|“Empty Oprah Syndrome” will be hard to kick!|
One could cogently argue that without Oprah Winfrey the entire concept of Black-Run America (BRA) would be devoid of its most influential pitch-man (woman for our ever progressive 2011 audience). That no TV personality can replace Oprah is a sign of the monster that has been created and the void that will be felt when she leaves on May 25.
What Billy Mays was to OxiClean, Oprah has been to BRA. And with her final show airing today, one can’t help but consider what we are losing (an in-depth look at the Oprah Winfrey Network – OWN – is coming tomorrow).
Thegrio.com wrote this about one of the only Black Billionaires (the founder of BET was once one, but he lost that ranking in a series of bad investments and blamed the citizens of Charlotte for his misfortune):
Television programming would be different in a world without Oprah Winfrey. Before she came on the scene, there were assumptions concerning what a television show host was supposed to look like. She broke barriers, and served as a living example to African-Americans, women and others that you can succeed in a world where you do not necessarily fit the mold.
“Nobody had ever seen anybody like me,” she told the Chicago Tribune of her early years in broadcasting at WLS-Channel 7 in the early 1980s. “They just couldn’t figure it out. I wasn’t pretty. I wasn’t even slim. I didn’t sing. I had no qualities that anybody could understand.”
Disingenuous White Liberal (DWL) women swear by Oprah, a woman who admitted she had no qualities that anybody could understand. Though her ratings have fallen since she endorsed Mein Obama (and the OWN Network is in horrible conditions), this demographic breakdown is a good indicator of the audience that Oprah has enjoyed over her 25 career:
Oprah’s audience is predominantly female, white, and over the age of 55. Nationally 7.4 million people watch Oprah daily — about 2.6% of American households. Four percent of American women (about 5.7 million) watch her daily, compared with 1.2% of men (1.7 million people). Overall, 2% of all 18- to 49-year-olds watch Oprah.Oprah has the highest ratings among older Americans -– a critical caucusing or voting block. 3.7 million people age 55 and older watch Oprah, and 2.7 million of these individuals are women. Eleven percent of all older black women watch Oprah, and 7% of all older white women watch the show everyday.Oprah’s audience is also predominantly white: 5.9 million of whites watch Oprah, compared with 1.4 million blacks. Her reach among the Hispanic population is tiny — only about 230,000 Hispanics watch the show daily.
When trying to research what made Oprah such an endearing figure, we came across this Time article from 2007:
Search term data also reveals the most popular topics for Winfrey’s demographic. After searches on Oprah’s name, by far the most popular query sending visits to her site was the term “the secret,” referring to a self-help book by February 8, 2007 guest Rhonda Byrne. The Secret, which has been on the bestseller list for 16 weeks since being featured on Oprah, argues that all you need to do to change anything in your life is to visualize that change.
While The Secret has been criticized as a collection of self-help clichés that oversimplify the path to self improvement, the juxtaposition of Oprah’s promotional power with the concept that you can create your own reality by simply thinking it creates an interesting scenario: want to become the next President of the United States? Here’s the prescription, simply visualize yourself as a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
Let’s be honest as to what Oprah Winfrey represents; a late-20th and 21st century Hattie McDaniel figure. Oprah is nothing more than an inoffensive update of Mammy from Gone With the Wind, an innocuous Black woman that represents the only colored-woman that most white women encounter in their lives.
Oprah’s probably the only Black woman tolerated in most white families households, and that she comes via the television makes it that much easier to enjoy “The Mammy” experience. Remembering that McDaniel stated later that:
As the 1940s progressed, the servant roles McDaniel and other African American performers had so frequently played were subjected to increasingly strong criticism by groups such as the NAACP. In response to the NAACP’s criticism, McDaniel replied, “I’d rather play a maid and make $700 a week than be one for $7.”
This quote gives you an appreciation for what Oprah represents, as she her show was an outlet for emotions and getting in touch with your feelings. Watching Oprah was much cheaper than getting therapy from a trained psychologist.
More importantly watching vapid stars such as obvious homosexuals like John Travolta and Tom Cruise share candid moments on the set of Oprah’s Chicago show allowed her predominately white audience the opportunity to live vicariously through her.
Oprah is nothing more than a well-compensated Mammy, who became one of the best examples of a Black Fictional Hero through the careful and skillful manipulation of the television audience. Thegrio.com wrote this about Oprah:
If Oprah never existed, psychology would not be as accessible to the public. The key to Oprah’s success has been in her ability to capitalize on a “confession culture” in which people bear their souls to the public. Oprah is credited by many for creating the public space that allows people to “tell all” on a range of personal matters that were once shrouded in secrecy and considered taboo, including sexual abuse. For good or for bad, she was the trailblazer when it came to giving public figures and celebrities a forum to express their feelings in front of a prime-time audience. And that is Oprah’s enduring legacy to popular culture.
Moreover, with Oprah sharing her own personal travails regarding abuse, relationships, body image and other issues on the TV screen, she has shown by example that you can “come clean” without fear of stigmatization or criticism.
We at SBPDL might be in minority, but who cares what celebrities think? Who care about “tell all” moments from celebrities who are merely famous for “being famous?” That she was able to build up a massive audience, launch a magazine that features her oscillating from kind-of healthy to borderline fat face on every issue, and create other media is a testament to the beauty of the democratization of media.
Oprah and her show represents the apex of Black-Run America. The personification of a “Mammy” figure, Oprah was able to create or break individuals with the simplest of endorsements or negative assessments. Her audience ate up her every word, because she represented their modern-day “Mammy.”
What’s fitting is that her ultimate creation, Oprah’s Frankenstein monster if you will, might represent the individual who brings BRA down to its knees. That creation is, of course, Mein Obama. When you consider the BRA-approved celebrities that will be seen on Oprah’s last show, you begin to realize that BRA’s influence has reached its apex:
Oprah Winfrey wiped away tears as celebrity after celebrity surprised her during a farewell double-episode taping of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” that will precede her finale.
“Thank you is not enough, but thank you,” Winfrey told the crowd of 13,000 gathered at Chicago’s United Center on Tuesday night for “Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular.” ”For your love and your support, thank you.”
The crowd gave Winfrey a standing ovation when she first walked on the stage. Then the stars came out, with Winfrey’s producers making good on their promise of the biggest celebrities of movies, music and television.
Aretha Franklin sang “Amazing Grace.” Tom Hanks acted as host for the evening.
Michael Jordan, who led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships during the 1990s, told Winfrey she inspires him. Tom Cruise, famous for his couch jumping on Winfrey’s show, was there. Jerry Seinfeld wore a tuxedo to give a comedy routine. And Madonna said she is among the millions of people who are inspired by Winfrey.
“She fights for things she believes in, even if it makes her unpopular,” Madonna said.
Winfrey announced in November 2009 that she would end her popular talk show after 25 years. Tuesday’s taping will air May 23 and 24, before Winfrey’s final show on May 25.
“You always had the power, and that is the message you brought into our lives,” Cruise told Winfrey.
The show highlighted Winfrey’s charity efforts over the years. About 300 Morehouse College scholarship students walked along the United Center aisles as Kristen Chenoweth sang “For Good” from the musical “Wicked.” Grammy winner John Legend was beamed in from a New Orleans school and Winfrey’s book club was lauded for getting millions to read.
Josh Groban and Patti LaBelle sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as Winfrey sat in a white chair onstage. Jamie Foxx and Stevie Wonder sang “Isn’t She Lovely” to Winfrey. Wonder followed with his own song, singing to her, “Oprah thank you for using your gifts to uplift so many hearts.” Simon Cowell made an appearance; Rosie O’Donnell sang a Broadway-style song.
Winfrey’s longtime partner, Stedman Graham, introduced Franklin after telling Winfrey he loved her and was proud of her.
“It really does amaze me that I get to be around a woman who changes people’s lives every day and who also takes her own lunch to work,” Graham told the crowd. “You know what really is amazing? You have done this, sweetheart, through all of the sacrifices you’ve made, humility you have and through God’s amazing grace.”
That’s when Franklin took the stage in a one-shouldered white gown to sing “Amazing Grace.” She later joined Usher for the show’s finale song, “Oh Happy Day,” as sparkly confetti filled the arena.
Maria Shriver, the TV journalist and Kennedy heiress, appeared on the same day it was revealed her husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger, fathered a child with a woman on his household staff more than a decade ago. Shriver did not mention her husband during the taping.
“You have given me love, support, wisdom and most of all the truth,” Shriver told Winfrey. “And I know I’m not alone in receiving those gifts from you.”
The taping of the second show began with Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who thanked Winfrey and told her she mothered millions and “that puts you in the status of a goddess.”
Actresses Halle Berry, Queen Latifah, Katie Holmes and Dakota Fanning all appeared, along with newswoman Diane Sawyer.
Beyonce sang her song “Run the World (Girls)” backed by dozens of dancers. Rascal Flatts performed too.
“Oprah Winfrey, because of you women everywhere have graduated to a new level of understanding of who we are, of what we are and most of all who we can be,” Beyonce said.
Of what value have any of the aforementioned people brought your life? Validation for living?
So here’s to Oprah Winfrey and her last show on network television. That the OWN network is failing is of little concern, but what we care about is that millions of white women throughout America are about to lose the only Black friend they had.
Their “Mammy.” Their Oprah.