I can’t stand Oprah Winfrey.Now, mind you, this is a very risky thing to say, as Oprah commands a fully deployable battalion of soccer moms who have a lot more pent-up rage lurking beneath those smug sunglasses and turtleneck sweaters than anyone can even begin to imagine.
The reason why I can’t stand Oprah has nothing to do with her popular talk show, or the heartwarming human-interest episodes or her “favorite things” (maybe a little). No, my problem with Oprah is based on her mass brainwashing of the American people.
For example, every few months, Oprah adds a new selection to her ever-popular Oprah’s Book Club. Recently, Oprah’s selection, “A Million Little Pieces” by James Frey came under fire after it was revealed that many of the facts in Frey’s books were more like, well, lies.
After supporting Frey on “Larry King Live, Winfrey invited Frey to appear on her show and, in what some columnists referred to as “tearing him a new one,” proceeded to explain exactly how he let the American people, and Oprah, down.
Now, pardon me if I can’t picture Oprah excitedly leafing through “Anna Karenina” on the set of her latest photo shoot for O magazine, or discussing “As I Lay Dying” with John Travolta, but are we supposed to believe Oprah is really reading these books? And if not, who is deceiving America more?
But the bigger problem is not that Frey’s book somehow slipped though Winfrey’s personal rigorous fact-checking policy; it’s the fact that Oprah’s Book Club exists.
Sure, it’s just peachy that Oprah has resurrected literacy among the “Regis and Kelly” set, but the mass conformity is just too much to bear. Oprah suggests a book, millions of housewives read the book – and millions of housewives anxiously await further instructions from Oprah.
Where’s the variety? Where’s the fun? We’re a nation who invented the Wild West, rock ‘n’ roll and “American Idol” (OK, bad example). We consecutively elected a schoolteacher, a peanut farmer and an actor (not to mention Richard Nixon) to our highest office. Unlike the rest of those monarch-lovin’ Europeans, we turned democratic when everyone else was pro-Isabella.
If we’re so individual, why are we waiting around for Queen Oprah to tell us what to read? Sure, some of the selections are classics, but looking for an “O” stamped on a light blue paperback isn’t the only way to read.
Secondly, there’s the smugness, the yelling, the giveaways. The banner on Winfrey’s Web site, oprah.com, proclaims, “Oprah.com is your leading source for information about love, life, self, relationships, food, home, spirit and health.”
Now, Oprah may know a thing or two about food, home and maybe even a little about health, but “self?” Oprah is my “leading source” about me? If Oprah wasn’t there when my friends successfully dared me to barrel-roll down a thorn-covered hill, I don’t think Oprah has a lot of room to tell me about “self.”
Sure, Oprah does swell things for people in need. For example, Oprah often gives away merchandise to members of her audience. While I’m sure this merchandise helps people, what value does Oprah have for human tragedy if she continually “fixes” problems by throwing money at them?
Now, for entertainment purposes, Oprah works well. The show is high-energy and the stories are compelling, but with so many different people out there, shouldn’t a woman who claims to be our leading source for self allow a little room for variety?
But then again, I’d take a free car.
Feature editor Darren White is a junior news-editorial journalism major from Tyler.