Today I snagged the "Oprah Says Goodbye" People Magazine (stacked on the top of Tibetan Buddhist Book of Symbols). Relax, Sheep, it's really just the "Oprah Plans to Say Goodbye in a Couple Years" edition.
Troy (a fellow non-fan) asked me what my problem with her is, and I subjected him to a long rant, which could probably be summed up by the same thing Anthony Bourdain famously said about Rachael Ray* (her protege, not surprisingly):
"She's selling us satisfaction, the smug reassurance that mediocrity is quite enough."(*Rachael later sent Tony a fruit basket and they kinda made up, and while I'm a little disappointed, I see his position, which is that Agata and Valentina is frickin' awesome.)
Now, Oprah's minions would argue that Mediocrity charge isn't true at all -- don't you know about her BEST LIFE?! Yep. I do. And I have no doubt Oprah's living her Best Life ... but for everybody else's Best, she sure doesn't aim very high.
I wouldn't dare reprint Newsweek's "Crazy Talk" cover (there's probably litigation pending), but I take their point -- which is that maybe it is irresponsible to present medical advice from say...Suzanne Somers and Jenny McCarthy, largely unfiltered ... alongside say, that of ...Dr. Oz (whom I like; his Smart Patient book totally changed the way I raise my parents). Sorry. Cardiothoracic Surgeons and Has-Been-Television-Blondes are not created equal.
Yeah, yeah. But her book club got America Reading Again? Maybe. But there again: where's the filter? Sorry, but Cormac McCarthy does not have the same literary merit Bill Cosby does. And I am glad James Frey bit her in the ass. Y'know what: I liked A Million Little Pieces. Y'know what else: I didn't read it as a self-help manual, and it irritated me when she selected it and started pitching it as one. He wrote one of my favorite paragraphs ever about the chronic 80s/90s tendency to blame one's parents for every bad thing that ever happened:
"People everywhere, they all want to take their own problems, usually created by themselves, and try to pass them off on someone or something else. I know my Mother and Father did the best they could and gave me the best they could and loved me the best they could and if anything, they are victims of me."Having dated a lot of Drunks, I also thought the book presented a pretty fair assessment of the"whining, complaining, and blaming" that seems to characterize a lot of addicts (and, coincidentally, a lot of her guests).
And what was up with the year she devoted to Faulkner? Don't get me wrong, I love Faulkner (I've written too many papers on him to count), but not for Book Club. She ushered in an irritating trend with that.
Don't get me started on what People calls "The Great Giveaway" where she gave a car to "every single person in the studio audience." What she gave everybody was a Commercial (complete with EMTs present!); Pontiac gave away the cars, all 276 of them.
The only thing I can think of where I'm on her side was the 1996 cattlemen's lawsuit. All she said was "it has just stopped me from eating another burger!" That's not slander. All she said was SHE wouldn't eat one. She's allowed to eat and not eat whatever she wants....
Which brings me to: her last round of weight gain. Now here again, of course she's allowed to eat whatever she wants, and weigh whatever she wants. I don't care. Food won't be added to or subtracted from my table based on what anybody else weighs, which makes it officially Not My Business. But People talks about her 1988 crash loss of 67 pounds and how "the weight, as she always admits to her audience, comes back." Well, for one thing, she can't help but admit it. The camera adds 10 pounds, not 70. Mostly she's been relatively honest about that (if you overeat and under-exercise you'll probably gain weight -- give or take -- some people definitely have it genetically harder than others).
But when she "came clean" with her readers and viewers in about how she "blew out her thyroid" -- that was the last Oprah straw. And when the press duly reported that she "revealed" she was suffering from a thyroid problem, that was another one. No. She didn't "reveal it." She just said it. There's a difference.
More accurately, she really doesn't "reveal" anything so much as she "proclaims" it -- and if she'd just confine herself to proclaiming stuff about Nate Berkus's ideas for making your bathroom look bigger, that'd be ok.
I hope that's what her new network will stick to... but I have some sneaking suspicions it won't be.
And for anyone who thinks I'm too hard on her, bear in mind, I haven't even mentioned Dr. Phil.
I don't think even Agata & Valentina could change my mind.... although they could change my mind about a lot of other things.