Thursday, October 13, 2005
Why I Hate Oprah. An Open letter.
Yesterday Oprah had Anderson 'I swear I am not gay' Cooper on her TV show talking about Poverty in America.
A host of different TV celebrities were shown ringing their hands over the poor. Oprah even made sure we knew she was down with the Kanye Westian notion that "it would have been different if it were white folks in New Orleans."
Meanwhile it was Anderson Cooper who tried to reassure all those anxious Soccer Moms who watch Oprah religiously that there "might have been a different response" if New Orleans was filled with minivans and Born Again's in trouble, but he wasn't "quite sure how it would have different. "
"I am grateful for Anderson Cooper. He took away my gnawing sense of guilt, and replaced it with something I am more comfortable with... ambiguity."
As always a Kennedy was in tow. Though this time it was only Maria Shriver. She was there to pay homage to rural Appalachia. What's a report on the poor in America without a hillbilly or two?
So what did we discover about these "Unseen Americans"?
Like us most of them make bad decisions, they just don't have any safety net to catch them. Then they are caught in the self defeating catch 22 of the culture of poverty.
"You know, lots of people make mistakes in their lives," Oprah says. "They get a break, and you get another chance, and you get another chance. But when you're poor, one strike, and you're out. "
When you don't have money in the bank, and when you don't have a family who loves you or who can care for you, the only place to fall back on is the street," Anderson says. "And the street is pretty damn hard."
So even when Oprah gets it "right," poor people make mistakes, she goes about asking her questions all wrong.
When you attack the problem of poverty from an Individualist Perspective you will always find causes and solutions for that particular individual. But does it really account for the widespread distribution of poverty?
Why not ask serious questions about lack of social services, education, jobs, rather than view the poor from the microscope of morality. Once you attempt to view the locus of decisions, you notice that they are all contingent.
Poor decision makers are made not born. If the alternative where true, then what could we do as society? Throw away persons won't make for a stable and secure future.
In their final analysis Cooper and Oprah hope to provide the answer to why poverty exists in the U.S. They claim poor people lack "drive."
When Oprah tells the poor they don't have the "drive of the middle class and other successful people" her incorrect analysis hurts poor peoples chances to find favor with the middle classes.
Because Oprah is supposed to be from the 'hood. She represents the rags to riches story. If she places the blame for poverty squarely on the backs of the poor themselves , everyone else will. They will say "If Oprah can rise up to be a billionaire, anyone can do it!"
It wasn't so long ago that Oprah herself was dirt poor so when she forgets it it's a crying shame and hypocritical.
To be fair, during her report Oprah didn't completely forget about her roots. She remembered them when saw herself in the personage of small poor black girl.
"This little girl has star quality." She oozed.
Oprah should realize that just like that little girl, the vast majority of poor are poor through no fault of their own. Most poor are children. Oprah should stop telling children they don't have the heart to be rich. Oprah lost your billion dollar heart a long time ago.
I hate to say this, but Oprah is different. She has a power over millions of people, the power to make them think.
Few people in America are viewed as an intellectual. Because so many people view you that way, you have the power to engage the intellect of the American psyche.
Instead you allow your contradictions to control you. Didn't I see a "tease" about an upcoming show where you will "beautify" ugly women? Don't you profess to hate the beauty industry and the male chauvinists who objectify women? Oprah, haven't you fallen into the same trap? Do you really need supermodels to show "average" people how they should really look?
Oprah you had a chance to correct the sad stereotypes of the poor, but you failed to do so. You had a chance to explain in depth and identify the structural problems which prevent wealth creation at the bottom of the rung, but you chose not to. You could have explained why the gap between the rich and poor is increasing, but you preferred emotional tales of imorality.
The poor don't need your misplaced pity, what we need is for you to engage the anger of the righteous middle classes into class warfare. The rich are at war everyday with the poor of this country. It's too bad their strongest defender hasn't joined with them in the trenches.
A defense of Insanity.--with my apologies to Tom Cruise I do know the history of Psychiatry.
Why I hate Wolf Blitzer and Why Tyra Banks scares the Shit out of me.
The Case for Race in Science.