Why I don’t dislike OprahPosted: May 21, 2011
I can’t sit through an entire episode of Oprah. Not if I have a choice. There’s something grating about the audience; the fact that they punctuate every sentence she utters with vigorous applause annoys me like no other. I’m naturally wary of that sort of adulation.
But as her show wrapped up filming this week (and she was the cover story in the USA TODAY newspaper I read this morning, while eating some surprisingly delicious French toast), the magnitude of Oprah’s impact really hit me. In lieu of all the negative black women crap I’ve been imbibing (a combination of taking the class “Morrison, Walker, and Lorde” and reading that ridiculous Pscychology Today article about the apparent scientifically proven unattractiveness of black women), Oprah stands alone as the big blazing exception.
Home girl grew up dirt poor in Mississippi. She got pregnant at 14. Yet somehow through all that she was able to rise and become the single biggest cultural phenomenon of our time. And I’m not being hyperbolic. There’s at least one political scientist that credits Oprah with bringing in 1 million more votes to Barack Obama’s campaign. She got 90 million Americans to buy Anna Karenina. (Anna Karenina! Does that strike you as the kind of book 90 million Americans would buy on their own accord?) She has unprecedented power and influence. And she is an unapologetic black woman.
Straight up undeniably, milk chocolate black. And voluptuously, convincingly, biologically woman.
That her show gets broadcast in 150 countries around the world (including Nigeria, where I was incidentally forced, for the first time in a long time, to sit through an episode) is ridiculous. That she can win 35 Emmys until she so graciously took herself out of the running is ridiculous. That she can grace Time’s list of 100 most influential people an unprecedented six times is ridiculous.
I marvel at the kind of steely determination, cutthroatness, and arrogance that this woman must have to get so far. And yet I CAN’T watch her show. I’d rather watch endless episodes of Season 9 Scrubs and that’s pretty awful. I suppose that this blog post, then, is the closest thing to a tribute. 25 years, man. I must give props where props are due.