Oprah…

Okay so I heard Oprah has retired her show, actually I think even people in small villages in remote islands heard she was retiring her show considering the news and promo coverage it got… but that’s not what I’m blogging about tonight. What I wanted to talk about, was that when I heard she was hanging up the microphone I didn’t even care. Then that got me thinking… ‘Did anyone else care either?’ Then I thought, how did I end up not caring? Was it because I’m sick of the TV world bombarding me that much that I’d switched off at some point and not even noticed? Was it that I’m no longer at home during the day to watch the daytime queen? Had I at some point decided Ellen was better and just forgot about Oprah? Was I just too busy for Oprah? Did I feel like she’d lost her touch?

See the crazy thing is I used to love Oprah! I used to think she was the bees knees. I used to think ‘Wow you know she did it, she made something of herself, regardless of the obstacles life threw at her.’ And see that was me at one point, I wanted to give myself a goal, a dream and then like Oprah I was going to overcome whatever life threw at me, and anyone who tried to stop me being the best at whatever it was I was going to do, well they’d just have to get out of the way. As a young teenager that was cool to me, you know to aspire to be a world conqueror… to aim high and to want to do good too. Oprah did good stuff, and you could see it was important for those who she did this good stuff for, so I wanted to do that too.

So how did it come to pass, that she was no longer one of my heroes? At what point in my life did I decide that she was no longer one of the people I wanted to be like? More importantly… why did she disappear from my list of admirable people?

I’ve questioned myself a bit over the last couple of months, because I was always of the belief that your heroes are suppose to be one of the few constants in your life and after much deliberation I had managed to get it down to two things.  One of those things being that who she was… and what she was doing, was coming into direct conflict with another of my heroes… in fact my ultimate hero (being Michael Jackson). The other reason being that I had become disillusioned with who she was, and that I felt that she was no longer living up to my high expectations of what she should be able to achieve… in my opinion she had become a sell-out.


A sell out you say?

Yeah, at some point I had come to the conclusion that somewhere in her time line of daytime seasons, she had gone from the amazing woman who did great things for others, to the woman who was marketing herself to the white middle to upper class society of Americans. Somewhere in there, she had become just another marketing tool, discussing fad diet options and home decore. Suddenly the nice things she was doing for others (the giveaways) felt less like wonderful nice things, and more like advertising and marketing with a wow added to it all. Oprah had all the power that her giant audience gave her, she could have made real change, by encouraging people to adopt real values. She often stated that her biggest heroes were teachers and people in her audience would cheer with her, yet with all her influence (and we do know she has plenty of it)… the US of A still has one of the poorest education systems in the world… how is that even possible for a developed super power country, that is so often influenced by it’s own celebrities? Surely she had only to call the nation’s people to stand up for better education and people would cry unanimously that she was right yet again!

The ultimate moment when I really felt she had sold out, was when she worked against one of the stars who helped put her on the international scene. See she was big, there was no doubting that, but she wasn’t really breaking into the global market as well as she/her producers/network wanted to… that was until ’93 when she scored the interview of a lifetime… a several hour live… unscripted special with Michael Jackson… who at the time was the biggest thing on the planet… and more importantly… he was big overseas, especially Europe and Asia. This interview was BIG! It ranked as the 4th most watched TV event in US History, and the #1 most watched interview by anyone ever.

When the accusations started flying around about Michael, Oprah was one of the first people to jump ship. She went from declaring her love for him, to avoiding the conversation… and then in later years to subversively working against him.  When Michael was on trial in ’05 Oprah ran several “specials” on molestation around key dates. In fact it became a running trend… whenever Michael Jackson was in the news, she matched it with molestation and child abuse stories. The pinnacle of it all being airing those same style shows after his death. Oprah was clever enough to know that she was safe, after all her mainstream audience was now white middle class women, most of whom would have matching opinions about a black man who had too much money and did all those strange things the gossip magazines said he did.

So I guess, I lost my respect for Oprah through her willingness to not investigate the facts, to not even say “hey wait a minute, is this for real?” To sell-out and jump on the bandwagon of ridicule without first checking the facts. In the end I had to chose between two heroes, one who was not afraid to be true to himself, regardless of other people’s opinions, and one who couldn’t fight off the shadows of her past long enough to seek the truth.

So with all this disappointment stored up, and frustration that one hero could work against another even when I was waving my arms back and forth shouting “what are you DOING, you’re not this dumb!” I still have some sense of admiration for her accomplishments, particularly when I see people on her show in the audience, who reveal that through her inspiration/role modelling, that they have gone on to do great things for others, things they would never have thought to do if it hadn’t of been for Oprah. I watched one woman announce that she was a teacher in a poor district, making real change with her students, and that she did it because she felt she should/could due to Oprah’s example. Another woman and her daughter went to Africa and built a house for a community, because she was inspired by Oprah’s call to “Live your best life!”

So thank you Oprah, for demonstrating to us that even when you’re at the top it can still be hard to live inside your ideals and thank you for even in spite of everything still managing 25 years of inspiring everyday people, to do extraordinary things and to “Live their best life!”

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2 Responses to “Oprah…”

  1. Wow, girl! I feel exactly the same way. Allthough I probably wasn’t as into Oprah as you were, she really lost me when it started to become more about HER than her guests, the current topic and etc. It seemed fake in a way, it lacked emotions and heart + she looked bored!

    I’m happy about the Michael Jackson interview. I’m happy SHE did the first one. She got him in a way and she asked the right questions with both amuzement and excitement. Lovely interview 🙂

    Great post, girl. Glad I found it! Blog some more 🙂 xoxo

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