I was jarred silly this morning while groggily reading my internet homepage- The Times of London, only to discover an article suggesting Oprah’s show is past its prime. The nerve. Who do the English think they are discussing a beloved American icon? I demand that the New York Times immediately starts speculating on the fall of Mr. Bean. Oh wait, he sucks.
But this is eerily timely. Just last night as I watched two back-to-back episodes of Oprah off the slingboxed DVR (a Nate Berkus dream house and a family on Long Island destroyed by a drunk driver), I really did think to myself: “Self, is Oprah one of the greatest human beings in our lifetime?”
Now, I know that just by saying those words I am exposing myself as some cliched and generic female that all Oprah-haters lump together as overly sentimental Philistines.
Well, I would certainly love your thoughts on the matter, since I can’t seem to shake my devotion to her. Just a few reasons why:
- She talks a lot about books. Who else, with even a fraction of the power she has, does that? She got the only interview with Cormac McCarthy in a decade for pete’s sake.
- Oprah gives a lot of her money away. She has built schools, given to her Angel Network, built people houses, revamped people’s lives and shared her favorite things with her audience.
- She never sells out. If Oprah has a certain opinion that a behavior or political stance is wrong, you won’t see her embracing a guest or endorsing a product that would communicate the opposite. She took on Texas cattlemen and James Frey.
- Moments on her show become part of our cultural lexicon, e.g. couch-jumping.
- She asks hard questions. When I watch Oprah interview a famous or infamous person, I don’t want to gouge both my eyes out and impale my eardrums like I do when Larry King throws his old-timey softballs around.
- She says some pretty insightful things. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Decades of dealing with the country’s top psychologists, doctors, and transformational life coachy guru-types has given Oprah a pretty amazing ability to size people up.
- There are entire subjects in the world that I now think back to an old episode of Oprah as a touchstone for my understanding of them. Adultery, for one thing. Because Denial is not just a river in Eqypt (ooh, I love that expression!).
- All she does is work. For us. She has a tv show, a radio show on satellite, a magazine, she blogs, and leads nightly internet workshops.
- And even so, even so, she seems human. We know she struggles with her weight, her abusive past and the way people question her relationship with Stedman.
Okay haters, bring it on.