Oreo Oprah

The rapper 50 cent recently called Oprah an Oreo. Black on the outside, white on the inside. He claims that Oprah, "started out with black women's views but has been catering to middle-aged white American women for so long that she's become one herself."

I don't know, as a middle aged white woman I don't feel Oprah's speaking for me either these days. As part of today's show on managing your financial windfall, she interviewed a homeless man that had been given $100,000 by a documentary filmmaker.

The filmmaker followed the homeless man around to see what he would do with the money. If he would be able to pull himself up by his bootstraps and set up a "normal" life for himself. Well what the hell did you think was going to happen? People aren't homeless because they have excellent coping skills but just say "to heck with housing!" Most folks who are on the street are at the worst mentally ill, at best simply unable to function in a way that allows for a normal life. The entire story felt like it was supporting some demented Ah-Ha moment that backed up the idea that if you give a homeless person money they are just going to spend it on (insert stereotype here).

At one point Oprah told the story of how she gave a homeless person a suit and told them to show up the next day and she would give them a job. She seems injured as she tells us, "He took the suit. He took the suit and didn't show up for the job!". Riiiight. Cause the homeless are basically lazy you know. Just shiftless wanderers who really don't want to work. Needless to say this was an incredibly frustrating show.

A family member of mine was mentally ill. He had been abused most of his childhood and was never able to fully recover. Periods of his life were spent as a homeless person despite the money given to him by family members and multiple hospitalizations. Ultimately, he committed suicide. We all mourned not only his passing but the sadness and isolation he couldn't break out of so that he could join his community and heal.

Though I realize today's show pushed my buttons because of my own connections with homelessness I still think Oprah is an incredible narcissist. She can't empathize with guests unless she can somehow compare their struggles with her own (sometimes making absurd leaps) or become their benefactor. (Celebrity interviews stray slightly from this path, but they are often cast as her mentors or close peers.) As an example, an incredibly heavy man who suffered from sleep apnea talked about how he is so exhausted from lack of rest and his poor diet that he feels like he's 50 years old. Well, despite the fact that the man was in tears, and his wife feared his death by heart attack was imminent Oprah craned her neck, preened and proclaimed, "50 feels pretty good to me. Pretty good to me!". Cause, it's all about Oprah, ultimately.

Sigh. Stepping off my soapbox now. Here are a few links to help the homeless. Not only for this holiday season, but year round.

CSH (Corporation for Supportive Housing)
Project Renewal (Psychiatric support for mentally ill homeless)

Please leave a link in the comments section if you know of a great organization that helps!


colorbox said...

Lotta you are truly a beautiful woman. Upon discovering your blog, I read through the archives....at times laughing so hard I nearly wet my pants. We all already know you are hilarious ( a feat that takes both intelligence and thoughtfulness) but a post like this is so very telling of the heart you are working with. I am just so glad that you are out there...living in this world....and reporting back. And Oprah? The narcissism seems to get worse with each passing year. A shame really. sigh. So much power to do good...so little ability to do it.

Anonymous said...

I'm With You!

What I find comletely amazing is that the public actually listens to Oprah as if she has had some sort of divine conversation with the Buddha and is now qualified to tell people how to live. Money doesn't make you smarter... just richer. End of story. What I also find mind boggling is that if Bono decides a cause is worthy than people will listen and buy the shirt to support the cause. Well the cause has been there all along, but not until some rocker gives credence to it do people listen. Crazy stuff.

OK, I'll quit ranting now and start working on my mother-in-laws christmas present.


PamKittyMorning said...

Lovely thoughtful post.

latebloomer said...

You are a treasure. What an amazing ability you have to communicate--generally resulting in tears--whether from hysterical laughter or your poignant commentary...
Geeze, that sounded corny.

Anonymous said...

Love ya, Lotta...

Oh, The Joys said...

What I wish most about Oprah's charitable contributions is that she would make them without requiring the recipient to blubber in thanks on her show. She doesn't leave the recipient much dignity and that frustrates me.

Kimberly Sherrod said...

I bought Opera's magazine starting with the very first issue and thought it was so wonderful.After a few years I realized I just couldn't buy into her Aha moments or favorite $2,000.00 sweater.So, I quit subscribing. I "get her" but she lives in another universe! Her house in Hawaii- oh how many days a year does she actually spend there do you think? The school in Africa was certainly a lovely and charitable thing for the girls lucky enough to be chosen to go but why not do that here? She is an American afterall. In Chicago or her hometown? I never watch her show. I don't usually turn the tv on during the day, anyway.And She's a celebrity for sure! I think in her own mind she is charitable and kind but she's also a shrewd business woman who writes off everything! She makes so much money she has to give some away! Your story was very touching and I enjoyed your perspective and I felt very sad as well for your family member. I think Oprah has run out of topics that are meaningful and she tries to imbue everything with that drama to keep us rivited to the screen..I have wondered when she was going to quit and move on. Anyone know the deal with Stedman?!I just wonder sometimes..

Lotta said...

Wow, some amazing comments. I was fully prepared to be roasted for dissing Oprah. Thanks ladies. Very touching stuff.

Red Rollerskate said...

I love how you picked up on Oprah's "50" comment as being all about her. You are right on. I agree with your view on the homeless. I have always been frustrated when people have ONE EXAMPLE of a homeless person who was lazy, and therefore all of them are lazy (or, like you said, insert other stereotype). I have always thought that EVEN IF one is lazy, that person still deserves to eat and be warm.
I figure I can't really understand where a homeless person is coming from, so might as well not judge.

mo said...

i must say thanks...for the past year or so i have been tryin' to explain to my daughter why i no longer watch or read oprah but have never been successful in gettin' her to understand - my fault, not hers. i will now just have her read your words and then say 'ditto'.
mo jackson

wolfmom2ac said...

I totally agree with you. One year my SIL walked by a homeless person (or so we thought) and gave the person some money. We walked back by 10 mins later and the person had used the money to buy booze.
I personally have not watched Oprah for so many years I have given up counting. I agree that she has just way to much money and way too much time on her hands!!

Rhonda said...

I am usually an Oprah fan, but I thought the same exact thing when she made that comment about being 50. She does a lot of wonderful things, but sometimes she seems to be living in a bubble. (Her "roadtrip" with Gayle made it clear that she is totally disconnected from the real world...when she said she hadn't pumped gas in 20 years, I almost lost my lunch.)

Lotta said...

Rhonda - I know what you mean. Oprah has an excellent production staff and you can't deny some of her topics are interesting. Far more so than the "friends with ana" Kelly of Regis and Kelly.

But there are some episodes where the worst of her personality overshadows the topics and I cringe. And blog.

chicaloungin said...


I'm with you on Oprah simply not being able, at this point, to have a grip on the world as it exists without her... which for most of us, it does.

Last year, I sat in several writing and lit classes with a woman whose stuff I just loved... she could write a short story like nobody's business. She worked at the university on some research team, but her talent was in creating Beauty on the page.

After showing up in the same class three terms last year, she "came out" to the class, telling us she had been homeless for years. Telling us: It could happen to you or anyone you know at the drop of the hat.

Confirming for me what I fear most... being a teacher, living paycheck to paycheck, no health bennies... I walk a fine line. So do we all (except Oprah and clearly, her crowd).

Anyway, your posting was right on, dead on, and judging by everyone's comments, I see a niche for the "Non-Blubbering-Blob", a place where amazing deeds could be done without an audience cheering Those with the Dough on.

And shoot, anyone who invites Tom Cruise to sit on their couch these days, is crap in my book.

lildb said...

I never watch Oprah. I don't have any reason why, really, other than that I can't help assuming her philanthropic ways are partially, if not wholly, motivated by something altogether not altruistic. iow, she's doing it for the write-off, and b/c it makes for good tv.

Also, I hate mid-afternoon housefrau tv. barf. I'd much rather bleed my eyes on the prongs of the horrendous mtv than on any of the wifey-poo shit.

lastly, my brother is homeless. he was far more motivated and worky than I was in our teens and twenties (he's the one who has the college degree), yet I sit here in the house I own with my husband, typing away on a nice laptop, and he sits -- ? somewhere in Florida, which is where my dad managed to track him to, in recent years. he's mentally ill, and has chosen to run away and live as he does rather than be forced to take meds and face the demons in his head, and -- I don't really know what. but I do know that a) he's no shirker of work, and b) the closest thing to drugs for him was the occasional glass of red.


Gretchen said...

I've been thinking almost exactly the same thing... Yes, the narcissism has driven me away from Oprah.

Mel said...

WOW, wow, wow! Very insightful and really true.
Good points, all. And if I'd been watching when Oprah did that "feels pretty good to ME!" crap, it would only have reaffirmed my motivation to KEEP THAT AWFUL WOMAN OFF MY TELEVISION.

Lotta said...

Thanks Mel! And thanks for digging around my old posts!