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May 25, 2011 11:03 PM   Subscribe

After 25 years, and a huge buildup, the final episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show has aired.
posted by Artw (109 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Let's go to work."
(hard cut to black)
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:08 PM on May 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


I heard they were going to sacrifice a goat. Did they actually go ahead with it?
posted by philip-random at 11:17 PM on May 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


The woman could sell twaddle like no other.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:27 PM on May 25, 2011


For those of you that didn't watch, I have taken it upon myself to watch it and thus summerize the events.

The picture faded in, onto a guilded set plated entirly in gold, chrome, and other shiny surfaces. The audience is destroying their throats, yelling for her, Oprah. Fireworks are triggered, and in one large explosion she enters the center stage, riding atop a new Ford Flex(tm) that is also covered in gold. The audience screams begin to converge around 220 hz and if you place a glass next to your television, it harmonizes with it and begins to wobble until the glass shatters. I lost a beer glass that day.

Oprah, riding atop the Ford, is tossing out knick knacks. They're keys to some more Ford Flexes that are parked outside, and while there are keys for everyone, the audience members are tearing themselves apart trying to pick one of them up. Attached to the keyring is a platinum Precious Moments figurine, and a barcode that can be scanned at any Wal-Mart for a 90% off any purchase.

Soon the floors of the studio run crimson red, and Oprah, in a fit of crowd control, brandishes a SPAS-12 from the trunk of the Ford Flex and fires indiscriminately into the air to get the attention of the audience. The surviving members of the audience sit down, eyes wide, pupils dilated, clothes splattered with blood. She begins her monologue.

"I am a beautiful animal" she begins "I am the destroyer of worlds" she says. Her words boom out, arms outstreached, like the new god that she is. She begins to list off her accomplishments: Founding a media empire, creating a best selling magazine, giving birth to Dr. Phil, leading the charge at the battle of Mars, piloting the EVE-01 unit against the 12 angels, dicking around on the surface of Pluto for last month's cover of O magazine, and launching a line of beauty products which can be mixed to create an improvized explosive media.

The audience eats it up, they're on the edge of their seats waiting for the next doo-dad that she's about to lob their way. The less unfortunate ones are bandaging themselves up with pages of Jame's Frey's latest novel "Duh, Yiffing: my personal decent into the furry slashfic scene" which she has placed under each chair as a part of the promotional package.

Oprah teases with the next product reveal, but pulls away at the last second to reveal her next guest. Stephen Fry! But, instead of walking out, he's wheeled in, inside a cage. He looks rather miffed. The cage comes to a rest next to Oprah's throne: a 10 food tall art-deco homage covered in brass, gold, more gold, and additional gold. It is worth more than the combined incomes of all employees of the In-n-Out burger franchise. Oprah is keen to make this fact known, and emphasizes it on several occasions during the interview.

Stephen Fry, having had quite enough, begins kicking the side of the cage. Oprah gestures and looks to the audience as if to say "See? Look at this zany guy!" Some of them clap, others have passed out from blood loss/case of the Vapours.

Stephen goes to his shoe and produces a shank, made from some of the steuben candlesticks that Oprah was giving out, and in a proper British accent and with the best manners he could muster under the circumstances, properly tells Oprah off. Another swift kick to the door of the cage and he's out. The guards rush him, but he ducks underneath. Like a rocketized animal, Stephen Fry breaks for the door, before turning and hurling the shank at Oprah's forehead. It contacts with a satisfying "Clunk" as he makes his exit. Oprah pulls the glass from her head, nonchalantly, and signals to break for commercial.

At this point I had to leave and I missed the other half of the episode, but I hear it was quite the spectacle.
posted by hellojed at 11:36 PM on May 25, 2011 [144 favorites]


Oprah's next gig: as many guest spots as she can do. New Orleans segment for Treme. Good Mom (of Mom's Robots) in an episode of Futurama where there is an alternate universe or something. Simpsons again for some reason. Next season of Celebrity Apprentice. 30 Rock again for some reason. Some UK shows (pass on Doctor Who, "too confusing"). Some AU shows. That one Japanese game show.
posted by gac at 11:40 PM on May 25, 2011


"After 25 years, and a huge buildup, the final episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show has aired. "

Thank. Fucking. God.
posted by tbonicus at 11:45 PM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Coincidentally, the last IP address was handed out today.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:48 PM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


i was really hoping she'd give away mansions filled with cars filled with a million dollars to each audience member

what a let down
posted by addelburgh at 12:05 AM on May 26, 2011


25 years and I don't even have a car to show for it.
posted by arcticseal at 12:09 AM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't know, I thought she made a couple of good points.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:37 AM on May 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm glad to see her move to cable. It's long overdue. Of course, my opinion may be tainted by the fact that I do not have cable.

What's really bad is that, living in the Chicago area, it's been non-stop Oprah for over a week. She's the only person I know who's said goodbye about 750 million times - all of them televised.

I only mourn the loss of real talent from the airwaves. Oprah? Good riddance! But I wish her the best. Really I do.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 12:47 AM on May 26, 2011


So I guess we'll never hear from her again huh? Isn't that what happens?
posted by awfurby at 12:55 AM on May 26, 2011


Well, now Oprah is free to run for President.
posted by bwg at 1:15 AM on May 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


She's like the queen mum of American consumerism, birthing a conception of American womanhood centered around finding happiness through buying stuff, cultivating her enraptured audience into the ad-man's wet dream.
posted by delmoi at 1:16 AM on May 26, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'm glad to see her move to cable. It's long overdue. Of course, my opinion may be tainted by the fact that I do not have cable.

Moving to her own network.
posted by delmoi at 1:17 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Never saw it. Did I miss something?
posted by pracowity at 1:31 AM on May 26, 2011


Even though I didn't watch her show much, I kind of love Oprah and I'll miss knowing she's there. Yes, she was about some nonsense at times, but she's an intelligent, hard-working, appealing person, who accomplished remarkable things in spite of a whole assortment of disadvantages. A lot of her viewers are probably better for having encountered her; she shared good things. For instance, People Who Read made a big deal about it when she chose The Road for her book club, but it's far from being the only worthwhile book on the list.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 1:35 AM on May 26, 2011 [17 favorites]


Oprah who? Is she related to the Middletons?
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 1:59 AM on May 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm not remotely a fan, never having watched an entire episode of her show, but as far as I can tell she's hardly an example of the Worst of America, especially at this point. She encouraged millions of people who probably had gone years without reading anything longer than a cereal box to actually pick up a goddamn book and she subtly espoused a lot of the liberal values that most people who participate in this site would agree with.

If she disappeared tomorrow, you'll find the personalities that fill the vacuum much more detestable than Oprah.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:02 AM on May 26, 2011 [47 favorites]


Well, now Oprah is free to run for President.
I'm not sure if this is sarcasm but the American left's distaste for Oprah is hilarious. Aneurin ain't coming back folks, you dance with the one that brung you.
posted by fullerine at 2:06 AM on May 26, 2011


I too am pretending that I do not know this "Oprah"!
posted by gc at 2:06 AM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm actually a bit worried that now there will no longer be a consistant voice on American daytime television proclaiming that LGBT folks deserve equality, that racism is still pervasive and should be addressed, that sexual abuse is not the fault of the abused (female or male), that girls should be educated to stand alongside men in the workforce, that... *sigh*

Do any of y'all remember what it was like 25 years ago? Do any of y'all realize how easily we are regressing?
posted by likeso at 2:25 AM on May 26, 2011 [46 favorites]


Coincidentally, the last IP address was handed out today.

Everyone's getting class As!
*cue audience going wild*
posted by atrazine at 2:30 AM on May 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


Everyone's getting class As!
*cue audience going wild*

The potential for confusion and disappointment would be enormous if this was said on Graham Norton's final show.
posted by fullerine at 2:50 AM on May 26, 2011


Now you all know how we felt when Ed Sullivan retired, or something like that.
posted by tomswift at 3:20 AM on May 26, 2011


A lot of her viewers are probably better for having encountered her;

I don't think so.
posted by Pendragon at 3:24 AM on May 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


I quite liked Oprah in the beginning. And respected a lot of her choices -- the Book Club, the willingness to talk about some difficult things.

But lately, the consumerism -- the "best things," the subtle pushing of her magazine -- has been putting me off. People are encouraged to "live their best life," but too often the means she describes to live one's best life involve having money to purchase the best thing, enroll in the best class, or go on the best vacation. I've been trying to find the FPP in here where someone took Oprah's celebration of "Eat Pray Love" to task -- it was a spiritual pilgrimage Oprah was endorsing everyone take, yeah, but most of her audience simply cannot afford to pick up and leave their lives for a year to contemplate their navels in Bali. It would transform their lives if they did, yes, but...what does knowing that give them if they can't do it?

Oprah came from nothing, financially, and now is profoundly wealthy. She had a vision in mind, and she was fantastic about communicating that vision to others, and talking about her own struggles in getting there. But she's been wealthy for a little too long now, and has forgotten that most of her audience is still where she used to be, and still needs someone to speak to them. We can't what she's pitching, but we still want to live our best lives too. Oprah stopped telling us how we could also do that, and that finally just got too disappointing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:48 AM on May 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


Opera (the browser) received several letters addressed to Oprah and responded to them.
posted by gman at 3:51 AM on May 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


I watched - it was like a Powerpoint presentation for a corporate gig. She said a few things, made a few points, but mostly, it was an hour-long puff of air. What else could it be, really - after that over-the-top spectacle that her previous two shows had been.
posted by pinky at 4:05 AM on May 26, 2011


likeso: I'm actually a bit worried that now there will no longer be a consistant voice on American daytime television proclaiming that LGBT folks deserve equality, that racism is still pervasive and should be addressed, that sexual abuse is not the fault of the abused (female or male), that girls should be educated to stand alongside men in the workforce, that... *sigh*

QFT.

Plus, you know, while I get that the last couple of years of Oprah have been not so great, it's easy to forget while dismissing her that she broke a lot of barriers. I think she was the first black female news anchor in Nashville back in the day, which ain't nothing. She was the first nationally syndicated black woman talkshow host if we are not counting a show that was literally called For You Black Women, and the first female black billionaire. Wikipedia says she's the only African American on the Forbes 400.

And she did bring Obama to the tune of a million votes, which given the alternatives, is something I am very grateful for. She has a lot of power and if you're going to swing it, I am glad she swung in that direction and a couple of others, particularly GBLT issues.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:08 AM on May 26, 2011 [15 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos, I hear you. But please remember that two of the shows in the final season (with Tyler Perry as role model) were devoted to exploding myths about the sexual abuse of males. Still rather unexplored territory on mainstream TV and essential in the fight for awareness and against othering.
posted by likeso at 4:12 AM on May 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


DarlingBri, absolutely. She was a major force in, for example, simply modeling a successful, intelligent black woman as a virtual friend for white suburb dwellers. She introduced Vanilla America to many completely hidden and forbidden topics, modeling tolerance over ignorance and discrimination.
posted by likeso at 4:18 AM on May 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


May her vajayjay be forever unpainin'.
posted by BeerFilter at 4:32 AM on May 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Good riddance. Her embrace of pseudoscience and bullshit and selling it to the ignorant is unforgivable. I will not be paying extra to get her cable channel. Remember her promoting of that cretinous book "The Secret", and even worse, providing a platform for anti-vaccination loonies and people claiming to cure cancer with good thoughts or snake oil? She has a lot to answer for, including some deaths of children who were not vaccinated and cancer patients who went to quacks rather than real doctors.
posted by mermayd at 4:35 AM on May 26, 2011 [10 favorites]


birthing a conception of American womanhood centered around finding happiness through buying stuff

I am pretty sure American women were finding happiness through buying stuff before Oprah.
posted by DU at 4:41 AM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


She has a lot to answer for, including some deaths of children who were not vaccinated and cancer patients who went to quacks rather than real doctors.

Oprah: CHILD KILLER!!!

Seriously besides the one controversial Susan Somers episode - in which Oprah gave Susan an outlet to voice her wacko views - what is it exactly about Oprah that is inspiring this "good riddance" talk from so many haters? The woman has done a ton more good than she has bad. I suspect a large part of the "Oprah is just ANNOYING" hate stems form the fact that it's a show that appeals to middle aged women so it automatically sucks.
posted by windbox at 4:55 AM on May 26, 2011 [18 favorites]


Yeah, let's reject the good because it's imperfect. May she rot for not being divine.

What she also sold to the ignorant is openmindedness. She wasn't a scientist, and didn't have enough of them on permanent staff, in my opinion. But she was a major influence in breaking taboos. DO NOT dismiss this. For (another) example, her "vajayjay" word ultimately resulted in the words vagina and penis being spoken and subjects regarding same being openly and frankly discussed on national daytime television. In the absence of any meaningful sex education in the United States, her show was one of the only sources of sensible information - and comfort - for many young people. Hell, even many old people.

Yes, she was more into mainstream consumerism than I believe is beneficial. Yes, she bought into mainstream celebrity adulation more than I believe is healthy. Yes, she opened her mind and gave air time to things that were highly dubious and unscientific. Yes, she didn't pay enough attention to important topics such as conservation and the ecology. But for these exact same reasons, folks in the mainstream could relate more easily to her (for them) way out topics regarding racism, sexism, abuse, intolerance... It's monkey see, monkey do, people.
posted by likeso at 4:56 AM on May 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm not really familiar with her show or most of what she does, but promoting that hack James Frey is pretty near unforgivable in my book.
posted by indubitable at 4:56 AM on May 26, 2011


She also rejected him when his deception was revealed.
posted by likeso at 4:58 AM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


But please remember that two of the shows in the final season (with Tyler Perry as role model) were devoted to exploding myths about the sexual abuse of males. Still rather unexplored territory on mainstream TV and essential in the fight for awareness and against othering.

Oh, she absolutely deserves applause for that. I just wish there had been much, much more of that and less "Dr. Phil/Dr. Oz/Favorite Things" kinds of stuff.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:58 AM on May 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


what is it exactly about Oprah that is inspiring this "good riddance" talk from so many haters?

Maybe you should read the link I posted earlier ?
posted by Pendragon at 4:58 AM on May 26, 2011


What she also sold to the ignorant is openmindedness.

No, it wasn't. Don't be so open minded that your brain falls out. She peddled bullshit, bad science, and fake medicine. She gave a voice to quack celebrity diets, past life regression, alternative therapies like acupuncture and homeopathy, anti-vaccination, detoxification, vitamin megadosing, and pretty much every variety of quackery that either actively hurt people, or at the very least distracted people from obtaining real treatment for real conditions. Fuck Oprah.
posted by Aversion Therapy at 5:05 AM on May 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


She also rejected him when his deception was revealed.

The fact that his deception is all that she found distasteful about James Frey pretty much reinforces my point. And I understand (from watching the news, goddammit, because I can't even get away from this shit by watching The News Hour) that she had him on the other day to apologize for being so harsh on him (!)
posted by indubitable at 5:05 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Uma?
posted by ShutterBun at 5:05 AM on May 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


as a black woman, am thankful there was and is an Oprah in my lifetime. as a black woman born in the 60s, i couldnt even imagine let alone witness her existence (or needless to say Obama's).

so thank you Oprah for being the possibility a lot of us grew up believing it was denied to us.
posted by liza at 5:10 AM on May 26, 2011 [14 favorites]


what is it exactly about Oprah that is inspiring this "good riddance" talk from so many haters?

Dr. Oz.
Suzanne Somers
Christiane Northrup

And most deviously, John of God. Remember that scene in Man on the Moon where Andy Kaufman goes to the spiritual healer who removes peoples' "tumors" (i.e., chicken livers he palmed earlier)?

This is a very short list. Fuck Oprah.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 5:13 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, fuck ignorance. I repeat, she was a major force for change in matters of racism, sexism, sexual awareness, education. No, she was not a scientist, and I get the instinctive hate that is being expressed here. But what the folks expressing that hate don't get is how important her example was for LGBT, racial and gender equality. Let her entire repertoire be judged, please.
posted by likeso at 5:18 AM on May 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm not much of a fan (she mostly bugs the shit out of me, to be honest), but as odd as it sounds to my own ears, Oprah has taught me a few fundamental things that I just didn't learn anywhere else. Notably:

Forgiveness comes when you give up the hope that you can change the past.

Chew on it; it's good. I can't tell you how much that realization changed me. Sometimes things need to be worded just-so to make an impact.

I find her tendency to be an annoying starfucker off-putting, and yeah she has a crazy hockey-goal-calling-guy voice when she wants people to go nuts, and for some reason she's gaga about Tom Cruise, but every now and then she'd drop a gem, and I'm telling you, I'm pretty fucking grateful for a half-dozen things she's made me think about over the years.
posted by heyho at 5:26 AM on May 26, 2011 [10 favorites]


A solemn, fitting tribute
posted by ColdChef at 5:26 AM on May 26, 2011


She peddled bullshit, bad science, and fake medicine. She gave a voice to quack celebrity diets, past life regression, alternative therapies like acupuncture and homeopathy, anti-vaccination, detoxification, vitamin megadosing, and pretty much every variety of quackery that either actively hurt people, or at the very least distracted people from obtaining real treatment for real conditions. Fuck Oprah.

If some person on TV told you that eating dog shit would give you perfect eyesight, you'd dismiss it out of hand, right? And if it seemed like an even remotely credible idea, you'd do some research and confirm that eating dog shit is a bad idea, yeah?

So if someone told you to eat dog shit, whose fault would it be if you did it?
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:28 AM on May 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


she was a major force for change in matters of racism, sexism, sexual awareness, education

A few years ago I saw a frat boy being interviewed about something. He talked about not having felt loved by his father and the emotional vulnerabilities it had left him with.

A generic frat boy, this was. Backwards cap, the whole deal. Talking on TV about his feelings.

And I realized that, without his even knowing it, he was doing this mostly due to the cultural influence - for better or worse - of Oprah Gail Winfrey.
posted by Trurl at 5:46 AM on May 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


No, fuck ignorance. I repeat, she was a major force for change in matters of racism, sexism, sexual awareness, education. No, she was not a scientist, and I get the instinctive hate that is being expressed here. But what the folks expressing that hate don't get is how important her example was for LGBT, racial and gender equality. Let her entire repertoire be judged, please.

I'm not expressing any hate. I just think overall she has done more harm than good. She is not a scientist so she should educate herself before she gives a platform to all kinds of bullshit.
posted by Pendragon at 5:47 AM on May 26, 2011


So if someone told you to eat dog shit, whose fault would it be if you did it?

If Oprah had simply preached "please don't be racist, homophobic, or ignorant, and please listen to your teachers & scientists" I don't think we'd be complaining much about the results either way.

Predatory figures are not immune to criticism simply because there is a huge market for their wares.
posted by ShutterBun at 5:51 AM on May 26, 2011


Seriously besides the one controversial Susan Somers episode - in which Oprah gave Susan an outlet to voice her wacko views - what is it exactly about Oprah that is inspiring this "good riddance" talk from so many haters?

Jenny McCarthy's anti-vaccine jackassery
Dr. Phil
'Favorite Things'
The Secret
Robert James Waller
Yanni
Getting an interview with the reclusive Cormac McCarthy and using the opportunity to talk mostly about herself
Tyler Perry

I could go on...
posted by mattholomew at 5:53 AM on May 26, 2011


Okay, Pendragon, I understand your exasperation, then. Others were being more vehement. But this is the same thing that happened after the first wave of feminism. Rights that had to be bitterly fought for were accepted as inalienable by the next generation. And then the battles have to be re-fought by the generation after that. Or after that.

ShutterBun, "predatory"? Really?

Mattholomew, Tyler Perry is also exposing sexual abuse of men. Hint: this is a Good Thing.
posted by likeso at 5:56 AM on May 26, 2011


Oprah's Favorite Thing Or Symptom of Clinical Depression?
posted by mattholomew at 5:58 AM on May 26, 2011


Let her entire repertoire be judged, please.

Yes, let it. Oprah Winfrey has been a clear voice championing for women, minorities and the LGBT community. Oprah and I share many values. I know for a fact that we voted for the same man in the 2008 presidential election.

I enjoy Beck's music, despite his being a Scientologist. I think Clint Eastwood is an amazing actor and even better director; I love his movies despite his right-wing political views. What relegates Oprah from the tier of "annoyingly self-absorbed, but mostly doing good" to "the devil's mouthpiece" is her touting of "alternative medicine" and similar nonsense. She actively encourages people to dismiss the words of their doctors, to eschew science and rational thought. This is dangerous business.

I'm just not sure how evil she is. Does Oprah deceive herself along with her viewers? Or does she willingly spout whatever nonsense will produce a jump in ratings. To her credit, I believe she is self-deluded on these matters. But that doesn't lessen the harm she's causing.

So if someone told you to eat dog shit drink the Kool Aid, whose fault would it be if you did it?

A powerful personality, with a cadre of followers entrenched in the safety of trust, can often cause irreperable harm, even when doing what he or she feels is the right thing to do.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 5:59 AM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Tyler Perry is also exposing sexual abuse of men. Hint: this is a Good Thing.

Surely there are thousands of other people who aren't talentless hacks with a similar level of visibility who could do the same thing?
posted by mattholomew at 6:00 AM on May 26, 2011


Surely there are thousands of other people who aren't talentless hacks with a similar level of visibility who could do the same thing?

I can tell you didn't see that episode, which is fine, but don't disparage the moment. It was one of the most moving things I've ever seen in my life. 200 men in her audience, standing, holding photos of themselves at the age at which they were sexually molested as kids doesn't make one sit there thinking, "But let's get back to my own issues with how un-funny I think someone's comedy is."
posted by heyho at 6:10 AM on May 26, 2011 [23 favorites]


But this is the same thing that happened after the first wave of feminism. Rights that had to be bitterly fought for were accepted as inalienable by the next generation. And then the battles have to be re-fought by the generation after that. Or after that.

So you think most people who criticize her for supporting all kinds of BS, are doing so because she is a woman ? Not because of the BS she supports ?
posted by Pendragon at 6:12 AM on May 26, 2011


"I suspect a large part of the "Oprah is just ANNOYING" hate stems form the fact that it's a show that appeals to middle aged women so it automatically sucks."

I think you are on to something here.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 6:19 AM on May 26, 2011


"I suspect a large part of the "Oprah is just ANNOYING" hate stems form the fact that it's a show that appeals to middle aged women so it automatically sucks."

Not just "middle-aged women" -- upper-middle-class middle-aged women, who are lucky enough to have both sufficient leisure time and sufficient funds to actually pursue the Best Life Oprah ended up advocating.

Again, I'm not dismissing her entire career out of hand. Just pointing to a growing trend that ultimately put me off, in the end. Yes, the old kind of informative groundbreaking shows were around, but that makes it all the more disenheartening that they fought for space with a growing percentage of dreck.

I am KILLING myself for not being able to find that FPP which linked to a blog that took EAT PRAY LOVE to task for not realizing the narrowness of its audience. It summed up exactly what I'm trying to say.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:27 AM on May 26, 2011


No no, Pendragon! But I think, living in an enlightened country re LGBT rights as we do, it is easy to assume that certain insights into equality are self-evident. They are not. Even here in the Netherlands we are also seeing the erosion of civil liberties in the wake of Wilders, albeit regarding racial and religious equality, not (yet) LGBT or gender equality. And the US is nowhere near the level of acceptance, let alone legal equality that is more prevalent in (northern) Europe. So I applaud, honor and support people at the forefront of these fights, and never ever take aquired rights for granted.

Terminal Verbosity, you bring up good and interesting points, and I will get back to you! Juggling a bunch of work right now, and can't do you justice.
posted by likeso at 6:28 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


In any event, can we have Donahue back now?
posted by Trurl at 6:30 AM on May 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I always liked Dario Argento's movie bio "Oprah". Too bad the Goblins didn't kick in the mean soundtrack. Oh shit..wait....
posted by snap_dragon at 6:34 AM on May 26, 2011


The Sarah Palin-level of vitriol here is sort of astounding. I know it's fun to fantasize about how everyone is dumber than thou but give her viewers a modicum of credit.

Not just "middle-aged women" -- upper-middle-class middle-aged women

Uh, where exactly are you getting this stat? Or is it just a projection?
posted by windbox at 6:39 AM on May 26, 2011


Oprah was born as poor as anyone gets in this country, raped at and molested starting at age 9 by a 19-year-old cousin, then later by her uncle and a family friend. At 13, she ran away from home, and at 14 gave birth to a child prematurely, who died. How far do you think you would go, if this was your story?
posted by Missiles K. Monster at 6:43 AM on May 26, 2011 [10 favorites]


Oprah was a hero to most.
posted by whuppy at 6:59 AM on May 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I like Oprah. From her I learned to accept that human are not perfect, they are are a mixture of good and not so good, even to the point of evil. I see a lot more good than evil in Oprah.

I watched her show on vaccination. Oprah did not push the anti-vaccination point of view on her followers, she just gave the proposers of that idea an outlet, steering the talk in her non-judgemental way and letting them hang themselves with their own words. She had child predators and rapists on her show: should we say that she pushed sexual abuse?
posted by francesca too at 7:14 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


For (another) example, her "vajayjay" word ultimately resulted in the words vagina and penis being spoken and subjects regarding same being openly and frankly discussed on national daytime television.

I agree with everything likeso has said so far, but a small note. The word "vajayjay" was coined by Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes (NYTimes link) to dodge ABC's standards and practices people and used later by Oprah. (To positive and powerful pop cultural effect, of course.)
posted by purpleclover at 7:23 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


i didn't watch oprah so much, but i like her generally. the one thing i really disliked about her actually came back to her toward the end: schwarzeneggar. he ran for california governor without having to articulate his political views or philosophies, or answer questions about his intentions. as a favor to her friend shriver, oprah had them on for a show that was all celebrity and soft questions, in which he could say anything he wanted without challenge (including, it turns out, defending himself against charges that he was all over other women). i pretty much just saw two strong women, ostensibly journalists, trade away their credibility in favor of electing a celebrity without any discussion or debate about real-world issues. they asked voters--shriver explicitly--to trust their view of the man without knowing what he actually stood for.

i don't follow his scandal these days--i can't imagine one with more boring participants, so i don't get all the excitement about it--but the recent oprah-shriver reunion, in which we're apparently supposed to sympathize with shriver, should have been a moment of embarrassment and apology for both of them.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 7:25 AM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oprah has done so many shows it would be astounding if she never annoyed you on your own little pet issues at some point.
posted by smackfu at 7:26 AM on May 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Wait..she insulted my pet now? Why I oughta...
posted by snap_dragon at 7:32 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not just "middle-aged women" -- upper-middle-class middle-aged women

That would exclude a lot black women from her audience. Or have they become upper middle class all the sudden?
posted by francesca too at 7:33 AM on May 26, 2011


How far do you think you would go, if this was your story?

And however far that is, do you think that it would be as far as becoming the world's only black female billionaire?
posted by Trurl at 7:42 AM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I watched her show on vaccination. Oprah did not push the anti-vaccination point of view on her followers, she just gave the proposers of that idea an outlet, steering the talk in her non-judgemental way and letting them hang themselves with their own words.

Well, they may have hung themselves with their words in YOUR eyes but maybe that's because you have a modicum of scientific literacy; to Oprah and her audience they may have seemed authoritative and informative. (I'd like to see footage of this show if someone has a link)

There's an awful lot of scientifically illiterate people out there and when you take a "fair and balanced" approach to things like anti-vaxxers, climate change denialism, young earth creationism and guys who talk to your dead relatives, you're doing an awful disservice to the public. Giving a neutral platform to Jenny McCarthy is about as bad as giving a neutral platform to NAMBLA. Probably worse in terms of sheer harm inflicted; at least molestation can't be spread by coughing.

(I also recognize that Oprah has done great things to promote reading etc. and is a media pioneer and all that good stuff)
posted by fleetmouse at 7:49 AM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's an awful lot of scientifically illiterate people out there and when you take a "fair and balanced" approach to things like anti-vaxxers, climate change denialism, young earth creationism and guys who talk to your dead relatives, you're doing an awful disservice to the public.

Oprah did a number of shows on global warming, featuring Al Gore, Michael Oppenheimer, and others. Where are you getting "climate change denialism" from?
posted by nickmark at 8:03 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was molested by a family member as a child. Because Oprah told me it was not my fault and it is important to tell someone, I did. I don't like all her anti-science shit either but she helped 10 year old me and for that I will always be grateful to her.
posted by shmurley at 8:04 AM on May 26, 2011 [28 favorites]


nickmark, AFAIK she never endorsed young earth creationism either. I'm just giving examples of subjects where an ostensibly "fair and balanced" approach is deceptive and irresponsible.
posted by fleetmouse at 8:23 AM on May 26, 2011


i think if you look past the faddish aspects of some of what she explored, oprah did model a kind of introspection (and also charity) that was and still is unusual for her type of show; and she modeled an excitement about that kind of discovery and exploration. i think in the last few years especially that she's as materialistic and starstruck as any of us, but she's always striving to be and do something better. she's weathered it no more consistently than i have, at least.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 8:43 AM on May 26, 2011


i find Oprah supremely annoying. but self-made billionaire women of colour who try (for better or worse) to wield their immeasurable influence for the genuine betterment of others?

those don't come around every day. respect due.
posted by wayward vagabond at 9:13 AM on May 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


The Secret

I have a friend (a middle-aged woman, it so happens) who had a major psychotic breakdown which was more or less spurred by her sudden and clearly irrational devotion to the absurd precepts of The Secret. Did she find out about it from Oprah? I don't know. I never asked. But the first time I personally heard of The Secret, it was people talking with genuine credulity about this amazing thing that Oprah had gotten behind.

Now, I'm not saying that The Secret caused my friends psychosis. No, she was going that way anyway. But man, did it pour gasoline on her match. Likewise, I don't blame Oprah for the rise to prominence that The Secret and its precepts took way back when in the mid-Zeroes. But she sure didn't get in its way.

In the end, what Oprah had (still has) is power, which also means that, in her way, she's corrupt ... because that's what power does to people, I believe. Which doesn't negate all the good they might do with their influence, but it does neutralize it somewhat. So yeah, Oprah Winfrey, American Success Story, American Saint, American Freak, American Fool, American Villain, American STAR. Hopefully, someday someone will write the opera. That's the only way we'll ever get any true perspective on the situation.
posted by philip-random at 9:20 AM on May 26, 2011


philip-random: " So yeah, Oprah Winfrey, American Success Story, American Saint, American Freak, American Fool, American Villain, American STAR."

American Human Being.
posted by charred husk at 9:35 AM on May 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thank you, Oprah, for letting people like my sister know it is okay to substitute unexamined, faux-conscious consumerism and celebrity idolatry for sustainability, self-reflection, and critical thought.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:41 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think all the Oprah haters are just falling into a big group-think hole and didn't even watch the shows. She made more than 4 thousand shows over the years, OF COURSE she was going to make some mistakes and things that others think are wrong wrong wrong. As a teacher, I know myself that in the course of a whole year, I'll have some great classes, and some days when students absolutely hate the class, and I'm Ok with that because I know I'm still learning.

In a way, Oprah reminds me of my mom. My mom's spent most of her life trying to feel well. Her journey to wellness has taken her through lots of places, some better than others. Medical doctors, acupuncturists, homeopaths, psychologists, nutritionists, courses and workshops, etc etc etc. Some of the things she's done have shed some good results, others were a waste of money and time. Still, I think my mom's a better person now because of it. It has taken her some experiences to gain a little better judgment about these things. I'm sure that if her journey had been televised, some of the things she's done would seem stupid and "unforgivable" to us now, but gee, who are we to judge, WE ALL LEARN BY OUR MISTAKES.

Yes, Oprah, being seen and heard by millions of viewers has more responsibility and accountability, but we know and she knows that she's not perfect and her producers are not perfect. And in their journey of 25 years, I think she's done way more good things than bad things through her platform on TV.

I didn't even watch the Suzanne Sommers show, and when Jenni Mcarthy was on, I got curious and that led me to do some research myself on vaccination, so now I know what I'd do when I have kids. Yes, a lot of people don't have that kind of critical thinking skills, but then again, those same people were listening when the Oprah show talked about racism, gay issues, being a super mom but also being your own person, rape, getting a bra that fits, leaving your bag or cellphone next to the baby carseat so that you never forget your baby there, the evils of drunk driving, the whole season devoted to not calling or texting while driving, the strength and motivation of hundreds of guests who've had terrible things happen to them and came back, reading books like The Gift of Fear and knowing to trust your instincts on danger, reading other great authors and getting non-readers to give them a chance, constantly repeating Maya Angelou's "when you know better, you do better", thoughts on forgiveness like "hating another person is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die" or "forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different". I could go on for a few more lines, but that's not my point. My point is that EVERY profession in the world has good days and bad days, things that work and things that failed, patients that get better and patients that die. In the end, living and working is all about trying to do your best every single day, but learning from your mistakes when your best wasn't really good enough.

I really loved when in yesterday's show, she said that the common thing in all of her more than 30 thousands guests, was that they all just want to feel validated. I'll just take that with me and try to keep it in mind with every new person I meet.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 9:42 AM on May 26, 2011 [13 favorites]


...30 Rock again for some reason...

In light of the recent story arc about TGS's potential cancellation and Liz's complete lack of job prospects, there should totally be an episode where Liz Lemon interviews at OWN and hilarity ensues.
posted by Sara C. at 10:43 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jesus. Have you all forgotten that it's TELEVISION? To ENTERTAIN us? Some of you sound like you're writing your college thesis on Oprah and her aura of power over the universe.

Lighten up. It was good TV for 25 years for a bunch of bored housewives who might have actually learned how to pick up a book and read for a change.

Not a bad thing.
posted by Kokopuff at 11:27 AM on May 26, 2011


I think it's worth noting again in bigger letters that over twenty five years she interviewed THIRTY THOUSAND PEOPLE. If she gave a platform to thirty folks who had a message that was deeply objectionable, I'm OK with that. Am I OK with the messages? No. But I'm OK with the batting average.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:27 AM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


.
posted by yarly at 12:05 PM on May 26, 2011


That would exclude a lot black women from her audience. Or have they become upper middle class all the sudden?

There are upper middle class black women. With disposable income.
posted by sweetkid at 12:09 PM on May 26, 2011


Jesus. Have you all forgotten that it's TELEVISION? To ENTERTAIN us? Some of you sound like you're writing your college thesis on Oprah and her aura of power over the universe.

I would say that you have forgotten that television is just a medium of communication. It can serve to inform and enlighten us; it doesn't merely function as a glass teat.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:48 PM on May 26, 2011


Jesus. Have you all forgotten that it's TELEVISION? To ENTERTAIN us?

"This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and even it can inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it's nothing but wires and lights in a box. ....Stonewall Jackson, who knew something about the use of weapons, is reported to have said, 'When war comes, you must draw the sword and throw away the scabbard.' The trouble with television is that it is rusting in the scabbard during a battle for survival."

-- Edward R. Murrow, 1958
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:56 PM on May 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thank you, Oprah, for letting people like my sister know it is okay to substitute unexamined, faux-conscious consumerism and celebrity idolatry for sustainability, self-reflection, and critical thought.

Your sister is hollow inside and it's Oprah's fault? Easier than blaming your parents, I guess.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:17 PM on May 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


The way I feel about Oprah is the way I feel about Stephen King. Upon finding out King was the #1 bestselling author in the U.S., I thought, "Well, I guess that's okay. We could do a lot worse."
posted by The ____ of Justice at 1:48 PM on May 26, 2011


"Opera (the browser) received several letters addressed to Oprah and responded to them."
posted by gman at 9:51 PM on May 26

Man, it's like everyone is suddenly Homer Simpson.

Homer: Heh heh heh heh, you'll edit that underwear thing out- won't you Opera?
Oprah: [tiny chuckle] It's Oprah- and I think we'll leave it in.
Homer: Please Okrah?
Oprah: No.
Homer: Oww
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:06 PM on May 26, 2011


I'm here to state unequivocally that I have no passionate feelings regarding Oprah. Thank You, that feels better.
posted by nimmpau at 3:48 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hi. I would like to take this opportunity to state that I never watched an episode of Oprah, all the while living in the US during her long career.
posted by telstar at 3:48 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Damn you, telstar, for eclipsing my indifference with your lack of connectedness.
posted by nimmpau at 3:51 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hi. I would like to take this opportunity to state that I never watched an episode of Oprah, all the while living in the US during her long career.

Thanks. I'll use this in my argument that no matter how big a phenomenon in pop culture is, not everyone will be exposed to it in the same way, or at all, and that's why not everyone will know that Anakin is Luke's father.
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:25 PM on May 26, 2011


I'm quite confused by the fact that her OWN network seems to be morphing into the new Reality TV Channel. At last count, the following "celebrities" did or will have their own reality show on her network:

The Judds, Sarah Ferguson, Chaz Bono (documentary, but still), Shania Twain, Ryan and Tatum O'Neal, even herself (Behind the scenes at the Oprah Show).

Does. Not. Compute.
posted by HeyAllie at 4:46 PM on May 26, 2011


She peddled bullshit, bad science, and fake medicine.

And she beat the drum on day-care sex abuse with her coverage of the McMartin Preschool ritual sex abuse case, helping to fuel the hysteria over that case, which led to slew of copycat prosecutions and convictions all over the country, all of which were later thrown out.
Hundreds of Manhattan Beach children, now young adults, believe that they were abused during bizarre rituals. They are probably suffering various degrees of disability. We have been unable to find any follow-up studies to measure the degree of damage that they have suffered
With those children who grew up with false memories of being sexually abused, who then perpetrated this Munchausen's sex abuse by proxy ? Among others, Saint Oprah has some permanent stains on her reputation for enabling it. And don't forget she also promoted the concept of Ritual Satanic Abuse, another case of mass hysteria. Her place in heaven is by no means a lock.
posted by y2karl at 4:54 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is anyone else a little disturbed with the negative, sexist connotation of a "housewife" being a dumb, lazy woman who is incapable of any sort of intelligence being thrown around in this thread. I find that just as disturbing than the stuff you guys are accusing Oprah for.

I'm not ashamed of watching the Oprah Winfrey Show time to time, especially if it was an issue I already interested in or celebrity I wanted to see her interview. It's just entertainment. If she was interviewing a celebrity or present an issue that did not sit well with me then I just did not watch it.

I'm finding it really annoying with these internet comments lambasting entertainment entities like they were forced to watch them. I know that entertainment is an influence on our culture but unlike politics you are relatively free not to be influenced by it in your personal life. If people were so above Oprah then they wouldn't be bothered by her.
posted by LilSoulBrother85 at 6:21 PM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Your sister is hollow inside and it's Oprah's fault? Easier than blaming your parents, I guess.

This is the old "guns don't kill people, people kill people" argument in different clothes. The fact is, people with guns kill people. Reading through this thread, the feeling I get is that regardless of what was going down on the cutting edge of the afternoon TV middle-class zeitgeist over the past 20 years, Oprah was there, fair or foul. Like the Billy Joel song, she didn't start the fires. Like the David Bowie song, she may have added some gasoline.
posted by philip-random at 6:43 PM on May 26, 2011


...and that's why not everyone will know that Anakin is Luke's father.

spoiler alerts, please!
posted by fallacy of the beard at 6:49 PM on May 26, 2011


Is this something I have to have to tv to know about?
posted by nooneyouknow at 7:55 PM on May 26, 2011


Oprah is something only the Pinball Wizard would've failed to notice.
posted by telstar at 8:18 PM on May 26, 2011


ironically, she would have been his biggest supporter.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 6:18 AM on May 28, 2011


I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.
posted by oxford blue at 10:46 PM on May 30, 2011


Thanks to Judge Judy, no doubt.
posted by y2karl at 9:01 AM on June 2, 2011


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