The Cult of Oprah

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There’s Bono, there’s Madonna, there’s Cher, and there’s Oprah! None of these people needs a last name; we all know who they are. Cher is an actress, as well as a singer, and Oprah is a superstar, as well as an actress. I loved Oprah in The Color Purple, but I truly suffered through Beloved, hating the film and Oprah’s character with equal venom.

When Oprah began her talk show, a lot of my friends watched her with a dedication, fascination, and the awe usually reserved for religious converts talking about their “personal savior.” Maybe because I was not home from work, I really didn’t watch her show. Of course, she made headlines with her success and her generosity, and she seemed to be the kind of woman you really couldn’t say much negative about. What’s not to like?

When Oprah made headlines a while back for “making” and then “breaking” a writer, I took notice—maybe a little more than I had in the past. Keep in mind, I had never seen her shows. I did have books given to me because they were on Oprah’s list, and I read them dutifully. Some I liked okay, some I didn’t. Still, I began to realize that she was a lot more influential than I had given her credit for being.

Oprah made a big splash when she came out strong for Obama during the presidential campaign. Although I was predisposed to vote for Obama anyway, her endorsement turned me off. Why would a celebrity think their endorsement of a candidate would influence an election? You like him, fine. You like her, fine. You are an entertainer. Oprah seemed to be taking her own press notices as the most powerful woman in the world a bit too seriously.

Finally, several months ago, I turned on the Oprah show at four in the afternoon for the first time. It was fairly fluffy; nothing particularly heavy was discussed. Several women who felt they needed a “glamour makeover” were selected to receive one on the show. These makeovers are always entertaining enough to watch. Usually, women are made to look as plain and unfashionable as possible and then transformed into gorgeous, radiant creatures, complete with a new hair color and style, full makeup where they had worn none before, including false eyelashes, and the chicest clothing available to anyone (if money is no object, that is). Nonetheless, it’s a fun thing to watch.

When the camera shifted to Oprah, she seemed to smirk at the “before” women and actually yawned several times at the “after” women. It seemed apparent to me that she disliked doing this type of segment on her show. Her boredom with and disdain for the subject women was perfectly obvious. I sort of wondered why she had agreed to this “before and after” if she found it unpleasant.

I returned for another show a few days later, and Oprah had some celebrity or another on her show. She fawned over the person shamelessly. It was actually embarrassing to watch.

The last time I viewed Oprah, Oprah had a New Age–type psychologist or psychiatrist as her guest. The guy was sort of a crackpot, in my opinion. She nodded encouragement to him constantly and frequently interjected comments to her audience about the merits of what the good doctor was saying. I have never been a fan of Dr. Phil either, as I also put him under the “medical quackery” entertainment category. Of course, it’s been publicized that Dr. Jan Adams (a cosmetic surgeon) appeared on her show not long before he operated on Kayne West’s mother, who died tragically of “surgical complications.” Oprah seemed to be showing her endorsement of Dr. Adams, even telling one of her audience members she could “hook her up” with the surgeon.

That was the last time I watched the Oprah show. I had had enough. Yes, I agree she’s generous with her money, and that’s nice. But I fail to see the appeal of this self-important, arrogant, and condescending person who actually has an influence on a great number of people. I guess either you get it or you don’t, and obviously, I don’t.


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