The time is ripe for Oprah Studies, and an essay in The New Republic is a perfect synthesis of all the ways we might regard Oprah’s impact on our culture.
I was enjoying the essay until I came upon the dreaded ‘paradigm shift.’ There is no getting away from that damn paradigm shift: I was reading an article about Otis Redding the other day and boom, there it was.
That said (little smiley face thing!), it’s a great essay, filled with incisive observations. Here are a couple:
In TV terms, Oprah’s multiplication of herself into simultaneous actual, fictional, and didactic selves was on the order of Picasso inventing cubism.
For all the show’s seesawing between horror and inanity, and precisely because of its cunningly orchestrated subtext of racial catharses–a la the exchange with Julia Roberts–“The Oprah Winfrey Show” is a racial utopia based on the exchangeability of colorless human pain. There is something beautiful and profound about that.
Oprah! How can we ever grasp the reach of your influence? I know one way. The night I sat on my couch like an enormous slug at 2:00 AM and watched a repeat of Oprah’s ‘Bra’ show was a pivotal moment in the narrative of my lingerie.
Oprah and her expert berated everyone for wearing the wrong size bra, even allowing themselves to feel up the unwitting victims who had agreed to try on the new sizes.
The revelation was delivered like the sermon on the mount: You need to go smaller around the back and larger in the cup! Every volunteer found that this was so. It was a joyous experience for all concerned.
I went out and got a new bra, following the holy formula. Sure enough, my bra fits better and my boobs have never been happier.
I will do anything Oprah wants, except vote for Barack Obama.