• Mon, Mar 21 2011

Can Someone Explain Why Everyone Loves Oprah?

Because I don’t get it.

Look, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Oprah. And to be fair, I’ve only watched a few episodes, recently, because I wanted to understand the phenomenon since she’s in her last season. And I know about the weight issues, and her childhood issues and how nice it is that she seems to genuinely invested in helping people. Basically, I want to make it clear that she seems like a good person. I’m not jumping up and down screaming “I hate Oprah!” And I think that the results of her work are terrific – I think she gets people talking about topics that might have been considered taboo, and inspires more people to read, and watch The Way We Were on the OWN channel, which is a very enjoyable movie.

All that said, I just don’t get why every woman in America loves her to an extent that Liz Lemon – my imaginary friend – says that she worships at the church of Oprah.

When I watched these episodes, I was really ready to be swept off my feet by this lady with the nicely coiffed hair. I mean, Ellen DeGeneres can sweep me off my feet just by doing a fun little dance. But I wasn’t swept away by Oprah, and I’m really confused about why one of my junior high advisors is suddenly the most famous woman in America.

Interesting deviation into my personal life:I once had a junior high teacher. Full stop! No, she was fond of sitting very close to people and saying things like “you need to let your potential soar like a bird!” and “you have all the possibilities in the world inside of you!” I found her terrifying and overwhelming. I never knew how I was supposed to respond to any of that. I believe I said “oh, okay, that’s…yay. Good. I like birds.” I always felt like saying “what if I have some of the world’s possibilities inside me, but not the scary ones? Not the ‘becoming a serial killer’ ones?” Other than that, I just don’t believe potential is a thing that soars, so much as kind of galumphs slowly and trips a lot but, at best lumbers on relentlessly, like a zombie or yeti.

I keep feeling like the “soar like a bird” lines are the sorts of things Oprah says, with wonderful, sweeping music behind them that makes them believable. But I’m not sure these statements are believable. I really think a lot of it might just be the soundtrack. Basically, I’m reluctant to believe in drastic alterations of of human nature that occur from appearing on television and crying. I’m sure there is some kind of catharsis that people derive from being in Oprah’s presence, but I sort of think that it would be better for some of the people on Oprah’s show to be in therapy, working through their issues with a professional over years.

I also feel like there are some contradictions going on – say, doing shows on the topic of poverty, and encouraging women to spend less, but then showcasing products in a way that makes women… want to go out and buy products.

Maybe I’m just too cynical to be into Oprah, though. Because I believe in a slow slog rather than magical transformations. I feel like  this woman is selling the “love yourself because you’re courageous and everything will be okay!” line of logic that sets off all my skeptic alarms.

I really do want to understand why other people seem to love her as much as they do, because I know I’m in the minority. Is it her personal struggles? Her giveaways? Her inspiring messages about potential?

That said, the OWN channel. Elizabeth. The Way We Were. Gosh, that’s just an enjoyable channel.

Share This Post:
  • ERW

    Yes. My God, yes.

  • Chickalupe

    THANK YOU! I don’t hate Oprah, but I’ve never really understood the strange semi-worship and obsession women are almost expected to have of her. I, too, have only watched a few shows, and wasn’t too personally impressed by her. I did like when she had Josh Groban as a guest though, mostly because I love him.

  • cc

    I dont like certain things about her at all.
    I think she is a wolf in sheeps clothing… She tries to act like she treats everyone fairly and equal but just if one is a good reader of people you can see she is fake. Just look at the way she worships Barrack Hussain Obama. But then when she had Sarah Palin and Pres George W Bush on her shows, she was super fake, trying to be nice and play equal but it showed all over her. Not that I have any interest in politics as Im not American.
    And, she always brings up black issues. I know a lot of people who think that SHE is racist. And I know a lot of people who no longer watch her show.
    She tries to be real but she isnt. Same with Tyra Banks (who would love to be the next oprah)

    • marissa

      I do agree she picks and chooses her aggressive interviewing style. For example, she was all for ripping apart James Frey for lying to her, but she doesn’t mind playing nice to people like George W. Bush who have zero qualms deceiving people.

  • Geek Porn Girl

    I’ve been writing about my issues with Oprah for quite a while. I think she builds and feeds women’s cultural insecurity, and that this is a reflection of her own insecurity. She’s using a national stage to work out her own issues. Ick. This was one of my last posts on the topic: http://geekporngirl.com/2011/02/03/oprah-needs-to-have-a-chat-with-taylor-momsen/

  • Lo

    Magical affirmations set off my skeptic alarms too, whoever they’re from. I do find that the best way to deal with the ‘your potential is a bird that needs to soar free!’ stuff is to get nitpicky. For example, my potential is, indeed, a bird: a kakapo. It spent a long time in an environment without natural predators, and it filled its evolutionary niche quite happily, waddling around by day and making weird booming sounds by night. Then sundry vermin arrived and my potential was totally buggered because it couldn’t fly. There are a few people who like its podgy little face and take care of it, but the fact remains that it doesn’t do anything very quickly.

  • Tara

    same here!! my coworkers all DVR her show, but I’m just not that into her. I’m more of a Regis and Kelly girl :)

  • Ann

    I like her because she’s a good role model for us young black women. It’s rare to see a black woman like Oprah make it big all on her own. She has really broken the glass ceiling, including Michelle and Barack Obama. It’s truly inspiring.

    With that said, her show is too boring for my interest, lol. Hey I’m just a college student.

  • SLS

    I have had a problem with Oprah’s giving tons of money and presents to her audience for no reason and then having guests appear who really need help and not offering them anything. For example, the women soldiers who had returned from Iraq with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and could lose their children and were having trouble getting jobs…..I feel that is using people for their story when she could easily have helped these women even by just making sure they got the help they needed. I feel that she has people come on her show because they have a depressing story but never offers them the help they need…..and let’s face it….yes, she does donate to some causes but to start your own network when you could actually be changing homeless people’s lives…..Sorry…..Not O.K. and not a good example for anyone. Look at BonJovi or Melinda & Bill Gates or Warren Buffet,etc. That is what she could be doing with her “however many” billion dollars she has.

  • drea

    The main thing that bothers me abot Oprah is that her body weight is always fluctuating, which is no big deal one it’s own, but when she’s fat we’re supposed to be proud of her for not responding to social pressure to be thin, but when she’s thin we’re supposed to congratulate her for becoming empowered and loseing the weight.

    • taylor

      YES! And then she gives weight and nutrition advice. WHY in the world would people take advice from someone so unhealthy? In all the time she’s been on TV, her weight hasn’t stayed steady for very long. And she switches religions sometimes too. She just seems like a confused person, which is not the kind of person I want to take advice from.

  • Henri Borno

    Yeah sure, she doesn’t judge. She constantly doesn’t judge that’s her thing. Neither does Barbara Streissand. lol

  • Henri Borno

    Also, she could teach you this. Once a concept, now a friend. hah.

    Get it?

    One concept with another is a new better even newer ultimate concept.

    not to judge, and to be a friend of Oprah, is not to judge, oprahs friends.

  • Henri Borno

    Her non judgemental attitude is so profound that it emanates through the universe. I’m going to write a book just on it.
    Listen, what do you hear? Is it an echo, or a sound? Is it bliss, or just your own interpretation, of bliss. How is this happiness to endure when so profoundly sometimes we judge it. Even what I just said, did you just judge it, as good, or bad? mmm.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002470162331 Henri Thomas Borno