Okay, maybe. We’ll see.
I’ve been mulling over a lengthy response to the “Why didn’t Oprah take Bush’s ass to the woodshed instead?” argument I’ve seen several people make, including Lillet and, indirectly, A-Meg–both of whom I respect tremendously, even though I disagree wildly on this point. I’ve hesitated, though, because I know I have a completely irrational love for Oprah, and many making that argument have a completely irrational hate-on for her, so it’s like fighting about whether somebody’s pretty or not. The bottom line is, the woman did her job well–and whether you can stomach that depends on what you think of her and her job.
It’s not that I don’t buy the argument that she was “just protecting her brand”–it’s that I think that was absolutely the appropriate thing for her to do. Endorsing Frey was a misstep that damaged her credibility, on which she stakes her kabillion-dollar brand. She knocked herself out to redress that error, and did it pretty spectacularly, and I don’t think she owes anybody more than that. (As far as what she owes Frey’s psyche, I can see A-Meg’s point, but since I’ve developed an irrational hate-on for him along the way, I just don’t care. He can cry into the big fucking bags of money he’s earned from all this. Besides which, Trey has a theory on that.)
It’s not as if the woman’s my personal friend–but she’s built an empire on the perception that she could be, and I think that makes her a fucking genius, as well as thinking she should totally call me and we’ll paint our toenails and play with the dogs, and I’ll be like, “Honey, what are you even thinking with the Maya Angelou worship? I mean, you don’t really–?” and she’ll be all, “I’m fucking Oprah. Shut up, you,” and then we’ll eat an entire large spinach stuffed pizza and hate ourselves for it, and then remind ourselves that we shouldn’t hate ourselves, and eating is not a moral issue, but we’ll hate ourselves anyway, and then hate ourselves more for hating ourselves when we know we shouldn’t, and then she’ll tell everybody to buy my novel. Only, she shouldn’t call soon, ’cause I’m not done with the novel yet.
Anyway, I’d put the Oprah brand in a category with Dove and JanSport (see below)–they want to sell me something just like everybody else, but they’re doing it in a way I find appealing, so more power to ‘em. I gotta buy somebody’s product. And since her job is to sell herself, my main objection to the “Why isn’t she laying into Bush?” line of reasoning is: it ain’t her job. It ain’t anywhere near her job.
But I saw the counterargument to that: “But she has a mouthpiece! Maybe the best one in the world! She’s obligated to do something!” And I didn’t really know what to say to that, so I said nothing. Fortunately, Jon Stewart solved that problem for me so fucking brilliantly. It’s not just that it ain’t her job, it’s that it is so clearly someone else’s job. The mainstream news outlets were all over this story for the same reason a guy who hates his boss goes home and kicks his dog–they don’t have the balls to risk directing their outrage where it really belongs. Frey gave them an opportunity to cry “Deceiving the public is wrong!” for days on end, without having to face consequences from the liars who matter. (So yes, in a sense, I even agree with those saying Frey’s been unfairly scapegoated. Again, I just don’t care.) As Stewart illustrates perfectly, the idea that Oprah ought to be put in charge of administering Bush’s overdue ass-kicking should seem utterly absurd but, sadly, does not at the moment. And that doesn’t actually point to a problem with Oprah.
So that’s my last word, I think. I might pick up on Trey’s other brill points about honesty and the novel eventually, but I’ll leave Frey out of it. As of 2:12 p.m., central time, January 31, 2006, I am over it.