Friday, November 20, 2009


So in the last 24 hours, no fewer than two dozen people have sent me e-mails excitedly passing along the news that -- ding, dong, the witch is dead -- Oprah will be closing the curtain on her daily talk show in 2011. One would have to assume that "wiping the puss off the horrific face of a woman who was attacked by a chimp" was the final thing on the list of human experiences that Oprah hadn't yet achieved and once that was done, I mean, really, where else can you go?

Admittedly, this would be great news -- except for the fact that the end of Oprah's stranglehold on the American soccer mom attention span for an hour a day is pretty much meaningless. Sure, her show as it currently exists will be over, but Oprah always be with us. There's no way that anyone who's that thoroughly self-obsessed could fall off the public radar and spend the rest of her life sitting on a couch somewhere dropping bon-bons into her gaping maw like some sweet-toothed megalodon.

We'll still have the magazine (which features her face on the cover every single month), her book club (which consistently elevates crap and diminishes truly vital art until it all reaches the same level of easily-accessible, pop culture mediocrity), her radio and cable network (which push the Oprah brand harder than a street-corner pimp), and of course -- her daily TV show.

I say her daily TV show because what's really driving this decision is Oprah's admittedly impressive business savvy. She knows full-well that, ratings juggernaut or not, broadcast television is dying and cable and the internet is now where it's at. In other words, you can pretty much guarantee that she'll be moving her show to her own cable channel come 2011 -- 2012 at the very latest (not coincidentally, the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar).

Make no mistake: In the end, Oprah's decision makes her simply the latest celebrity cash, ahem, cow to dump the networks -- but she ain't going anywhere.

(Update: This is great.)


BenoƮt from Ottawa said...

I agree completely, fwiw.

Anonymous said...

On the book club end of things, how sweet was the Franzen debacle?

In 1996...maybe 97...I was posting what, at the time, was a blog before the term had been coined. I wrote a bit about Oprah deciding to cancel Dennis Rodman as a guest and NOT promote his book, "Bad As I Wanna Be."
As far as I could tell, Dennis Rodman was precisely the perfect thing for any daytime talk show Oprah/Springer interview. Greatest rebounder in NBA history, yet only 6'8"...with rainbow hair, piercings and attitude.
But Oprah was all sniffy and arrogant about D's tales of groupies and NBA off court badness.
Brother...what I wouldn't give for response like that on my pathetic wee blog these days. In 24 hours, I had something like 800 ANGRY responses from some seriously PISSED OFF Opramaniacs.

You right, though...she ain't going away.
Neither are you.
Neither am I.
I guess it's just a matter of who's gettin' paid, eh?
No. Wait. There's something more important than that...something more pure...
Remind me.

Dan said...

Moving to her own channel? I figured she'd want to take a prominent place after the next election (hopefully not running mate, but maybe the head of something).

hollygirl78 said... know I love ya, buddy, but talk about the pot and the fucking kettle. You're a very young guy who's already published a memoir (you got clean from drugs, big major unique achievement there, huh?) and there's been enough navel-gazing on your blog to make a case that you're self-obsessed, too. Besides, all of the book club books haven't been crap. Elie Wiesel's Night is one of the finest books ever written. (If you say it isn't, your determination to just hate whatever's "popular" has gone too far, dude.) The Poisonwood Bible is quite good. Wally Lamb's first novel was so-so, but the second one was pretty good.

Besides, as someone who wants to feed his child by WRITING, how can you be so hateful to a woman who made a writer a month a millionaire for years?

And if she wanted to make you a millionaire by picking YOUR book, you'd be down on your knees to kiss her feet in one point two seconds...and you know it. :-P

Chez said...

No, of course a lot of the books Oprah recommends aren't crap -- some are very, very good, which is why I said that (that would be the part about truly vital art). My issue has always been with the Oprah "brand" and the way it tends to pop culturize everything it touches. True, it doesn't change the quality of the work itself -- but it changes how it's perceived. And yes, I'm a huge fucking snob when it comes to books.

As for getting her sacred blessing myself -- first of all, it's obviously never going to happen. Second, I've always said -- make my book a huge success and I promise you that if I ever get on her show I'll tell her she annoys the piss out of me.

And the memoir: I agree that kicking drugs is thoroughly meaningless. What makes the story in DST even mildly worth relaying is the 9/11 angle. That's the shock of the story -- that confluence of events.

Dan said...

oh oh oh! Just for the fun:


Money quote from the opening line:

Oprah Winfrey said Friday the decision to end her show in 2011 came "after much prayer and careful thought."

Prayer? Seriously?

Could it be that she's switched sides and will be hooking her caboose to the Palin train?

Naah, just kidding. The article is more about OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.

There ya go.

Chez said...


That's subtle.

Vermillion said...

Here's the thing: I can't hate Oprah.

Don't get me wrong. I am totally with you on the self-absorption and the pop culture hijacking. Oh, and the mediocre media peddling.

I just can't hate her, for the simple reason that she managed to do all those things, when just about all the evidence says she shouldn't have.

Look at it from my perspective: even if we ignore the hard-luck story, this is still a single black woman who managed to create a media empire centered around her. Something that was once thought to be the province of old men in large boardrooms has been wrestled to the ground and beaten within an inch of its life by her. By goddamn Oprah.

Yeah she has her face on every issue of her magazine. But then I look at all the other magazines, and those faces are far more alien to me. I can't look at those and honestly say "my niece can be that". But she can like Oprah. I hope to God she only gets the money, but still.

So I totally get why she is so self-focused. If I pulled that kind of shit off, I would want to shove it down people's throats too.

Just like Obama (who I think only got her support thanks to the "O" name), she doesn't have to do a damn thing that is worthwhile (even thought they wouldn't hurt) to actually be relevant; just the fact that she got in such a position is remarkable and historical enough.

And that is worst thing about her. Because for all the absolute garbage she pulls, she still gets that little bit of credit. So, yeah, even if her show goes off the air, and her network closes, and her magazine and books and all that goes away, her very existence is now irrefutable.

She has achieved immortality.

Gah, I want to punch something now.

Deborah said...

I was all set to comment...and then I read everyone else's stuff and realized that, weird as this sounds, I agree with pretty much every poster. Even though they don't agree with each other. Like Vermilion, I have a grudging respect for her and what she's accomplished. But she has, indeed, gone off the rails; in short, she takes herself too seriously and is way too self-important for her own good. But - and again, this is back to Vermilion - name me someone in her position of power who HASN'T done the same exact thing? Still, when I saw the "headlines" about her show, I didn't even bother to read the articles, because I knew what was coming...or going, which is her show to her network.

Trixi said...

Oprah interviews Sarah Palin on Monday, and quits her job on Friday. You do the math.

Shannon from Saskatoon said...

I am one broken record, seldom as I call in, a bore is a bore.

A quote I saw, and one I hope helps us all accept how small we all are:

Excerpted from "Deer Hunting with Jesus" blog: Joe Bageant" Nov. 2009

America is a society at the edge of a cliff. Many people fall over the cliff but instead of building a fence, America sends middle class professionals down in a basket to pick the pockets of the dead,,,The prevailing philosophy seems to be "Why exercise an ounce of mercy when you can expend a pound of cruelty?"

Bill White said...

Maybe that Oprah can do the 7 o'clock hour that Lou Dobbs left open. Nah, they would rather put that King fella on--which is exciting as watching my Plumber's Goop dry. That network sounds like they love losing to Commie Olbermann and Patriotic Bill O.

Lisa said...

I too have to come to the defense of her book club; well, a little.

She reintroduced me to Faulkner, who was rammed down my throat in high school but now I'm able to immerse myself in completely and actually understand.

Also I don't think I would've even read the back cover of Pillars of the Earth if it hadn't been for her interview with Ken Follett. Now it's one of my desert island books and I'm getting ready to reread it.

So yeah, thanks for that Okra.

Dean Sanderson said...

no doubt Oprah's departure in 2011 will be a key event in the apocalypse scheduled for 2012