virus: Why does everybody love Oprah?

Reed Konsler (
Mon, 1 Feb 1999 13:35:37 -0500

>Date: Sat, 30 Jan 1999 17:49:37 -0600
>From: Zloduska <>
>Subject: Re: virus: Why does everybody love Oprah?
>Reed wrote:
>Well, I certainly don't love Oprah, as I've made quite clear. Sure, she
>was great in The Color Purple, and she isn't Pure Evil like Sally Jesse so
>I don't outright hate her, but she's a fraud like all the rest nonetheless.

What does she offer? A "fraud" would be someone that offers something and then intentionally doesn't deliver. Oprah offers light entertianment, discussion, and positive thinking. She delivers. I don't think she pretends to be an expert on anything. In fact, her appeal is mostly a result of her willingness to let you in on her human frailty combined with a strong spirit. [shrug] I don't get a chance to watch much, given that I work when her show is on...but the ones I've seen were pretty good.

>>That could be why Oprah is rich and famous, and why she asks
>>Richard to be on her show...she respects her audience, and
>>Richard does, too. I think people can feel that, even on TV.
>Yes, but ask yourself WHY she "respects" her audience. Ratings, my friend,
>ratings. My point is that all those warm and mushy feelings shared between
>home-viewer and blurry color-blob on screen are completely artifiical.

You're putting the cart before the horse. Oprah has great ratings becuase she's consistently sincere about a message people want to hear. She's the only talk-show host I know who encorages her audience to read books. I think that's pretty cool, don't you? I mean, reading is a good way to become informed, right?

>>As a hypothesis, I suspect that while you hold the elitist perspective
>>that you do, you aren't going to be very effective in influencing
>>most people.
>Well of course I won't. Oprah will always win; I don't have the legions of
>believers that she does, nor has anyone offered me a personal forum that I
>can use to reach millions of Americans. I don't whore myself out to a
>television audience, or even attempt mass communication or global exposure
>for myself.

"Whore myself out?" Gee, that's real non-biased language. Can you see how your perspective is inhibiting you from having greater influence? By associating mass appeal to prostitution (which we agree is "bad") you limit your ability to help people.

>That's because I don't care what other people think of me.

All together now!

"I am a rock! I am an i-i-is-land!
and a rock feels no pain!
and an island never cries!

dum dum dum dum


gimme a break, OK? Everyone cares what other people think of them. It's all about how you let people influence you and how you influence others. But if you deny it, that just means it all happens outside of your conscious control...pretty dangerous, if you ask me.

>See, I'm not trying to influence anyone's actions, only sharing my own
>opinions. Do you think I'm so naive that I actually believe my little
>self-indulgent rants would cause a person to put down the remote control
>and stop watching TV?

Funny, I hope that my rants might help people to think differently. I don't characterize them as little, or self-indulgent.

>And since when did I become an "elitist" for refusing or being physically
>incapable of watching TV? I never stated that I command everyone to be
>like me. I know that the majority of people merrily spend time doing so,
>including almost everyone I know, and I certainly haven't condemned *them*
>for it. I think people have the freedom to waste their time however they
>see fit. I do.

See..."waste their time" you see how you are continiously negating meaning? Oh,'s just a joke right? But it's a serious joke. It's a joke which made you excitied enough to defend. There is something of significance here FOR YOU, or you would have let it pass. But you invested the time.

Don't negate that investement by calling it a waste...there is so much meaning to find here.

>Ha! I won't deny holding any memes hostage, but my reasons go far beyond
>being a self-righteous little snot. Do you really think that Oprah's shows
>"help make the world a better place for everyone"???


>Pardon me, but that is sooooooo incredibly silly of you.

Is that an assertion? Or do you have some evidence you'ld like to back it up with?

>Tell me this: Which helps to make he world a better place for everyone?
>- - I sit in front of the television in my room, five days a week, for an
>hour, and stare at it in contemplation as she interrogates middle-aged
>women with childhood trauma.
>- - I volunteer my time (out of my busy schedule) at the local Women's Rape
>Crisis Center.

I think they both help make the world a better place. Oprah communicates a light message to a mass audience, and you carry a serious one to a more select group. I encourage everyone to take both as positive examples.

>I pick number two, and by the way, I do. Sorry I can't devote more of my
>attention to the fluffy, peachy, pseudo-reality of Ms. Winfrey and her gang
>of power-walkers, when things this side of Wonderland are so very grim at

I see your point. You don't have time to watch becuase you are too busy doing. I have a lot of respect for that. But there are other people who are less powerful than you right now...and many of them are served by Oprah. Eventually, they may not need her anymore. And what greater success could she hope for than that her audience grows beyond the need to watch her?

>There are enough abused and battered women that I know personally in this
>world, who need help, without Oprah on her soap box wringing her manicured
>hands over guests and whining in the tabloids about her tragic past. I
>think too many people in this country care about Oprah's constant
>weight-loss battle, and not enough care about the innocent people that are
>right now being slaughtered by bombs from the US military in Iraq. Yes, I
>am much more in grief over that than Oprah's plight.

People have to feel good about themselves before they can learn to love others. If Oprah helps people to accept their bodies and to master that part of their allowing herself to be made an example...then that is good. You have to master a sense of self first, then you can address issues like Middle East foreign policy. I know it might seem very trite to you...but body-image is really crippling for some people.

>>You have the freedom to make that choice, but I'd consider the
>>consequences pretty carefully.
>I'm baffled. What are the consequences of my poor opinion of daytime
>television talk shows?

Anyone on this list who liked Oprah will feel, by reading your posts, that goodness is opposed to her message. You would make them choose between Oprah and Iraq, or between Oprah and the Women's Shelter. Both are flase dichotomies. We can respect both...and that is the most effective message.

>I can tell you think I'm attacking Oprah and television in general for
>spite and because I'm a smarmy leprechaunish pseudo-intellectual, but that
>isn't so. She personally offends me, and that is my main reason for
>disliking her.

No, I don't think you're anything like that. I think you're a very good hearted person trying to help people around you. The other stuff is just a protective shell you don't need anymore. I think you could cut Oprah a break, is all.

>Mainly, it's that "I'm Every Woman" slogan that really gets my goat and
>raises the hair on the back of my neck. With that, her whole gimmick is
>"I'm a wholesome, wonderful person that ALL women can relate to, therefore
>you should all tune in faithfully."

I'm having a hard time figuring out what's wrong with that. Would you rather she said: "I'm better than you" or "I'm worse than you" or "you'll never be able to relate to me"? What would you like her to say...

..."Philosophy is just two old men arguing with each other"?

Does that appeal to you?

>This woman has a cook, a personal
>trainer, a hairdresser, a makeup artist and countless other luxuries. As a
>fiercely independent person trying to make my way through university and
>living modestly, I don't have fans or butlers or guest spots on 20/20, and
>I certainly do not identify with this woman. Excuse me Ms. Winfrey, but
>when's the last time you did your own laundry or even applied your own
>lipstick? We live in different worlds, and I don't buy into her fake
>chumminess and understanding. Rather, it makes me feel patronized. 'I'm
>every woman' is rather conceited and self-centered as well.

Cart before the horse, again. You're saying "money preceeds". She has stuff you don't have. I understand that feeling. I'm a grad student and don't have much money myself. There is a really unsettling feeling about being in debt, about buying food on's not easy. But that isn't here nor there. Money isn't everything. If you can make it at university you can make it in business. My sister can pull down $1000 a week as a waitress, her second job...she works at a credit union during the day. Cash is there for the just have to do something that people want done.

But, I suppose that would be "whoring", wouldn't it? University is a search for fulfilment like any other, and it involves sacrifices. It is tough...and that you find the energy to volunteer at the same time is really amazing. Your life could really be an example to other people. From what you've told me so far it has a number of very inspiring elements. I'd bet you'ld make a great talk-show host, if you wanted to.

>Secondly, it's a damn show. A set, a farce, and one hour of entertaiment,
>operating under the pretense of something "serious". No matter what
>subject, I don't take it seriously. Oh, so the new Oprah wants to "inform"
>the public, and offer enlightenment and therapy to all domesticated
>housewives? Yeah right. Money is behind everything on public television,
>but they want you to believe it's for other"I'm every
>woman...I *care* about you all." What a crock of bullshit.

I suppose that's one way of looking at it. I'm doubly impressed that you're so motivated despite having such a bitter view of the world. One can only imagine what you could accomplish if you sincerely believed that you could speak to "every woman". That potential excites me, I guess.

>In the end, those shows are about public idols like her preying on the
>weakness and suffering of her guests, and the gullibility of her audience.
>Then, the next day she shows us all how to make ornate holiday wreaths.
>Sure, when Oprah Winfrey interviews a rape/incest/mafia-torture survivor on
>national television to show her sensitivity, the tears shed are real, but
>do you think she spends a second's reflection on it the next day? No!
>It's on to cooking pastries and weaving tablecloths with Martha Stewart!
>On a scale, it all weighs out to be equally trivial in the end.

Actually, I think that's a strategy. You can't play a downer every day. People will turn off, and that doesn't do anyone any good. So you have to mix the tough with the fluff.

>But what is she *really* doing? In truth, it's just milking someone else's
>pain in order to provide a topic of discussion and further her own career.
>IMO, there is nothing more heartless and shallow than that. Am I supposed
>to sit in front of the television, without guilt, and drool all over myself
>like everyone else?


What an image! Youl'd make a great writer. Seriously, though...I suspect they aren't drooling...and not without guilt, either.

>>>My observation is that Philosophy has always been two old
>>>guys trying to disprove each other anyway. ;-)
>>So, not only is philosophy beyond most's also worthless
>>to those people who can understand it? Why do you even bother?
>>Don't wimp out with that sarcastic wink. What do you really think?
>I really, really think that you completely missed that joke, and have the
>sense of humor of a comatose Orthodox Roman-Catholic nun. No- even nuns,
>pieces of flint, and wombats show traces of humor.
>~kjs, who takes her talk show arguments DAMN seriously

Oh, I got the joke. I just felt that there was more of a story there. I think you'll agree I was right. ;-)


  Reed Konsler