Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Oprah: We Made You and We Can Break You

I don't often speak about Oprah because to be honest, I have fallen in and out of love with her a multitude of times over the years.  While I appreciate her significance as a WOC, the classist nature of her show can sometimes turn my stomach. 

image For the first time in her career, Oprah decided to embrace a candidate.  Whether or not you agree with her choice, it was still her choice to make.  Each election cycle celebrities declare their allegiances to the different candidates, and the public gives said endorsement the weight that it thinks is necessary in their decision making process.

Barack has graced Oprahs stage twice, and both times were before he declared his candidacy. Since the nomination of Sarah Palin some womens groups are insisting that she be given the opportunity to appear on Oprahs show. They feel that this would allow for balanced representation, even though Barack has not appeared himself since winning the nomination.  The Florida Federation of Republican Women has launched a boycott against Oprah Winfrey’s TV show and magazine because the talk queen has said she will not have Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin on her show until after the election. This is a classic case of bend to our will, or we will break you. 

No other celebrity is being held accountable for their political choices; Oprah is the exception rather than the rule.  Gee I wonder what would make Oprah different from all of the other celebrities that have endorsed either  McCain or Obama? Let me think.  Could it be...no.. it couldn't be her race could it? When she first endorsed Barack over Hillary, pundits declared that she would alienate her viewership which was largely white women, and now it seems that there is some veracity to their point of view.  As long as Oprah was neutral and not taking an active stake in the political world, the white majority were content to embrace her.   The moment she dared to speak for her own hopes and dreams, suddenly she was the great betrayer of women. 

Why is her voice, or her hopes any less important than that of Melissa Ethridge, or Madonna?  Why is it her body that must bear the brunt of their anger?  There is no call to boycott anyone else, only the backstabbing black Jezebel who dared not to do the bidding of her largely white audience. 

When people say that we reside in a post racial world they are specifically excluding examples like this.  That white women think that they can still bully WOC into performing behaviour to please them, is a signification of the entrenchment of white privilege.  White women have become accustomed to the loving worship of mammy like figures, and to this day still expect WOC to fulfill their every desire, whether or not it is in our best interest.  One day I intend to write a eulogy for Mammy, because now she only lives in the imaginations of those that continue to think that their needs, outweigh the needs of anyone else. Good for you Oprah, I may have to watch now just in spite.


SjP said...

"to this day still expect WOC to fulfill their every desire, whether or not it is in our best interest." You hit that nail on the head with the head of the hammer! Mammy died along time ago...she gone with the wind.

Anonymous said...

Mayhaps it is because Oprah is quite openly pro woman, and pro black. These people supported her because they are the same as she. They have their bias, just as she has hers. The only difference is that this time the biases fall at odds with one another.

That's her choice, and good for her if that's what she chooses. On the other hand, people have the freedom to recognize that and call her out on it.

AR said...

No other celebrity is being held accountable for their political choices; Oprah is the exception rather than the rule. Gee I wonder what would make Oprah different from all of the other celebrities that have endorsed either McCain or Obama? Let me think. Could it be...no.. it couldn't be her race could it?

What's different about Oprah? Oprah is a "celebrity" is the same sense that John Rockefeller was a "businessman" or that Leonhard Euler was a "mathematician." She is considered by many to be one of the most influential people in America. Can you think of any other celebrity that can put any book on the New York Times Bestseller list on a whim?

Besides having a lot more cultural power than any other "celebrity," she is also the 165th richest individual in the world, owning about $2,500,000,000 in assets.

So, yeah, I think that there are a few minor things that distinguish Oprah from any other celebrity besides her race.

KentuckyGal said...

Of course, Sarah Palin is not the first woman candidate for VP of the US.

You see, that's why Oprah would not make a good politician. She is not afraid to stand up for that in which she believes. Most politicians are. They are too worried about getting re-elected to do what they believe is right.

I wouldn't vote Republican just because their vice presidential candidate is a woman. Neither would I vote a Democratic ticket just because their presidential candidate is black.

Anonymous said...

Oprah kicks ass! :D Also, if she did invite Palin I bet Palin would decline (hasn't she been avoiding interviews?).

mzbitca said...

Oprah can have whomever she damn well pleases on her show because it's her show. I give her credit for standing by her beliefs and opinions and not buckling just because people are asking her too.

frau sally benz said...

I usually don't have much to say about Oprah either, one way or the other. I thought it was bad enough when people were claiming that her career was basically over when she endorsed Obama. That was bad enough. Now, all I hear is that she's "bad for women" because she won't have Palin on her show?! What?! That doesn't even make sense.

If there are legitimate reasons for not having her on - which Oprah has given, mainly that she doesn't want claims that she was biased - then what's the problem? My question is, why is the McCain camp so key on having Palin on Oprah? We all know what would happen if Palin went on the show, Oprah would talk mainly about her past, ask one or two (or more) tough questions, and then get attacked by the Republican party for being "too hard" on Palin. We're not stupid, and the fact that they are making such a huge deal about this is just obnoxious.

The Fearless Blog said...

"No other celebrity is being held accountable for their political choices; Oprah is the exception rather than the rule." You make many valid points.

Unfortunately, human beings remain imperfect, prejudice and judgmental, not just in the US but across the world. As a Hispanic woman, I feel fortunate that I live in a culturally and ethnically diverse city. I am proud to know and associate with people from all corners of the earth.

I have tremendous respect for Oprah, always have but it has nothing to do with her color or her gender; it has everything to do with her accomplishments and her attitudes as a human being. And you are right, as a conservative I was hurt that Oprah would exclude "my" candidate, yet I cannot help but admire, as I always have, her determination and courage to remain "firm and true to herself regardless of the backlash." Geeze Oprah shares a great deal in common with so many women....doesn't she?

Anonymous said...

Well Said! I am sure Oprah will stick to her guns, this is not about Palin's sexuality it is about her Politics! WOC have been supporting Oprah for generations just like WONC so she will not fall just because I few turn off the tube!

Designing Hilary said...

Oprah is big business and there's really not much the Florida Federation of Republican Women can do to sink her ship. She's already weathered plenty of storms.

I'm white, but I don't see Oprah in color. I don't look at her as WOC, but I see a successful business mogul. I am not a fan of her for certain reasons ... I rarely watch her show and never buy her magazine, but I respect her. As a business woman, she's a model worth studying.

What is it about politics that brings out the idiocy of people? It's a scary institution.

It just dawned on me that IF Palin came on the Oprah show after all, that would probably be Oprah's most viewed episode. She could probably command close to Super Bowl-sized revenues for ad spots. Good thing she's already made her fortune or else she might be sorely tempted!

mycolorfulheart said...

I too am not that big a fan of Oprah, mainly because her shows are aimed at richer, older women than I; I don't hold that against her because many women do fall into that category. But I respect her alot and I'm glad that she's not letting Palin on her show. I think once you ENDORSE a candidate, you've pretty much stated your side and that is that.

feministblogproject said...

Wow, just wow. I mean, I understand if people were outraged that a supposedly-neutral news program did not devote equal time to candidates, but this is a daytime talk show, for goodness sakes. A daytime talk show does not HAVE to be neutral.

Another interesting thing . . . people keep claiming that since Oprah had Obama on her show twice, they need to have . . . Sarah Palin? . . . on to keep it fair. Am I missing something, or are these protestors not asking Oprah to have McCain on her show? Why is it PALIN that has to be on her show? Because she's a woman? Wouldn't it make just a teensy bit more sense if people were asking Oprah to give equal time to the potential presidents, not one potential president and one potential VP?

nhuong said...

"The Florida Federation of Republican Women"
Have they ever seen Oprah's show? Do they even know what channel is on?

First of all, it's her show, she can do whatever she want. She has no obligation to anyone. She's NOT a news caster. She's entertainment and she can do whatever she wants.

The Fitness Diva said...

I'm glad that she's standing her ground on this.
It's her show, and she should be able to feature and support whoever the hell she wants. I think that she will lose a few of her WW fans as a result of this, but who cares? She's already made her mark, and if her show closes up shop tomorrow, that woman is going to be just fine.

Ebony Intuition said...

If Oprah invites Sarah on her show after the elections then what are all the people who think she is being biased going to say. Oprah did not say that she would never bring Sarah on the show she said she wouldn't bring her on until after the elections.