So Long, Oprah!

Today is the last Oprah Winfrey show. I am celebrating. Her 25 year reign as culture queen is coming to an end. You may want to celebrate with a toast; raise a glass of your favorite adult beverage as her show comes on and continue it as the theme music swells. If it was good enough for Obama and Queen Elizabeth, it’s good enough for Queen Oprah.
Young people may not even remember the world before Oprah. Yes, there was daytime television at one time when her opinions and recommendations didn’t exist. We managed to do quite well.
In fact, many of us would say we did better.
Many of us could find a good book on our own, without her book club. Seriously. It wasn’t that hard. Sometimes a friend would recommend one; sometimes a family member; sometimes another talk show or newspaper article. They were good books, too, written by real authors. If you read a book like James Fry’s “A Million Little Pieces” you might even have spotted the fraud yourself.
People still made public fools of themselves, without Oprah encouraging a cry fest on her sound stage. Sob stories have always abounded.Since Oprah, though, we now know that the sleaziest of people can be redeemed just by turning on the waterworks and feigning an apology. There’s more than one born every minute now since her show started showcasing naughty celebrities and politicians.
In the old days, Americans could figure out what to eat without checking with Oprah first. Most of us understood that packing down a burger, shake and fries at every meal wasn’t going to help us slim down. Oprah showed us how to go on a liquid diet, lose a lot of weight – and then put it back on again. Still, she didn’t hesitate to foist her views on the American public. Her personal chefs got to be celebrities in their own right, even though Oprah never got anywhere near model status.
Not one to leave any cultural stone unturned, Oprah also inspired our spirituality. In the 70s and earlier, Americans would go to their church or temple on the weekend, listen to the priest or rabbi and try to adhere to a moral code. Oprah showed us that was no longer any good.
“God is a feeling experience and not a believing experience,” Oprah said. “If your religion is a believing experience…then that’s not truly God.” Who knew?
The New Age trend really couldn’t have happened without O. First she liked “The Secret,” where people were advised they could change their lives by positive thoughts or vibrations. Then she introduced her audience to Eckhart Tolle and his book, “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.” The residents of Joplin, Mo., can be comforted by his words: “the primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.”
So big was Oprah’s influence that she inflicted Dr. Phil on us. We used to think we could manage our own lives, seeking a counselor or psychiatrist if needed. That is so old school, old America now. Tune into Dr. Phil or Oprah and you can blame it on low self esteem instead of the personal self examination we used to engage in.
There was a time when Americans frowned on two people living together, especially as a role model for young people. That didn’t stop Oprah; she and Stedman never did tie the knot. Now we have seen that marriage as the bedrock of society needn’t apply to us.
The U.S. was not a big enough canvas for Oprah’s oeuvre. She decided to school the world. South Africa was the next target where she set up her Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. Sure there was some sexual abuse there, but Oprah has gained the infallibility of the Pope. Her motives are good, so results don’t much matter.
Remember when Laura Bush asked Oprah to go to Afghanistan with her to encourage Afghan women and schools? O turned her down. She didn’t want to get into politics. Republican politics, that is, because she certainly sprang into the fray, money flowing, when Obama came into the political arena.
Again, in the ancient days before Oprah, citizens could listen to a candidate, study what he said and decide their voting preference. We didn’t need Oprah crying by the fake columns at Obama’s Denver speech to figure out who might make us feel good as president.
So to those of you worried about not knowing what to do with leader Oprah gone, take solace in the past. Americans managed without her before and we’ll manage without her again.
Happy days are here again!

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