Friday, September 20, 2002

Watching Oprah - I've got a migraine today, so I came home early. It took a while to decide to leave, but at some point I realized that I wasn't getting anything done, which is more or less the reason for sick time. It's kind of odd to find myself developing a work ethic at this late date in life. I'd figured it had permanently atrophied.

Being home now means Oprah is on. Actually, it just ended, and she took the opportunity to plug Oxygen, for people still Jonesing for even more Oprah. She had Bono on talking about Africa and what needs to be done in order to save that continent. The gist of Bono's message is that it is very much to the shame of the developed countries have stood by and watched Africa go to hell. And, well, he's right. But he faces one big obstacle: as individuals, we are only moved to action when the motivating emotion (shame, in this case) reaches a high enough point that it over comes our instinct to inertia. But I guess that's why going on Oprah is a good thing. Oprah is, more or less, a pipeline to the emotional world of our country.

A lot of people throw a lot of nasty words at Oprah, but I've got to admit, I'm a fan. If I were home in time, I'd probably watch it most days. But I'm not, so I just get it filtered through Dionne, who reads the magazine, or through the critisphere, most of whom are so desperate to not appear to be a "fan", so desperate to protect their status as "critics" that they fall into cynicism. This is my take on Oprah: at some point, she found herself famous, and decided to use her status in order to improve the world according to her views on what that world should look like. I completely understand critics who disagree with her views, critics whose ideal world looks nothing like Oprah's. If so, then you've got a choice, either put forward your own ideas, or tear down somebody else's. I guess it's easier to take the negative path, but it's certainly more effective to put out your own ideas and see how people react. Right now, of course, Oprah seems to be winning that particular popularity contest, which is fine by me, really. I'd much rather live in a world run by Oprah and Dr. Phil than one run by Dick Cheney and John Ashcroft.

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