Oprah Winfrey is getting such a bashing from popular publications, especially black ones, for interviewing celebrities such as 50 cent, Kim Kardashian, Michael Jackson’s daughter, Rihanna and for admitting her TV network OWN is all about the ratings. Are the criticisms unfair, hypocritical or just?
We all know and love Oprah from the days of the Oprah Winfrey show, that saw some of the world’s most interesting and influential people come under Oprah’s scope. Oprah could get hold of anyone, those going incognito or who previously refused to speak in public. She certainly was and still is a black female icon who represents high standards, morals and maturity.
Many ask why, Oprah who had always condemned rappers for their lack of respect for women, demeaning lyrics and excessive use of the N word, would interview rapper 50 cents who previously had nothing good to say about Oprah himself? Her female guest were usually women considered to be icons or mentors with class and intellect; so why the interview with Kim Kardashian? A woman who became famous off a sex tape and has since made a living on sex appeal alone.
Oprah responded to the criticism on facebook:
I genuinely wanted to know why they have become a cultural phenomenon? Why do so many people love to watch their every move and why do so many others love to hate them. – Are they completely ego centered? Are they really ‘famous for being famous’ or is there something more?
We ask, why it’s fine for the rest of us to give these people the mass fan support that has made them celebrities by buying their merchandise, following their every move on TV and over the internet, splashing them across magazines and idolising their lifestyles, but Oprah on the other hand should know better? Oprah’s interviews, the same as before have often features individuals of high public interest, so it is actually our own interest in these individuals that have brought them to high media attention and to Oprah’s scope.
Another criticism that’s circulating is that Oprah is desperate to keep her TV network OWN going, so much so that she is willing to interview anyone to get those high ratings in. Is it wrong that she want’s her network to be successful? For media channels the ratings are a clear measure of success. It is only normal that the aim is to get ratings as high as possible – without reducing quality. We are behaving as though Oprah should just let her network go down the drain despite the evident need for changes.
What’s symbolic is that since Oprah has made some changes and interviewed celebrities like 50 cent and Kim Kardashian, her rating on OWN have gone up. What does that tell you? Perhaps Oprah is simply being consistent with what we, the general public want to see.
Would you agree that criticisms of Oprah have been unjust or do you think she can do better?
Kim Kardashian’s ‘Oprah’ Confession: Mom Kris Jenner Let Me Have Sex At 14, Hollywood Life, 19 June 2012