that’s okay. I think that both Madonna and Elton John are both extreme in their personalities and they often do alot to get publicity,extreme things/says extreme things/ behave extremely. Simply both of them has a provocative behavior. I think they are both equally bad. But that’s me. Also, Elton John should not take responsibility for what his partner do, we must seperate what he does and what David F does when this issue is discussed

      Here is a definition of what bullying is
      Bullying is when a person repeatedly and over time exposed to negative actions. This may involve harassment, pestering, ostracism, hurtful teasing, beat, break down the individual emotionally, so they lose their confidence, their self-esteem etc.
      It is typical for the situation that the victim is unable to defend themselves.

      If the parties are in opposition to each other is as strong (powerful) it is not defined it as bullying.

      The last two sentences say a lot.

      One more thing, research shows that bullies often are bullies themselves. Many times without knowing it themselves. They regard themselves not as bullies, only victims. This is such a complicated subject.

      My point from the beginning was that I wish you had put more focus on the message they were trying to bring up that is so important and relevant instead put the focus how you feel about the feud between EJ and M. This could be a positive article, but it was the opposite.

    • @NN — “My point from the beginning was that I wish you had put more focus on the message they were trying to bring up that is so important” I agree, I wish I could focus on the positive too … but, as I made clear, I can not get past Elton’s behavior only weeks ago.

      “Elton John should not take responsibility for what his partner do, we must seperate what he does and what David F does when this issue is discussed” Um, I disagree. If Elton’s going to put himself out there as an anti-bullying poster child then he prolly should start his advocacy in his own home. He talks about fearing that his son may be bullied but doesn’t mention that his son’s other father is a cyberbully. The whole thing just really rubs me the wrong way.

      As I said, I get that he wants to put himself out there as an anti-bullying advocate but I just can’t buy it. And yes you are right, we can disagree and it’s OK :D

    • I’m going to have to agree with trent only because madonna and elton john are two of the most culturally significant artists out there, esp for the gay community. the community that this bullying pandemic has targeted. By definition, bullying may be about power relations (strong vz weak) but elton, and all other public figures, has a responsibility to preach what he teaches. he’s influential. its irresponsible of him to play the victim and yet also be a bully and not acknowledge that. trent is right. i think you’re getting too far into the specific definition of what bullying is. in elton VS madonna, this is about sending a powerful message of how to get along. and elton FAILED. he definitely failed…even in his adulthood, when you’re supposed to grow wise and realize ur words have a profound effect on the environment around u.

  • Suzie Z

    I love Elton John but is it just me or has he become quite bitter and nasty’ish in his old age? The whole Golden Globes thing rubbed me the wrong way. I’d have thought maybe fatherhood would mellow him, but it for sure hasn’t him or his partner. He better check himself before standing on a soap box for a cause…

  • Nicola

    I agree with NN that what Elton and David said about Madonna was not bullying. It was public criticism and disagreement about who won an award. You can critize someone and be b*tchy to them without it being bullying. They both actively participate in that stupid ‘feud’. There is a HUGE difference between saying someone didn’t deserve an award and is narcissistic to actual bullying. Bullying is a form of agression and involves a power imbalance, or the creation (or attempt to create) a power imbalance. There is no power imbalance between Elton and Madonna. They’re both grown ups who dislike each other and publicly criticize each other. Comparing that to the epidemic of actual bullying is insulting to people who actually have to deal with real bullying.

    • @Nicola — “Bullying is a form of agression and involves a power imbalance” As Elton says in his interview, there is such thing as mental bullying as well. I find it very agressive for Elton — a man — to hurl insults at Madonna — a woman — in a public way. I see it as a power thing to put out these negative attacks in the public eye, in the media, on Facebook when he could very easily say these things to her face privately and personally. But, as is the M.O. of most bullies, I find Elton Johan a coward. I doubt he or David Furnish would ever say these things to Madonna’s face.

    • Nicola

      @ Trent – Just because Elton is a man and Madonna is a woman does not create a power imbalance! I find that HIGHLY offensive.

    • @Nicola — I’m sorry you’re offended, I merely stated the facts. I’m not saying men are more powerful than women. In fact, I’d argue that Elton isn’t more powerful than a lot of people. As I said, I doubt Elton would even have the guts to say the things he said about Madonna to her face.

  • Will

    I completely agree with NN and Nicola.
    There’s nothing actually to be said.
    You both said it all.


    I honestly can’t even watch Elton John interviews or take him seriously. As an artist, he’s great, but as a human being, he’s simply nauseating. I find him to be a bitter queen and the fact that he portrays himself as the victim yet reciprocates the same behavior he speaks against is, in fact, hypocritical, not to mention absurd to the greatest extent.

  • swile71

    Bully: “A person who is habitually cruel or overbearing”.

    Bullying: “Intentional aggressive behavior. It can take the
    form of physical or verbal harassment”.

    “Bullying behavior can include teasing, insulting someone, shoving, hitting, excluding someone, or gossiping about someone”.


    • @Swile71 — Yes, thank you so much!!!

    • Gal Capone

      Just to play devil’s advocate because I agree with Nicola & NN: Do you consider yourself a bully, Trent, by your repeated rants against Kevin Federline, for example?

    • @Gal Capone — Do I consider myself a bully? No. Might others? Possibly. I have no intention of being cruel toward him but I am vocal about my disgust of his behavior. Am I intentionally trying to be agressive in my criticism? I don’t think so … but yes, I may use strong language to highlight how gross I feel his freeloading behavior is. Do I tease, insult or gossip about him … yes, that I do. But again, I have no position of power over him in any way. Despite my colorful criticism, he is still a millionaire living high off the hog from money gotten from his ex-wife and the exploitation of his famous children. If this is what you consider being a bully, then so be it. I do not believe that I am a bully.

    • Gal Capone

      No, I don’t think that you are a bully. I don’t think Elton is one either. He is not in a position of power over Madonna. But by Swile71’s definition (which you enthusiastically agreed with) “Bullying behavior can include teasing, insulting someone, shoving, hitting, excluding someone, or gossiping about someone” then yes, yes you are.

    • @Gal Capone — Yes, then I guess we can agree to disagree :)

  • Katherine

    I’ve had a hard time respecting him since he played at Rush Limbaugh’s wedding in 2010.

    • @Katherine — Don’t even get me started on that bit of hypocrisy.

    • Katie

      I think I have more of an issue with that than the Madonna thing!

      I tend to agree with some of the others. I don’t really think the feud between the two is quite bullying. But he certainly does not set a good example of how you should deal with others.

  • NN

    When the definition of bullying is used very loosely, we all are bullies in some way. This also applies to the media, magazines, gossip blogs etc. They often writer their own true, make up stories, spread rumors or simply make the up and on and on. We buy the magazines, read blogs and comment anonymously on articles. Many people are very rude, hateful, mean, etc. (Here I am talking in general about society (not specifically about you Trent)but we all are a part of it)

    But I’m more interested in the real bullying (as I call it) it can completely destroy young people, and they carry the scars for life because of it. Many will have major problems as an adult, such as depression, substance abuse, low self-esteem, Severe psychiatric disorders, they are afraid to let people in, they are afraid to love and be loved, they find relationship in which they are abused (emotionally, physically) because they think that is what they deserve. There are so many consequences of bullying that can be sustained devastating that we could write a whole book about it

  • Krissy

    I have to say, I find the use of the word “queen” to be a slur when it is used as an attack on a homosexual person. The word is thrown around a lot of times when one person from the LBGT community attacks another member of that same community…and I don’t think that makes it ok. (There are 2 comments that have used it on this page, but I have seen it used many times before on threads on this site.)

    By calling him a “bitter queen” instead of just a bitter person brings his sexuality into it. Not right, IMO. I am not trying to attack anyone, just maybe re-think your comments next time. :)

  • Krissy

    Trent, I have a comment pending moderation. Could you take a look at it pwetty pwease? ;)

  • Frank

    Yet, another example of a celebrity jumping on the latest hot topic. Elton John has been so nasty to Madonna that he should listen to his own words. “Your insecurities are what drive you to do this.”
    And the whole interview is so insipid. What does his photography collection have to do with bullying?
    Furnish and John should grow up and raise their children instead of going on a FB rampage after losing an award.

  • DJ

    It’s funny that I find myself agreeing with almost everything people have written here thus far. Even all the contradicting arguments.

    As far as Trent being a bully, I don’t see it that way. I find him to be passionate about things, and not just things that he loves, but also things and issues he feels strongly about. And he likes to point out what he sees as hypocrisy and stupidity in the world of celebrities. Sometimes we don’t agree with him and sometimes we do.

    Yet at the same time, if Elton’s negative (some may say “bullying”) comments were directed at, say, Kevin Federline or Chris Brown, I get the feeling Trent would be all aboard the Elton Train! But because they were directed at Madonna, who Trent adores and worships (as he should cuz the woman is FRIGGIN AMAZING!) he sees it as bullying.

    Is Trent a bully? I say no
    Is Elton a bully? I also say no

    Should Elton think before he speaks in public and perhaps practice what he preaches a bit? Uh YEAH!!!

    • Hannah

      I agree. I nearly posted upthread. I think there is a bit of double standard going on, regarding who is the one getting “bullied”. Trent isn’t a bully but neither is Elton. You might not like what Elton said but it wasn’t bullying.

  • Lou

    It’s a classic pot calling the kettle black scenario. Whether Elton John is a bully or not can be debated at length, but what he and David Furnish said about Madonna was MEAN and perpetuates the “bitter queen” stereotype with which, in my opinion, they are both rightly labeled.

  • Tate

    I agree with you Trent on this one. Elton has been a bully towards Madonna for years. However, where do we draw the line? For a very long Trent you seemed to be bullying Lady Gaga. You have simmered down allot in that regard, but I used to read what you would post about her and after seeing it time and time again it came off as bullying in my book, However, I think there is a slight area where bullying can be a blurred lined and not so black and white. Just like how some have posted here that they don’t think Elton is a bully. Many will not think you were bullying Lady GaGa and only stating your negative opinions about her over and over and over. So there is a grey area for sure.

    • @Tate — “For a very long Trent you seemed to be bullying Lady Gaga” Really? Can you show me one post where I allegedly bullied Lady Gaga? If I’m not a fan of someone, I don’t blog about them. Only recently has this blog published posts on Lady Gaga (I believe Melissa is a fan) but I would love to see these bullying posts that you say exist.

  • Taeylor

    I am sorry but I find it disgusting that Elton would even speak on her. He is a bitter queen. Whether he was being playful (which I think not) or whatever he was wrong about speaking so nasty about Madonna. It was bullying pure and simply. Of course Madonna was very gracious. He just seems to be very bitter because he didn’t win. That is being a total sore loser. And his remarks about her lip synching didn’t help. A lot of people lip synch at big events like the SUPERBOWL. I saw the STICKY N SWEET tour and Madonna sang live because it wasn’t perfect yet she sounded a lot better than I thought she would. I have just had it with Elton John and his double talk. And for his partner to take his cyber bullying to the net and talk about M like a piece of shit showed what a childish pair these two really are. GROW THE EFF UP!

  • he is just a tired, bitter queen…….he is a fucking bully and vile………….end of the srory

  • madge4ever

    Glad to see E calling hime out on it. Practice what your preach Elton

    • @madge4ever — To be clear, E! isn’t “calling” out anyone. The commentary here is mine alone, not that of E! News.

  • cheesemeister

    I think that Elton John’s attack on Madonna reveal his own insecurities. He does say some very important things in this interview, and I think it’s important to not lose sight of that.
    I suppose that the Rush Limbaugh thing could have been an attempt at getting acceptance from the kind of people who have always rejected him. People sometimes do that.
    I’ve also been bullied as an adult, both as a big person and as someone with mental illness. Thinking about it, the most recent incident was the result of two people who disliked themselves tried to make themselves feel bigger by making me feel small.