Sunday, May 31, 2009


"At some point, it would seem, people will stop looking to Oprah for this kind of guidance. This will never happen. Oprah's audience admires her as much for her failings as her successes. In real life, she has almost nothing in common with most of her viewers. She is an unapproachable billionaire with a private jet and homes around the country who hangs out with movie stars. She is not married and has no children. But television Oprah is a different person. She somehow manages to make herself believable as a down-to-earth everywoman. She is your girlfriend who struggles to control her weight and balance her work and personal life, just like you. When she recently related the story of how humiliated she felt when she arrived for a photo shoot to find that she couldn't fit into the clothes she was supposed to wear, she knew she had every member of the audience in her hand. Oprah's show is all about second and third and fourth chances to fix your life, and the promise that the next new thing to come along will be the one that finally works."

From Live Your Best Life Ever!, a Newsweek article by Weston Kosova and Pat Wingert, May 30, 2009


Anonymous said...

Someone who is Everyone is someone who is no one. Her newly invented religion, which now has millions of adherents, I understand, is based on Being Everyone.

Perhaps when one has gained all the economic power one can imagine, and now all the political power as well (via her anointee Obama), there is no power left to gain except God's. But that's not the most interesting thing about the phenomenon of Oprah; what's most interesting is that there is no Ophrah at all. People who write about her (as your post quotes) are knocking on the door of a house where no one is home.

I have just discovered your blog, by the way. I quite like it.

Paul Stilwell said...

Some excellent food for thought.

"Someone who is Everyone is someone who is no one."

"...what's most interesting is that there is no Oprah at all."

That to me, gets to the dynamic of popular figures who greatly influence the general culture.

Notice how disciples of self-help gurus become, in turn, self-help gurus themselves. The one thing Oprah sells is, well, Oprah. She becomes the reflection that people are, at core, uneasy with when looking at themselves (could the uneasiness be due to something completely different? They don't think on it for more than minutes); but to see the reflection as not only affirming in a popular figure, but as being the shared uncomfortable basis that is going somewhere and getting better, ever on the verge of the truly new, that is nearly irresistible - to those who have already decided it's all going to come from their own efforts.

And it's funny, how when one becomes acutely conscious of living the Good Life (Get the most out of...), one's actual unique, life experience becomes as nil.

Thanks for your comment, and for reading the blog. Come anytime; it's open house.