Much Ado About Oprah
There's a very unauthorized Oprah biography coming out this week, and already the internet's on fire with some of the more shocking revelations. While I don't want to give the author Kitty Kelley any more press than she's due, I wanted to weigh in on some of the more "scandalous" secrets that are allegedly revealed in this book:
1) Oprah is cold and controlling. Ya think? The woman runs a multi-billion-dollar empire and she's controlling? She made it to the very top of the media world as a fat black woman and you think she might be cold? Surprise, surprise. What's sad to me is that we would judge her for that. Were Oprah a man, not only would her success be less amazing, but she'd be given a pass for these particular personality flaws that were arguably necessary for her to achieve what she has.
2) Oprah once ordered two pecan pies from room service and *shudder* ATE THEM BOTH!! And what, Kitty Kelley? The earth tilted on its axis from Oprah's subsequent weight gain? As I've mentioned many times before in this blog, I'm a food addict, and if indeed Oprah suffers from the same problem (which I personally think she does) eating two pies in a sitting ain't no thang. I have, after a particularly bad day, personally inhaled a whole pizza and chased it with a cheesecake. Talk to any non-billionaire food junkie and you'll hear stories of food abuse that make Oprah's two pies look like a freakin' SNACK.
3) Oprah had an affair with the King of Milquetoast, John Tesh. The only thing I can fault her for here is bad taste, and even that charge is dubious because I have a cousin who also briefly dated John Tesh (hey, college is all about making bad decisions, right?). My guess is that Oprah dated him because of a serious insomnia issue, and anyone who has listened to Tesh's radio show for five minutes can tell you he's a miracle cure for that malady.
I'm no Oprah apologist - I find the show maudlin and self-conscious, especially the last few seasons. Occasionally, there's something or someone of interest on the program, but Oprah's self-involvement and mediocre interview skills often make the show difficult to get through. That said, I can also tell you I have great admiration and respect for Oprah and what she's accomplished. As a large woman who has worked most of her life in broadcast media, I can tell you that being labeled as controlling, eating two pies in a night, and dating the human equivalent of tapioca are small sins for a talented person to commit when they're trying to get ahead in that business.
Michele Coppola is a Portland-based writer and former radio personality whose most recent work has been published in the feminist journals So To Speak and Melusine. Find her blog at www.coppolawords.com