Okay, I get that Oprah is a media icon, with a large slice of every venue ‘media’ has to offer. I really do understand that. And, like many of you, I rolled my eyes in disgust when she stated she was declining to allow Sarah Palin on her show before the election, because she didn’t want her show to be a political outlet.
But, this morning I got an email inviting me to sign a petition “telling” Oprah to have Palin on the show. I’m not going to sign this petition. I’m not even going to link this petition. I’m sure many of you have gotten a similar email anyway.
The reality is, Oprah not allowing Palin onto the show (especially after numerous public appearances with Barack Obama) already speaks volumes, in a way that a sit-down chat between the Barracuda and the “Big O” could not.
I’m quite certain many people view Oprah as exceedingly relevant, culturally. I’m equally sure that Oprah fancies herself something of a kingmaker. Neither, actually, is true. Media would be basically what it is today, whether Oprah was a part of it or not. In general, our culture would be largely unchanged. This is not to diminish Oprah’s achievements: she is one hell of a self-promoter, is indeed very popular (popular enough that I fully expect some vehement disagreements with the bulk of this paragraph, even from RS regulars) and has had a brilliant and inspiring career. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that Oprah is culturally irrelevant — simply that she’s not as important to what happens, to whom, and how, as she and her followers might believe.
I see Oprah’s show much as I view a good zombie movie (except that I enjoy a good zombie movie): basically meaningless, mindless (in some cases, brainless) fun. It serves those who enjoy that sort of thing, but nobody with a brain sees it as a serious source of information.
This brings us back to the Palin situation. It’s Oprah’s show. She can have on her show whomever she likes. Palin’s appearance on Oprah’s show, or lack thereof, is simply not going to impact this election.
The petition is as reactionary as it is unintelligent. It forces relevance onto an irrelevant non-event and gives an illusion of importance to something that isn’t. Palin not being on Oprah, I think, will prove far more useful. Or, at least, less useless.