Oprah’s abuse of cultural power

June 3, 2009

Read the Newsweek article.

Oprah would do more good for women if she could strip away the bullshit. These two bits encapsulate the danger:

In real life, [Oprah] has almost nothing in common with most of her viewers. She is an unapproachable billionaire with a private jet and homes around the country who hangs out with movie stars. She is not married and has no children. But television Oprah is a different person. She somehow manages to make herself believable as a down-to-earth everywoman. She is your girlfriend who struggles to control her weight and balance her work and personal life, just like you. When she recently related the story of how humiliated she felt when she arrived for a photo shoot to find that she couldn’t fit into the clothes she was supposed to wear, she knew she had every member of the audience in her hand. 

Which is great, except when it isn’t.

[A]fter the first two shows on The Secret, Oprah invited a woman named Kim Tinkham on the program. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and her doctors were urging surgery and chemotherapy. But Tinkham wrote Oprah to say that she had decided to forgo this treatment and instead use The Secret to cure herself. On the show, Oprah seemed genuinely alarmed that Tinkham had taken her endorsement of The Secret so seriously. […] A few weeks earlier, Oprah could not say enough in praise of The Secret as the guiding philosophy of her life. Now she said that people had somehow gotten the wrong idea.

I’m focusing on the pitfalls of Oprah’s message because they mirror our larger public confusion over the value of subjective experience. I live my life a lot more intuitively these days. I’m sure Oprah would be proud. But without a critical eye, intuition leads you astray. This is why some people need to be talked down from an intense drug experience. I guess what I’m saying is, Oprah is a powerful narcotic. Approach with caution. Don’t operate heavy machinery.

See also:


2 Responses to “Oprah’s abuse of cultural power”

  1. yahookid Says:

    What’s your reaction on the new Forbes 100 list of 2009?

    To read more, go to:


  2. james Says:

    i love that youre so on about oprah all the time. maybe you just need a day job?

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