I don’t have much of a problem with Oprah, other than unwarranted admiration that the public has for her. From what little I have seen of her shows, she is more a reflection of our culture than a shaper of it. Her guests include anyone in the news, celebrities, or people with interesting, inspiring, or tragic stories. She has spawned spin-off shows like Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, and Rachel Ray. I respect her for being open about her challenges with weight loss. I’m not sure why it should matter that she endorsed Barack Obama this past election cycle (other than showing what Hilary should have known: minority women would chose a minority man over a white woman). I don’t like that people would pick up any book just because Oprah told them to; I dislike even more that Oprah could rediscover classics we all should have read in high school anyway.
But we do have strange sages these days. That so many women find direction from Oprah is indicative of how deep and how desperate our search for wisdom, truth, and goodness (all of which come only from God) really is. Our culture is in trouble precisely insofar as news of Oprah’s retirement is met with legitimate mourning. Daytime TV is abysmal. It is junk food geared towards a very specific demographic.
But perhaps I am being too hard. I suspect Oprah is for a generation of women what Jon Stewart is for my own: the best source of wisdom, humor, and guidance they can find.
Oprah is not a bad person, but there is no reason she should be worth two billion dollars. Why are we up in arms over corporate CEO’s making this kind of money, and not offended at Oprah’s wealth? A double standard indeed.
Side note: Oprah’s name comes from a Biblical name, Orpah. I wish her guidance were as biblical as her name suggests. As it is, she is a real, live, American Idol. Watch, these last two years, for worship. It will not be unlike when Princess Di passed away: the sadness with which it is met will indicate just how much we are hurting for real meaning, wisdom, truth, and beauty. These, however, are not to be found in our cultural icons.
This Sunday is Christ the King Sunday. A more stark contrast to the Queen of daytime TV I could not imagine.