The Thinking 

Why Is Oprah So Popular?

November 25, 2009


MarkyMark writes:

My question is this: Why is Oprah so popular? Why were so many women taken in by her? Why weren’t more women able to see through her and her message? You’re one of the few who has. By the way, I agree with you: Few people have done more to damage American women than Oprah Winfrey has. 

Laura writes:

I don’t watch Oprah regularly, but I’ve watched her enough to know she is talented. Is she talented enough to warrant the Oprah Phenomenon? No.  But she is warm, funny, smart, charming and curious. As shown in her interview with Sarah Palin, she is a top-notch journalist, able to ask probing questions and – something few television journalists seem capable of anymore – follow up these questions, insisting on answers. As much as people may dislike the omnipresence of Oprah and lament her influence on the culture at large, which I do, it seems very few people actually dislike Oprah. One also cannot discount the role of will in her success. She is a very hard worker.

Middle America wants its gestures of good will to blacks to be requited, and that’s another factor in her success. Middle class whites approve of her and she likes and approves of them. She gently fuels the image of America as a white racist nation, but still  radiates acceptance of whites themselves. This feels good. I know elderly women who are very unlikely Oprah viewers and yet they rave about her. If she were white, I doubt their enchantment would be the same.

Oprah has struggled with her weight, another important ingredient in her success. Oprah is reassuringly flawed. She is Everywoman. There’s no need to be actually jealous of Oprah. For all her wealth, she is human and will never be thin.

Oprah’s success is also obviously driven by the role popular culture has assumed in the lives of ordinary people. Oprah is the girlfriend who is always there. In a world where the average woman makes appointments to see her friends and where neighbors are often no more than the occupants of passing cars, Oprah is always available.

Last but not least, the Oprah empire is a successful commercial industry with many talented professionals working hard day after day to provide a show and a glossy magazine that appeal to the tastes of contemporary women, with features on fashion, parenting, cooking, decorating, relationships and the New Age spirituality so congenial to women across America. It knows her audience well.

Lydia Sherman writes:

Don’t forget that Oprah gained her support from her roots in Christian beliefs. She grew up with good teachings, and for the most part, reflected these values in the beginning of her show. She was therefore, given a lot of support by those who had conservative, Biblical beliefs similar to hers. After she gained popularity, largely from the Christian people who supported her, she forgot those humble people who gave her that success, and began to entertain those with New Age ideas. She forgot her early Bible lessons when she stated that she turned against her Christian beliefs when she heard a preacher state that God was a “jealous” God. She failed to discern the meaning of “jealous” in the sense that it was given in the Bible.

God is a jealous God in that he is protective over those he loves, just as we are jealous over our children. As we do not want our children to follow other parents or peers, God does not want his followers to follow after other teachings outside of those He has laid down in His word. There is a big difference between being jealous over the success and belongings of another, and being jealous over our own. Families jealously guard their loved ones from danger. A shop owner jealously guards his belongings from theft. A bird jealously guards her nest. Oprah’s misinterpretation of the word “jealous” involved the intent it was given in the scripture, below. If Oprah had bothered to read it in the context, with the other verses connected to it, she would have understood it better. As we certainly don’t want our children following after false doctrines, God did not want his people following other gods, and justifiably so. 

For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: (Exo 34:14)

Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;(Exo 34:15)

And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.(Exo 34:16)

Laura writes:

 That is fascinating. I did not know about her explicit rejection of Christianity, only that she had embraced New Age spirituality. Certainly she would have been an outsider among the Hollywood elite if she had held onto her beliefs. It makes one wonder what kind of pressure, subtle or overt, she experienced to abandon them, which is not to say that would justify her decision.

Lydia writes:

I know she spoke of singing in the choir at a small church where she lived, and of her basic Biblical beliefs. I think Oprah was “used” by the powers that be. They made her into a feminist icon.

Rita writes:

If Oprah Winfrey was ever a true Christian or not, is debatable, in my opinion.  She is someone who has chosen to stay in an unmarried relationship with Stedman (sorry I don’t know his full name) for 20 plus years. I’m going to make a wild guess and assume it was not a Platonic relationship and that she was engaging in sex outside of marriage. She said, “I wanted to know that he did want to marry me. But once he proposed, I was over it…The traditional role of marriage wouldn’t work in this relationship.”  What kind of woman plays games like that with a man’s head?? No good Christian woman I know.

With all due respect to Mrs. Sherman, I never saw much Christian “fruit” in Oprah’s life, particularly in the early years. She’s a chameleon. She pulled a G.W Bush on everyone, carting out her “Chrisitanity” to get support. I doubt she was ever the real deal.

The Oprah I remember from early episodes of her show was interviewing the most perverse people. She was the original Jerry Springer. Americans learned about things that used to be whispered, if they were talked about at all. She helped take away our innocence as a country. In my opinion, she also brought pop psychology into every American home. If my memory serves me correctly, she taught women they shouldn’t “bottle up” their bad feelings but instead should spew them at will (generally onto men). Now her and Dr Phil, continue the attack on men, teaching THEM to be more sensitive.


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