Over at National Review they’re running a Symposium exploring whether Oprah Winfrey’s long-running talk show has been a net-positive or negative for the nation.
I participated in the symposium, along with Charlotte Allen, Cal Thomas, Suzanne Venker, Danielle Bean, Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, Pia de Solenni and many others. It makes for a very interesting round-up of opinions
My own response was quickly dashed-off and had I taken more time, I believe I would have stricken the too-easy joke at the end, but there it is.
I recalled and dug up this Mark Steyn piece from 1998, which is relevant:
In this fragmented media age, not many TV performers are privileged to become nouns and adjectives, admitted to the same select group as Thatcherism and Dickensian. If anything, Oprah Winfrey’s achievement is more impressive than Margaret Thatcher’s or Charles Dickens’s. Oprahfication doesn’t refer to anything as piffling as a partisan creed or a stylistic voice; as denounced by the Wall Street Journal, it means “public confession as a form of therapy,” but even that doesn’t quite cover it: Rather, Oprahfication has become the routine designation for nothing less than the wholesale makeover of the nation, and then the world. Recently, it has been casually deployed to disparage not only President Clinton’s “national conversation on race” but also the new, breast-beating post-Di, post–Killer Nanny, flaccid-upper-lipped British public. Oprahfication, in that sense, is a term that has slipped its original moorings: Oprah herself had nothing very illuminating to say about the Princess of Wales, and her own conversations on race tend to be more robust, bringing together the author of the insightful tome Why Black People Tend to Shout (I forget the reason) with a studioful of prime exhibits.
But, as Ohio reminded us, there’s a world of difference between the Winfrey wannabes and the genuine article. When Oprah decides personally to Oprahfy something or another, the results are spectacular:
Finally, thanks to Susannah Breslin who sent this along, from “Team Coco”: about the men who will be sad to see Oprah go
UPDATE: Kathryn Jean Lopez on Oprah’s “Augustinian” View
I like that Oprah can laugh at herself, as she did on 30 Rock, when a stoned Liz Lemon mistook a 12 year-old girl for her idol: