Monday, December 10, 2007

"O" Say Can You See...

I make no attempt to hide the fact that I hate Oprah Winfrey the way the French hate soap and water.

Since starting this little experiment of mine, I've devoted a pretty fair amount of copy to Quixotically attempting to alert the public to the true nature of this self-obsessed succubus.

In addition to the usual semi-subtle mockery (There's No "I" in Oprah/10.25.06), I've occasionally pulled no punches when it comes to my bitter loathe for Oprah and my belief that America needs to break free of the bizarre hypnotic spell she seems to have cast over it.

Back in January, I said this:

"Understanding that Oprah is not all that she appears to be is a little like being Rowdy Roddy Piper's character in the John Carpenter cult-classic They Live: you've got the glasses on and you seem to be the only one among the sleeping sheep who has any idea that there's a wolf in your midst, and of course when you try to warn others no one will believe you. Each year, this multi-media leviathan grows larger and more powerful, threatening to eventually become a black hole which will consume all culture as we know it -- absorbing and assimilating it like the Borg then spitting it back out in a fresh, new package of Oprah-approved, soccer-mom-ready banality. What makes Oprah (awful) however isn't so much her homogenous appeal to the lowest common denominator -- or the fact that she seems to drag every bit of authentically vital art down with her; it's the simple fact that she is quite possibly self-obsession and solipsism incarnate -- no matter how hard she works to make people believe otherwise. Last year alone, she berated James Frey not because he lied to America but because he lied to her; she held a "Legends Ball" in which she supposedly paid homage to black female pioneers and trendsetters just like her; she prepared to open an unnecessarily expensive school for young girls in Africa, making sure the cameras were always there to get pictures of her (wearing long, false eye-lashes and heavy make-up no less) as she came riding in to the rescue in her learjet; and of course, her face once again adorned the cover of every single issue of her magazine throughout the year. There's nothing genuine, uncalculated or purely altruistic about Oprah."

Now, this monster promotional machine on two trunk-like legs wants your vote.

Not for her -- well, not technically anyway -- but for Barack Obama. In case you've been trapped under something heavy and have therefore been unable to get near any media outlet whatsoever in the past few days, Oprah's latest incarnation is that of a political Svengali -- taking her hand-picked candidate out on the road for a series of sold-out campaign rallies. So far, all of the events have been held in the kinds of venues typically reserved for Ozzfests and monster truck shows; the crowd at South Carolina's Williams-Brice stadium alone topped out at just over 30,000.

As always, when Oprah talks, stupid people listen -- and "Oprahpalooza" may as well be the equivalent of an obligatory pilgrimage to Mecca for every middle-class housewife within a 100-mile radius of wherever it sets up shop.

Please understand, I'm fortunate enough to have met Barack Obama, and while I haven't yet made a decision as to who I'll be voting for in next year's presidential election, there's no denying that Obama is both sharp and incredibly personable; he has "The 'It' Factor" in excess. I have no doubt that he's at least as worthwhile a candidate as any of the other dolts vying for the same prize, if not much moreso. The problem isn't Obama himself, nor his qualifications -- or even a possible lack thereof -- to be President of the United States; the problem is the danger inherent in applying the time-tested "Oprah Effect" to something as vitally important (theoretically anyway) as a national election. It's one thing for the Queen of the Television Talk Show to rouse her zombified minions from their suburban slumber and rally them behind whatever crap book she happens to have read recently; it's another thing entirely for her to willfully encourage that same army of the walking brain-dead to have not so much a say in the future of the entire country as to have her say. From what I've seen, Oprah's acolytes don't generally comparative shop when their cultural matriarch issues a decree; when Miss O' says jump, they not only say "How high?" but "In which direction?" "How many times?" and "Can I get you a Twinkie when I'm done?"

The idea of celebrities endorsing political candidates or causes has always made me slightly wary, not because their opinions aren't valid or because they somehow shouldn't benefit from the same liberties as the rest of the unwashed masses, but because there are so many people out there who, for God-knows-what reason, take their word as gospel. I don't care whether you're Charlton Heston supporting both concealed weapons permits for six-year-olds and any candidate who believes likewise, or the idiots in Rage Against the Machine, screaming at their overly-impressionable audience that the system is fucking them and therefore must be destroyed; if the overall message isn't "Don't just listen to me -- think for yourself," then it's a message that should be taken with a grain of salt for the good of us all, no matter who it's coming from.

It remains to be seen of course whether Oprah's opinion as to who should be the next president carries as much weight as, say, her shoes (and in the meantime Barack Obama isn't likely to spit in the face of her promotional largesse) but I'd hate to think that, in the end, a smart and savvy candidate didn't ascend to the highest office in the land because he inspired a country so much as because he inspired a TV mogul who's strangely been allowed to become an avatar for each and every person in that country, and the arbiter of so much of that country's culture.

I'm not big on Oprah shoving her tastes down our collective throat as it is, but Lord knows a lot of us have already given her the authority to do just that.

Now imagine an Oprah-Approved President, one who considers himself indebted to her.

Me -- I'm waiting to see who Maury Povich gets behind.


Bob in Tennessee said...

Amen brother.

Anonymous said...

"Each year, this multi-media leviathan grows larger and more powerful, threatening to eventually become a black hole which will consume all culture as we know it -- absorbing and assimilating it like the Borg then spitting it back out in a fresh, new package of Oprah-approved, soccer-mom-ready banality."

who cares, as long as she's for gay marriage! :)

Chez said...

Nothing like a one-issue voter man.

Nancy said...

Well, it's about time.

Monique said...

She's trying to get the "black vote". She seems to be forgetting that you can't be a convicted felon if you want to vote.

On a side note, I can see a giant Cloverfield poster from up here. If you come up to the office, look over towards Times Sq from the windows behind the front desk and you'll see it. Fucking metal.

Vicki said...

Is Oprah "running" vicariously?

One strike for Obama. It's still early though, long enough to dig themselves some deeper holes.

Chez said...

Bit of a low blow there Ms. Monique. Somewhere Don Rickles and Lisa Lampanelli just got their wings I suppose.

Let the Cloverfield madness begin. : )

Vermillion said...

My word.

Does this mean, if Obama is elected, our current terror level scale will be replaced with a "Oprah's Va-Jay-Jay" meter? The more its painin', the greater the danger.

Manny said...

Sorry to tell you this bro, but just like Oprah's waistline says to elastic, "Resistance is futile". You might as well Jayne to quit her job, pack on the pounds and squirt out some Mini-Malcontents.

Harris said...

More than 56 million people voted for Bush in 2004. Traditionally the tallest candidate in the race wins. Voters actually select a candidate based on 30-second attack ads produced by the opposing campaign. Could we really do any worse by listening to Oprah?

Chez said...

I like Obama, but if Oprah manages to ascend to a cabinet position or an ambassadorship (does it really sound all that implausible?) then we'll be one step closer to her inevitable showdown with the Nazarene and the end of days.

Thomas said...

Sadly, there are no female, Asian candidates for Maury to "get behind"... Because if there were, he'd be there faster than you can say "yoooooouuuuuu ARE the father!"

BV said...

Whenever I see Oprah and Obama on the news I get this image in my mind and it makes me laugh.

In case my html is lacking..

Blonde Savant said...

True story:
I was at Borders wandering around a few weeks ago, just before closing time. I came across a book that I had heard good things about (and have since forgotten the title of). I picked it up for further investigation, which is when I saw it. Up in the corner. The "Oprah Book Club" sticker.
Thinking I was alone, I said to myself, "Fucking Oprah, ruins everything..." (I talk to myself a lot). I heard someone laughing, and I truned around to find an employee behind me, cracking up. I started to apologize, which is an automatic response since I often say things that offend people, but he stopped me and said, "No, you're absolutely right. She does ruin everything."

I would like to add that I live in Santa Barbara, which is about five minutes north of Oprah's big ass house in Montecito, and we are frequently subjected to her giant face yellng at us in commercials endorsing the local news.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely hate that, given my longtime history of lurking on your blog and silently (mostly) agreeing with you, I have to comment on a post in which I defend Oprah.

Here's the thing. I hate her as much as you do. I never much minded her endorsement of books and products; that much is par for the course in my opinion in the entertainment industry and I can't fault someone for being exceptionally successful. I was indifferent to her until I read about the excesses, the waste, and the obvious public relation move that was her school in South Africa. I felt she could have helped so many more children so much more effectively with (slightly) less publicity that she got. I hate to admit it, but I felt a little vindicated when things started to fall apart down there.

Despite all that, I don't feel her endorsement of Barack is all that out of order. Motivating people to at least pay attention to the election is, I think, a worthwhile cause. If I were a public figure as powerful as she was, and I saw a huge discrepancy between the way I imagined my country should be and the way it was in fact being run, I'd consider it my duty to convince as many people as possible to vote for the person I thought could change things. Maybe I'm biased by the fact that I like Obama but, given the state of the US at the moment, I'd consider it more irresponsible if she did norhing to motivate her audience towards positive change.

Bottom line: hate her as much as you do. Honestly. But if she could help this country in the slightest by getting Middle America to vote for a reasonable, relatively peaceful candidate, I think she'd be negligent if she didn't get involved in one way or another.

foolery said...

As a person with two trunk-like legs, I am offended. No I'm not.

At least she's not getting in the way of my beer preferences. Life as I know it would be OVER if she starts dictating THAT.

Bunche said...

Try being one of the .02 black people who sees through Oprah for the fucking phony that she is, a modern day empowered Hattie McDaniel who simultaneously caters to the white audience that wants their "wisdom" spoon fed to them by a black chick while appealing to the lowest common denominator sector of the black female audience with her sitch it on/switch it off homegirlism and affected "ghettospeak" asides.

Christ, I hate that cow. She's an embarrassment to melanin everywhere.