virus: Oprah who?

Reed Konsler (
Tue, 2 Feb 1999 12:35:34 -0500

>Date: Tue, 02 Feb 1999 02:21:52 -0600
>From: Zloduska <>
>Subject: Re: virus: Why does everybody love Oprah?


>I used the word "fraud", but I think I meant "phony", as in the way her
>show is fake and pretentious, pretending to be something more than it
>actually is. Kind of like 'salvation', judging from the kind of worship
>I've seen demonstrated by the national Cult de la Oprah.

You've admitted that you don't watch much TV, so you haven't seen many of Oprah's programs. What the "national Cult de la Oprah" does is not always what she intends. I don't think that Oprah ever offered "salvation" to anyone. If people worship her, it is becuase they have a very weak sense of self...and she has stated her desire to help them gain a stronger one. What could be more sincere?

>>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?
>Not if it's freakin' Danielle Steele! I know, I'm being very cynical
>here...but I think it's not only a case of Oprah spoon-feeding the public
>what she thinks is good for them, but also feeding the public what they
>want to devour, which is usually junk food, so to speak.

The analogy is a poor one becuase Oprah is not their mommy. She has no ability to dictate taste to the public...she has to negotiate. The audience probably never reads at all. So she encourages them to read Danielle Steele...and they get used to going into the book store and the library. Maybe when they run out of Steele books they try something more substantive.

Isn't that how we all started? I for one, didn't plunge right into Zinn's _People's History of the United States_ at age 8. I read "The Three Investigators" and Piers Anthony's Xanth series. It was years and years before I ever looked into non-fiction.

Oprah's audience is older. She offers them the first step of that journey. What is so phoney about that?


>Why do you keep assuming that I want greater "influence" over people? The
>only people I think I have influence on now are my friends, and we already
>think so much alike that this isn't hard to do.

That sounds exactly like a cult, if you ask me. Could you please re-read those sentences three times and really think about them. Is what you have described something which you really want?

>By the way, aren't you kind of "selling yourself" when you promote
>yourself to the point of becoming a huge celebrity?

I suppose so. [whiney voice] "I just want to be loved, is that so wrong?"


>Gah, no need to mock me with a little song and dance. I still would like
>to know why you think I should want to take over the world!

I think you're exagerating. I said everyone cares about what other people think and that everyone would like to influence other people. There are few people (and I don't support them) that want to take over the world.

>Stop telling me what I do and do not feel or want.

OK, you tell me: what do you really want?

[standard response at this point is: "to be left alone". Can you move beyond that block?]

>Besides, that was a bit out of
>context. See, I don't deny that I care what my friends, family and others
>think of me, but I believe I said that I don't want to get on national
>television and preach about myself and what I think is right because "I
>don't care what others think of me". At least not enough for it to effect
>me greatly.

If you don't what the job, why do you dis Oprah so much? There will be TV and there will be TV talk-shows. By the standards of TV talk-shows, hers is quite good. What are you pissed by? Oprah, TV, the world? She's doing a job you don't want to do. Frankly, I don't want to do it either. Whay can't you leave her in peace?

>>Funny, I hope that my rants might help people to think differently.
>>I don't characterize them as little, or self-indulgent.
>Well, I was being mostly sarcastic anyways, because of what I assumed was a
>very condescending attitude towards me. My ranting *is* self-indulgent,
>however I don't think I'm wrong or stupid, of course.

I'm willing to settle for half the loaf...for now.

>>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.
>I don't follow you here.

:-) I realize that.
Let's start smaller, so I don't have to act like some kind of professor: What do you think differentiates "useful work" from "a waste of time"

>>Is that an assertion? Or do you have some evidence you'ld like
>>to back it up with?
>Well, do you have evidence that Oprah's show cures the world's ills? The
>words "a better place for everyone" seem a bit far-fetched and like an
>exaggeration to me.

Oprah has high ratings. Numerous people testify to the positive effect she has had on their lives. She is loved and even "worshiped" by millions. What are the specific requirements for "curing the world's ills" and when did anyone claim that was her goal? Making the world a little better for a lot of people doesn't solve everything...but it is a positive step.

>My only problem with this is all the people I've seen who watch her. My
>memory reminds me that those I've known are mostly elderly folk who do so
>because they have nothing better to do, and it's the mental equivalent of
>bubblegum. And isn't that self-defeating to her, if her goal is to somehow
>free her audience? I doubt it.

It is terrible that we've created a culture in which the elderly often feel they have no role. Maybe we should suggest that Oprah have some shows about elderly people finding things to do?

>Point taken, and I'll accept that she could positively influence someone to
>say, "Hey, I'm alright, look at what a mess she is!" Body-image is all
>well and good, but I still think too many people are zonked out in front of
>the tube, when they don't even give a damn about the atrocities committed
>by their own government.

No argument from me. The question is, how do we change that. I say we get on TV and encorage people to do something else, like read books...oops, I think Oprah is already doing that.

>>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.
>Well, my point is, so what if they do, and I have changed their minds? I
>still think I'm entitled and justified to be critical of Oprah and not like

Oh, sure. But it's technically fallacious to argue that she's bad becuase there are important things she doesn't do or address. If she has a net positive effect, even a minor one, that is positive. Holding up great goods she didn't do or great ills she didn't solve doesn't change anything.

>If others on the list are convinced I'm right, then their opinion of
>her wasn't very strong to begin with...And if everyone on this list hates
>her, so what?! She's her own woman (and every woman, as the case may be)
>who can take it, so it doesn't matter.

I'm not so concerned about Oprah as I am about all those people you say "worship" her. I'd like to think we could pursuade them to be logical, reasonable people who could act with the courage of their convictions. It would help if, when they came to us, we didn't make them feel inferior simply becuase they read Danielle Steel before they got their subscription to the New York Times.

>>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.
>But why does she deserve one? She is not aware of my existence at all, yet
>she has publicly put herself on display, and therefore open to criticism.
>And if Oprah did know me, it would be her right to insult me as much as she

Reading that makes me cringe. I mean...we have libel and slander laws which technically limit that right. Plus, while we all have rights, common decency limits the extent to which we exercise them when they might harm others...wouldn't you agree?

>I guess it doesn't matter to me what Oprah's slogan is anymore...
>But something _honest_ would be a nice change.

I'm game...what would you suggest as a new, _honest_,slogan for Oprah?

>*mock horror* "Nooooooooo!" I think if you knew me in real
>life, you'd soil yourself in laughter with that mental image in your head.

I don't follow you.

>Ah, I really don't have a bitter view of the world. Actually, I think it's
>more positive than most. A lot of people think that human nature is awful,
>the world is lost, and with some "apocalypse" approaching, we are doomed
>unless we find some solution or salvation. Instead, I think that Nature is
>perfect, everything in the world starts out *right*, only most of us humans
>screw it up. People are born perfect as infants, but unfortunately we
>don't stay like children for long. I don't believe in Original Sin or that
>all people are inherently wicked, or in "evil". I do believe in Love,
>though. I think the state of reality is mostly beautiful. I don't think
>there is any certain meaning to Life, except perhaps the personal search
>for meaning itself, but I'm perfectly happy with that, or without a God or
>saviour exisiting.

I agree with that. Furthermore, I think that people have the ability to set right what they tend to screw up.

>I'm an extreme person, with little that exists as in between for me. I
>only seem pretty sour now because we're dealing with what I do *not* like.
>Had we been talking about something I love, I could go on positively raving
>for hours. What I love/like, I *really* love, and what I don't like, I
>really despise. I've been told that when I find something I like, I latch
>on to it tightly and spread it like the gospel, but the opposite is also true.

OK, then we can talk about something you really love. I think we should focus on positive things, in general, anyway. Less sarcasm, more happiness...better for everyone.

>Nope. I can't help but get the feeling that you've been trying to
>psychoanalyze me with your replies so far. You're a nice guy and all, but
>I just can't fight the feeling that I've been hotly conversing with some
>intrusive quasi-motivational-speaker clone of Alex Trebek.

You've never met Richard Brodie, have you? ROFL! Seriously...if that were the case, what's so bad about it? You don't believe it's "sincere" right? Sincere, honest, real, meaningful, trustworthy, significant, useful, worthwhile, worthy of faith...

It all means kind of the same thing in the end, doesn't it?

>Although I
>don't really care for Philosophy, and at certain times it also bothers me,
>that original "joke" was simply that, and I think you're picking apart my
>comments just a little bit *too* much.

This from the person who all but called for Oprah to be hung from a yardarm becuase she...what...didn't seem sincere enough to you?

Live by the sword, die by the sword.

>And so I'd like to question you...exactly WHY have you been acting as
>Oprah's special Guardian Angel, and donning a purple cape to defend her?
>Is it because you feel a strong, unwavering devotion to her and must speak
>on her behalf to keep me from tarnishing her image, or are you merely
>taking an opposing position just for the hell of it, and to prove me wrong?
>(Which I can understand, as I often argue with myself over what is both
>true/false, wrong and right.)

Neither. I'm opposed to people dissing on stuff they haven't much experience with. Athiests dis on God, having never believed. Haute culture people dis on science, having never experiemented. Or worse, they dis on things they fled from as children...I hate the church becuase I had a crappy experience...I hate TV, or drugs, or objectivism. Whatever. I think that's an ineffective way to live life. Situations change: all churches, TV programs, and drugs are not the same.

The content of what you said was, frankly, irrelevant to me. You said "I don't watch TV" and "I don't like Oprah". How can you not like what you don't experience? That "meta-message": It's OK to exclude something without really investigating it, it's OK to "read a book by it's cover"...It puzzled me. It still puzzles me. How can you get so riled about something you've had so little contact with?

>And most importantly, if I breathlessly give up- utterly defeated, and say
>that I just love Oprah to pieces, will you bake me cookies?

Nope. If you think this is a conversation about Oprah then you've completely missed my point.


  Reed Konsler