For years Oprah Winfrey has with her money and reach done many things to help people whether that help came from the Oprah show’s subject matter, giving her audience members cars or opening up a school in Africa. It can even be said her 2007 endorsement of Barack Obama is what put him over the top in his bid to become president of the United States of America. First let me be clear that while there is zero chance of my book being included in Oprah’s Book club, I have no problem with Oprah at all. Oprah Winfrey is an amazing person who has overcome unbelievable odds to become one of the most powerful and influential people in the world.
The Early Years
In September of 1986 The Oprah Winfrey Show was nationally syndicated. “Winfrey saw television’s power to blend public and private; while it links strangers and conveys information over public airwaves, TV is most often viewed in the privacy of our homes. Like a family member, it sits down to meals with us and talks to us in the lonely afternoons. Grasping this paradox, …She makes people care because she cares. That is Winfrey’s genius, and will be her legacy, as the changes she has wrought in the talk show continue to permeate our culture and shape our lives.” OPRAH WINFREY: The TV Host by Deborah Tannen,Time Magazine.
In the mid-1990s, Winfrey adopted a less tabloid-oriented format, doing shows about heart disease, spirituality, meditation and home decorating. She often interviews celebrities on issues that directly involve them in some way, such as cancer, charity work or substance abuse. In addition, she interviews ordinary people who have done extraordinary things or been involved in important current issues.
“Oprah is the most-watched US daytime talk show, aims to empower women. This article examines the show’s representations of gender and how images of `race’, sexuality and class cross-cut them. It considers the show’s status as television psychology. It explores the show’s translation of aspects of black feminism to television, and discusses the social implications of its `super-real’ representations.” Empowering Women? The Oprah Winfrey Show. Feminism & Psychology February 1994, Corrine Squire
Oprah’s early years of triumph and success were built on shows of Abuse. Abuse that was always male and often a black one. If she had a story on cheating, she would follow the same model, males in general and black in particular. Do black men do these things? Sure they do, but on the Oprah show, it seemed as if all black men do these things.
If Oprah had a show for the great husbands, or fathers of America. The show would be littered with white men, hardly if ever a black male, or even another minority male. Black male bad, White male good, Female superior are the themes that are constant to Oprah’s audience.
Fans of her show will never see her “bash” males, she brings others on the show for that. What you see when you watch her show is great gift ideas, good recipes, self-help advice, the rehabilitation of a celebrities career and who doesn’t get to know something about our favorite celebrities. She does invite males on her show, and they are usually viewed as “non-threatening”, or safe. And somehow her shows always seem to portray average black men as monsters and average white men as heroes. Yes it is Oprah’s show and she can do what she pleases with it. It is unfortunate that she seems to paint males as the very incarnation of violence, and young black males as monsters. For Oprah only women can be angels, and for the most part they are white as well.
We all understand helping women, but even more so we understand helping anyone in need, regardless of whether they too much hair on their face, or too much bass in their voice, this is just as egregious as helping someone due only to skin color. While there is no issues with Oprah the talk show host, there is an issue with Oprah the teacher, doctor or relationship expert by what she says and what she allows to be said on her show. She is to be commended because she is not and exploiter like Maury, Springer or Tyra. No one is perfect and this is something that Oprah, based on her history, should know first hand. In many respects Oprah deserves a lot of credit for tackling many important issues, except her own.