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Rant about Oprah Plus a Random Thanks on the BookClub…

January 24, 2010

Plea to Oprah: Stop bringing the world’s cultures to Americans homes, immediately.

There are many things that I find tepid about Oprah’s talk shows (not counting her book clubs), but nothing rivals the pure annoyance that is evoked by her cultural tourism shows.

[Side-note: I have not kept up with Oprah’s book club for very many years now. But I do remember doing so in high school. She had extremely good taste and diversity in the books that she selected back then (and I am sure now also). I have never understood people’s knee-jerk reaction to Oprah Book Club Selections as somehow “soft” or “chick-lit”—a term I dislike and I don’t think highly of people who use it. I read Toni Morrison because of Oprah and for that Oprah’s Book Club will always have a place in my heart. I also discovered and read The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard, I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb — to name just a few. All solidly, good books with strong, memorable writing and story-telling. I also discovered and read Jonathan Franzen’s lovely book Corrections, even though he was one of those people who need to get over themselves.]

Anyway, back to the original point of this post.

Egypt. India. The Ukraine. Oprah tried to show viewers what life’s like for married women in these places via her “Marriage around the World” show Wednesday. Unfortunately, the Queen of Talk came up short, delving into tired subjects such as Muslim women and the head scarf, mail order brides from Eastern Europe and why anyone would choose arranged marriage. What’s more is that while profiling women from around the globe, Oprah not only reinforces stereotypes about women of color but also argues that women from Denmark are the ones to be emulated. The not-so-subtle message? White Western women have it best, while others continue to lead pitiable, backwards lives. (Source Link)

A few years ago, she had done something similar with “famous-ness around the world”.

It was as if she didn’t believe in the Bollywood titans’ fame. Or had to put it in terms that Westerners understood. “They’re the world’s most famous movie-star couple. More famous than Brad & Angelina, anybody…”
Some pictures flashed onscreen of Justin Timberlake skirting paparazzi as he flung himself into an awaiting limo.
“Now imagine that kind of attention times 1000.” She showed footage of them with some Dutch girls in the stereotypical peaked Dutch caps. “They have FIVE! BILL-YON! fans. In Asia, Europe…” etc.

Then, of course, she had to explain that Julia Roberts had called Aishwarya the most beautiful woman in the world, as if only the opinion of a white celebrity could mean anything to her audience. (Source: Link)

Uhh. Seriously. I didn’t watch these shows, but I cannot even imagine doing so without my head exploding.

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