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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Oprah Ending - Ending Oprah

It's the end of the world - well, sort of. This week, Oprah ends her daytime reign. She's hanging up her microphone and putting her set in mothballs, and the whole world, it seems, is in a tizzy. Her celebrity BFFs seem to be taking it the hardest of all. Watching their tearful two-part tribute to Oprah, a cavalcade of famous people, including Tyler Perry, and First Friend Gayle King gushed over Oprah, praising her success and her generosity of spirit.

And it's only fair that they, the celebrities, should make such a fuss over the woman who, in many cases, saved or revived their careers. It was Oprah who helped to make these often vapid, one-dimensional characters into fleshed out human beings who are just like you and me - save for the ridiculous amounts of money and fame. She was their Mother-Confessor who granted forgiveness in her Harpo Studios confessional.  When Julia Roberts needed to clear the air over her failed marriage(s) and the sordid romantic triangle that became the basis for her current wedded bliss, it was to Oprah she went. When TV mom Meredith Baxter needed to tell her story of marital abuse, it was to the loving arms of Oprah that she flew. When Tom Cruise wanted to let the world know that he wasn't crazy and was, in fact, just a regular guy, head-over-heels in love with little Katie Holmes, Oprah's was the only couch worthy of his now infamous sofa jump.

With Leno and Letterman and Kimmel and Conan on the air, you'd think that Oprah would be rendered unnecessary, but you'd be wrong. Oprah created her own little universe, complete with its own jewel-toned palette of smartly-dressed, enthusiastic audience members who provided a backdrop for the spinning of celebrity tales of hurting and healing. To be a celebrity guest on Oprah meant a rigorous course in Oprah-ese, a language built on new-age, therapeutic discourse where people "named their truth," and had frequent "a-ha moments".

Now, that's not to say that your celebrity appearance was strictly about your own personal "journey" - no, there was always room for marketing, like those times when the entire casts of the latest Tyler Perry movie would take the stage.

I know, it may seem as if I'm not sad about her departure, and, in fact, I'm not. But it's not due to personal animus - it's just time. I don't need Oprah to tell me how much celebrities are just like me and you because, guess what, they're not. They live in a highly-competitive environment of constant scrutiny and little privacy, all fearing that "the next big thing" will end their careers.  Where newspapers and blog sites have huge, blaring headlines about their 10-pound weight gain or their thinning hair. That Oprah, herself, is one of these celebrities isn't lost on me. Her interviews with these celebrities have seemed more like highly choreographed conversations between friends, and so there's no danger, really. And maybe that's why Oprah's ending it. Maybe, she had her own Oprah "a-ha moment" and realized that if you can get a President elected, you don't need to sit down with yet another celebrity to hawk their tell-all book...I'm just saying:)

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