Oprah, Hollywood Heroine?
Forget the whole ridiculous notion of making Oprah Winfrey president. Am I the only one who finds it supremely ironic that she, of all people, should now, with a single speech at the Golden Globe Awards, be designated by public acclamation as the voice of the #metoo movement?
Think about it. The #metoo scandal is about two things: (1) the abuse of Hollywood power by a bunch of horny dirtbags and (2), whether you like it or not, the pliancy of innumerable young starlets who, over the decades, succumbed to those men's advances because they thought it would make them rich and famous.
Hollywood power, Hollywood wealth, Hollywood fame: who, let's face it, has celebrated these things more ardently than Oprah?
On social networks, a photo of her kissing Harvey Weinstein's earlobe has been shared widely as proof of hypocrisy. But I don't know: does the picture prove hypocrisy, or does it depict Oprah's genuine high regard – “reverence” may be a tad too strong – for a man who, after all, until his recent fall from grace, embodied Hollywood power, wealth, and fame? It seems to me that she gave him that smooch not because she needed to suck up to him – Oprah doesn't need to suck up to anybody – but for the same reason Ireland-enchanted tourists kiss the Blarney Stone, even though it's dripping with thousands of other people's germs.
Look at her talk show. She did more than just interview celebrities and plug their projects. She treated the stars as gods, the chosen people, the Elect, routinely holding up even the most vapid of them as geniuses, experts, role models. Hosting Will and Jada Pinkett Smith – a pair of egomaniacs who'd forced their grade-school kids into showbiz – Oprah presented them as ideal parents, qualified to dispense advice on raising a family. When she brought on Jenny McCarthy, Playboy Playmate turned MTV host turned sort-of-actress, Oprah not only let this pinhead spew her ignorant, dangerous theories about childhood vaccination but gave every sign of taking her seriously.
Similarly, when sitcom diva Suzanne Somers instructed menopausal Oprah viewers to take massive hormone doses to feel young again, Oprah relegated genuine medical specialists (who uniformly repudiated Somers' prescriptions) to the studio audience, where they weren't allowed to speak unless called on. The point was clear: Somers' fame made her amateur counsel more valuable than that of real authorities.
To be fair, Oprah's implicit endorsement of these Tinseltown twits' crackpot ideas wasn't rooted just in blind celebrity-worship. It also reflected an unsettling weakness for crank science generally. Think of it: at the height of her show's influence, she could have interviewed – and made household names out of – any number of world-class surgeons, scientists, researchers. Instead she gave us “Dr. Oz,” a promoter of phony miracle cures. (Oprah ultimately gave him a TV show, onto which he invited fellow mountebanks so they could peddle their own shady nostrums.) And she gave us “Dr. Phil,” who, although unlicensed to practice either psychiatry or psychology, pretended to straighten out jumbled lives in an hour, minus commercial time. (Oprah set up Dr. Phil with a show, too, on which he took cash under the table for endorsing products.)