Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Oprah's Ego

For several years now, I have wondered if Oprah's ego is not getting a wee bit out of control.

It started a decade ago, when Oprah began having Phil McGraw, another character not exactly known for his modesty, on her show regularly. Dr. Phil would make sweeping pronouncements regarding a guest's problems and what she (almost invariably she) should do about them, based on a few minutes of listening to her talk. If the guest showed any reluctance to accept the instant diagnosis, Oprah would jump in with a comment like, "Did you hear what he told you? I mean, did you really hear that?" The implication seemed to be that if you didn't agree, you must not have been listening. There was never discussion of the possibility that other interpretations and diagnoses could be made.

This happened about the time that Oprah apparently decided she was some kind of spiritual leader. The show's opener was changed to give more of a Baptist church feel, and the format was modified to include things like the ever-sappy "Remembering Your Spirit" segment. For this reason, I don't think Oprah automatically backed up everything Dr. Phil said because she idolized him. Rather, I suspect she saw him as a peer, another Great One like herself.

Then of course, there is her decision to put herself on the cover of every issue of her magazine. I was just in the grocery store and I saw the latest issue of O magazine (January 2009) on the rack. To my surprise, there were two people on the cover. My first thought was that Oprah had finally deigned to share her cover with someone else, and that perhaps her ego was not as overinflated as I'd thought.

But when I picked up the magazine, I saw that both people were Oprah. On the left is a slim Oprah in a tummy-exposing white workout suit. On the right is a chubbier Oprah in a purple workout suit that displays only some carefully-arranged cleavage. (Oprah's putting some rack on the rack this month. Sorry, couldn't resist.) The headline: "How did I let this happen again?"

That's right: the only person Oprah has shared her magazine cover with... is herself. OK, there is a reason behind it. She's discussing her weight gain and is illustrating it with contrasting images of herself. But still... once, just once, O magazine features two people on the cover and they're still both Oprah?

On the other hand, Oprah declared this summer that she's tired of being on the cover. So there's hope that she has not crossed some kind of ego Rubicon, from which there is no return.

2 comments:

Biff said...

So, you don't think Dr. Phil can bring an end to war, hunger, poverty, crime, cancer and McDonald's just by listening for 35 seconds? You're, like, suggesting it might take him 40 seconds?

Biff

Vivian said...

Ha! I guess it depends on whether or not you belong to the Church of Phil.

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