What I am about to divulge might be considered blasphemy in some circles. I may be risking life and limb by putting these thoughts on paper. But I am coming clean: I am not a fan of Oprah Winfrey. Ok, that’s putting it mildly. I realize that Oprah has a rather enormous fan base; again, putting it mildly, but I have never quite understood the attraction. And yes, I am fully aware of the fact that should she get wind of this, my writing career could be over before it even begins.
I realize that she has done more to further the cause of literacy than any other human being on the face of the planet. She and her Angel Network have provided millions of dollars to people who, I’m sure, truly deserve her help. (Granted, most of the time it’s staged as a huge nationally televised event, but that’s neither here nor there.) She is enormously successful, incredibly wealthy, and hugely famous. She has earned a list of honors and kudos that include Emmys, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award nomination. She is loved and adored the whole world over. But nobody loves Oprah as much as Oprah and that, in a nutshell, is what I find so very unattractive about her.
I try to avoid her like the plague. But it’s hard to avoid a mega star whose television talk show airs twice a day, whose own face graces the cover of her magazine every single month, and whose name is behind a weekly half-hour radio show broadcasting from a new state-of-the-art XM studio at her very own Harpo Studios in Chicago. Not to mention, she doesn't seem to go anywhere or do anything without a complete camera crew in tow. No good deed goes unnoticed or undocumented.
There is a part of Oprah that wants you to believe that she is just like you. And that is why most of her fans love her. But another part of her makes it perfectly clear that she is not anything like the soccer mom who lives down the street. Oprah Winfrey is powerful and has friends in high places and is the first to tell you about it. She’ll invite experts on her show to give their opinion on issues ranging from parenting to relationships to cosmetic surgery, but is then quick to present her own ideas as if they are fact. Why bother asking the professionals when most of the audience believes everything Oprah has to say anyway. For awhile, her talk show opened with the song, “I’m Every Woman” but she is nothing like the women I know and I know some great women.
I was in the waiting area of my dentist’s office when I reluctantly picked up O Magazine and opened to a story about Oprah and her best friend Gayle. One of Oprah’s favorite things to do is name drop. She has made it abundantly clear that she includes the likes of Julia Roberts and Jennifer Aniston in her close circle of girlfriends. But Gayle is her BFF, always has been, always will be. Of course, since everything Oprah does is magnificent it didn’t surprise me to learn that her friendship with Gayle is something that the average person cannot get their head around. In the article she says, “Other people’s definition of “friend” isn’t what ours is”. Hmm. Even her friendships are different (read: better) than the average woman’s.
I’ll give it to you, she’s got a bigger book club than I do and I certainly wouldn’t put my PTA committee up against her Angel Network, but if Oprah wants to go head to head with me in the girlfriend department, I’m ready. I say bring it on, O. My BFF and I have got everything she and Gayle have and more. Oprah might know more about running a multi-million dollar production company and losing weight than the average person, but she does not have a lock on the friendship market. Even an average Joe Blow like me is capable of having dear friends and deep friendships. I don’t have to tell anybody how phenomenal my best friend is; her kind and gracious spirit speak for themselves. Most women share a deep bond with a special girlfriend and if Oprah really was “every woman” she would know that to be true.
Some day I would like to have a book of my essays published. I’m not stupid; I realize that with Oprah’s blessing, I could make it to the New York Times’ best-seller list overnight. I may just have to eat crow and crawl on her stage begging for forgiveness. In my fantasy, Oprah reluctantly admits that she loves my book, but not before convincing me to omit the essay about her. Because really, in the end, doesn’t Oprah always get what she wants? I’m content knowing that I have one thing that Oprah will never get and that is my priceless friendship with my BFF.