Thursday, January 3, 2008

O No You Didn't

Ah, Miss Oprah. How the Baroness used to love you. I adored your humor, your humility, your fine mind, your philanthropy. I used to watch your show whenever I possibly could, and I bought your “O” magazine regularly, cherishing every nurturing word. You seemed to really have your pulse on what us modern women needed. And, although I sometimes felt a little out of the loop because I could not share your African-American experience, I was always so appreciative that you made a real effort to be globally inclusive. You were there for Jane Q. Everywoman. You had risen up the ranks, but you still remembered what it was like. You got it.

Then one afternoon as I was watching your show, Duke #2 came into the room on his way to the kitchen. “Whatcha watchin’?” , he inquired. “Oh”, he said as he paused for half a second and looked at the screen, “Pope-rah”. Whatever did he mean, I inquired back.

He went on to say that this woman (one of the few who I really listened to and respected), had a following that bordered on the religious, and that every time she spoke/decreed, people were hanging on her every word, ready to do whatever she suggested, read whatever she deemed fit, and buy whatever she liked. And while I was a little ticked at his criticism, upon reflection he was not too far off the mark. Out of the mouths of babes…

At this point, I began to get that squidgey uneasy feeling inside. Come now, you know the one. The one you get when there’s something not quite right with what you’re seeing, but you can’t put your synapse on it. I began to scrutinize what had motivated me to latch on to this lady. This sage, who I invited into my home on a regular basis. And as I watched, I wondered. And I became more than just a little bit frightened of the influence that this media mogul wields. Events began to present themselves…

The first event that made me realize that Duke #2 might be wise beyond his years was the show “Oprah vs. James Frey”. I had read “A Million Little Pieces” thanks to you-know-who’s endorsement, and found it to be a fascinating, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful book. When the controversy came out regarding the author’s gross fabrication of certain details, I couldn’t have cared any less. He wrote the book as he saw fit (it’s called artistic license and people have been doing it for centuries), and while there may have been some confusion to its genre (memoir vs. fiction), the matter could have easily flown under the radar. But no. Enter woman scorned, stage right. The one who’s name is on the cover, right beside the author’s. I found her public flagellation of this poor guy extremely upsetting, and still am not certain as to what her real agenda was.

The second event was when I lured in by the exquisite Spring 2007 “O at Home” magazine cover with some fabulously-embroidered duvet. Now, please realize that the Baroness loves beautiful things just as much as the next person. I do not, however, feel compelled to buy each and every one so that I can tell my friends and colleagues that I have the same $28,000 Brunswig & Fils bed as featured in the O at Home magazine. Upon second glance, the whole issue made me feel extremely cranky, and dare I say it? Poor. I flipped to “The Divine Bedroom” article touted on the cover only to discover that the lovely embroidered Valombreuse linens could set me back $2,250. I then flipped again to the article profiling the Miami home of Susan Grant Lewin , publicist & art/furniture collector. This woman considers Frank Gehry “a buddy of mine”. Then there’s the article about the home of children’s clothing and furniture designer Bonnie Young, whose lovely children Celia and Bruno have artist-commissioned graffiti on their bedroom walls. I would like to know just who this magazine is being marketed to. And I would like to know now. Certainly not me. And certainly not Jane Q. Everywoman. How can two magazines, both with the same “O” on the cover be such polar opposites of one another?

The third event in the De-Oprah-tization of the Baroness came upon watching “The Making of the ‘Favorite Things’ Show”. If you are not aware of this once-a-year extravaganza, here’s the lowdown. Every year, Oprah and her staff choose retail items that they love and simply cannot do without. They create a “Favorite Things” show surrounding said items (which Oprah waxes rhapsodic about), and then she announces that EVERYONE IN THE AUDIENCE IS GOING HOME WITH _________ (fill in the blank). Much screaming, thunderous applause – and I believe the birth of a baby or two (based on the noise) - ensues. It’s the ultimate Oprah show to attend, and production prior to the show is done top-secret style, so that no one knows when the show will air. It’s quite the sight to see, with audience members going apoplectic, crying, and basically genuflecting for the gifts heaped upon them. Ugh. Anyways, during the “Making Of” show, Ms. W said that while she knows that she’s giving things away, it’s not about the material aspect of it all. It’s about hope and inspiration and blahdee blahdee blah. By the first blahdee, my brain had been short-circuited by my bullshit monitor going into overdrive. Who is she kidding? These audiences are whipped into a greedy, frothy, frenzy, wondering what hot-ticket goody they’re about to get next. Hope and inspiration, my ass. Yeah, I hope I’m inspired as to how to cram all these jewels into the back of my car.

The last thing that drove my around the proverbial bend was hearing that the great Ms. O would be riding the election wagon with the soon-to-be-great-if-I-have-anything-to-do-with-it Mr. O. She is finally using her mammoth influence to its highest potential – to persuade her followers to exercise their vote for Mr. Obama. And now, I fear, she’s treading on really dangerous ground. What happens if, say 2 years down the road, some sort of scandalous information comes out about our dear Barack? Will he, too, be called on the carpet so she can publicly roast him over the coals? Or will he actually be sacrificed live on afternoon tv? FYI, I like my Barack with a touch of grainy Dijon and some Pinot Gris, please. Poor fellow won’t know what hit him.

I’m seriously worried about all the Jane Q.’s out there who will devotedly jump on the Obama train, not because they really know much about the man, and not because they believe him to be the best person to run the United States of America, but simply because she said so. This woman’s influence and customer loyalty are terrifying. I’m waiting for Mastercard ads during her show -

Daycare for 2 small children: $ 50.57

1 day’s lost wages: $148.09

Outfit, hair, nails and parking: $362.20

Opportunity to see Oprah Winfrey stump for Barack Obama: Priceless (?)

Now I realize, that in the world of Oprah, The Baroness is but a trifle. However, I would like to suggest that those zealots out there take a good long look at what makes them such devotees. And as I type “devotees” I shudder, considering its relationship to religion, but what can I say? It’s the perfect word. What I’d like to see is this:

Going to the library to read current affairs magazines: $2.50 (for gas)

Logging on to the internet to research candidates: $1.00

Flipping on CNN to watch debates: $0.50

Making an informed, intelligent, personally-relevant

decision without resorting to endorsements from your

favorite celebrity: Priceless (!)

As if.


Wanita said...

BRAVO....BRAVO Baroness! I've read 2 - 3 'O' Magazines since they started being published and each time I was bored to tears. I tried again thinking, my God, all worthy women love this magazine, whats wrong with me? I wathched her show every day at 4:00 with Sam asleep on my chest in my rocking chair when Samantha was a baby and I was on Maternity leave (still thinking I was goign back to CanTest tee hee ). I truly enjoyed her show and I truly appreciated the many good works that she has done. You are right though........She has SO much influential power, that many women will likely cast their vote based on what Oprah's opinion is and that is WRONG.

catbregman said...

I guess you won't be voting for P-Oprah when she runs for President in the next election!

Chris A.K.A. Formerly Fun said...

Oh Baroness, If I didn't know that my mother had never been to Canada, I would say we might be separated at birth.

I completely agree with you on the subject of James Frey. That show was positively uncomfortable. I read a quote somewhere afterward, that he was so upset by all of it, he didn't think he'd be writing again, our loss.

And on the subject of Barack, I'm a bit conflicted because everyone has the right ot their opinion but I can say this: If I wielded the unchallenged influence that she does, I would not broadcast(especially at such an early point in the process) my opinion for the very fact that people would make a choice based on that alone. I think that with the power she wields, it was calculated and selfish. How about explaining to women where to find the resources to make a decision? What about putting $, air time, etc. on why it's so important that we all vote. How about a little neutrality?

On a less ranty-note, loved the most recent post and if you ever wander over here to La-La Land, look me up and I'll buy you lunch at Nordstrom's Cafe.

Ciao Bella

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