Tuesday 14 September 2010


I’ve been watching Oprah for 25 years. That statement is terrifying even as I write it, as it makes me feel old, [and aside from breathing I really haven’t done anything consistently for twenty-five years]. But when it comes to the big O, I started young and never left the flock. My best friend and I used to come home from our respective high schools, meet at her house, park it on the sofa with various snack foods and watch her without fail. Back then Oprah was in competition with Sally Jessy Raphael, Donahue, Geraldo etc, who were all determined to break the bounds of sensationalism. You know the topics: incest, domestic abuse, cheating, racism, and so on. Whatever it was, it didn’t matter, my friend and I would tune in, talk during the entire show – cause of course we had to weigh in about her outfit, her hair, how she looked, how hard the guests cried. It was interactive television at its finest.

Then over the years, Oprah started to evolve as the other talk shows died away. She got more spiritual – or at least started to discuss it; she created book clubs, charitable foundations, television movies, even her own reality show, which of course had a good cause behind it (I was dubious at first, but let this one slide cause she was the big O). And with all of this her hair changed styles, her weight fluctuated - and was heavily documented and discussed - and her shoes got more expensive, not to mention her jewelry budget (she has these diamond earrings that are the size of small boulders, they are truly awe inspiring). Of course by her side through all of this was her best friend Gayle, I’m thinking one of the luckiest women in the world as she had a front row seat to just about everything…you thought I was going to say Steadman, didn’t you. Over the years, she also got a hell of a lot more fun. She still had the periodic guest with the tragic story that would leave you in a heap of tears on the floor (okay okay, it is a woman centered show), but she'd also show you that being a billionaire with a platform to do or say just about anything was a damn fine place to be. Be it the celebrity guests, or the roadtrips with Gayle, or the inside look into her life - the Big O isn't afraid of bearing all, she would put it out there. 

But the best part of her evolution was her move into the world of philanthropy, as there is nothing better than watching someone hideously wealthy give away their money. She’d give away cars to her entire audience (yes, cars),  or her ‘favorite things’ every Christmas (which usually ranged from food items to the more expensive luxuries like espresso machines and refrigerators) vacations, redo houses, give makeovers, fulfill dreams – I mean literally, if someone had a dream, she would make it happen on her ‘dream show.’ The sky was the limit – I’m thinking with a billion dollars in your bank you have a bit to work with. Recently she started her last and final season by sending her entire studio audience to Australia for eight days. That is 300 people all expenses paid on an eight-day excursion half way across the world. You don’t see Jerry Springer pulling that move, now do you.

My point of all this, is we need more Oprahs in the world. Love her or hate her (I find it is usually men that have a problem with her. My suspicion is that they feel threatened that a woman has done as well as she has. But that’s me.] having a billionaire woman with a philanthropic heart determined to change and enlighten the world is a good thing. Not to mention, any woman (especially a heavily endowed black woman, not some stick thin blond bombshell) that joins the billionaire boys club in four-inch Louboutin shoes is a good step for the women’s movement.
Copyright © 2014 Anthea Anka - Delighted And Disturbed