It’s not often that Oprah makes use of her journalism background to tackle tough real-life issues for her audience during the show. Most of the time it seems as if she would rather focus on sensationalistic topics, rather than the ones that she could actually make an impact on with her enormous influence.
Fortunately for THE WORLD she had chosen to devote an entire episode to exploring the growing economic gap between upper and lower class citizens in America. I was lucky enough to catch this important episode after a bout of insomnia, and I felt it was important enough to share with you.
Rather than speak to economic experts or leading politicians for the bulk of the program, Oprah used an everyman* approach by showing class differences through stories told by real-life rich and poor people! In one particularly moving segment, an upper-middle-class housewife complains about how expensive and tiring it is to keep up the ‘facade’ of being an upper class woman.
Even though her husband earns a six figure salary, she still manages to put the family into debt with her spending habits. By purchasing furniture and designer labels they keep up the appearance of being in a higher tax bracket than they actually are. What will the neighbors think? Boo hoo. In the same segment, a lower class family struggles merely to stay clothed and put food on the table.
Later on Oprah discusses her own views on class in America, which basically boils down to “work hard, and you’ll be as successful as I am.”
Her guest, a former Clinton ecnomic advisor, tells Oprah that moving up in class is a combination of luck, hard work, education and connections. This statement angers Oprah; the black girl born into poverty who eventually became the richest and most powerful woman on planet Earth.
Oprah: “There is no such thing as luck. I don’t consider myself lucky at all.”
Now I love sassy black women as much as the next guy (possibly moreso!) but the idea that Oprah Winfrey is completely deserving of that level of success is ridiculous. Was it the degree she got from Tennessee State University that got her there? Somehow I doubt the rest of her graduating class has a net worth of several billion dollars.
There is no denying that Oprah is incredibly talented and enterprising, but no amount of book clubs or heart-to-heart interviews can justify the power, fame and fortune she has received by doing a daytime talk show.
Am I wrong here? If not, I’ll be transferring to Tennessee State this Fall.
*By this I actually mean ‘everywoman.’ The only men on Oprah’s shows are either celebrity automotons, or the end result of a female-to-male sex change operation.