Friday, January 27, 2006

Shut up Oprah.

"I feel duped," she said Thursday on her syndicated talk show. "But more importantly, I feel that you betrayed millions of readers."

Those were her words to author James Frey regarding his embellished "memoir" A Million Little Pieces. As an individual, Oprah has done admirable things. I applaud her accomplishments as an individual of humble beginnings, as a child abuse survivor and as a black woman. However, it's no secret that I find the deification of Oprah to be out of hand. For quite some time, I felt somewhat guilty about holding her accountable for the way others treated her, but the whole "Oprah Christ" tone never sat right with me. Recent events have convinced me that Ms. Winfrey has bought into her own overrated hype.

Nearly two weeks ago, at the onset of the embellishment debacle, Oprah got on the horn with Larry King to defend Frey's actions and reputation. She opined that the book held an "emotional truth" and the fact that he overcame his addiction was as important as any facts. So why the flip flop? Because of the scathing criticism by the Church of Oprah. They became infuriated that their god had led them astray. They were pissed that she decreed that they spend $24.95 (or whatever the hell folks are spending on books these days) on a book that she gave her stamp of approval.

So what was her reaction? She did what any god would do: swooped down on the offender with great vengeance. To her credit, she admitted that she made a mistake, however, there was still a prevailing air of buck passing. Her first defense was to arrogantly stand behind HER book. When that backfired, then she went with Plan B. I find confronting the author understandable. However, she also condemed his publisher. I'm not even in "the industry" and I know that they don't fact check memoirs any more than Oprah did. Just as she expected them to research it so they could "categorize" it properly, SHE should have damn well done the same because she played a key figure in the book being bought by millions. Mama always told me to make DOUBLE sure before you put your name on something.

Let's use a degree of common sense. A memoir is nothing more than a final draft of a "big fish" story. Since it's on print, the fish can't get any bigger, but the author made it as big as possible without making it unbelieveable. And this is expected. It's so expected that, when an author is candid regarding his or her flaws, critics and readers alike are usually amazed by the "honesty." Because everyone knows that there are some lying mofos in this world.

The fact is, Oprah's issue has NOTHING to do with the factuality, or lack thereof, if Frey's book. It has to do with someone causing a rift between her and her followers. A little side factoid listed in the article mentioned that Oprah pulled an invite to a particular author because he wasn't sucking her dick in gratitude for her endorsement. Are you kidding me? I applaud the author that writes a book from their heart and soul rather than out of some desire to be Oprah's bitch of the moment.

To you Oprah-ites: let this be a lesson in what happens when you let other humans think FOR you. Familiarize yourself with the library. They still make those things, you know. You can read as many books as you want and all it will cost is your time. Not too much duping and betrayal in a free book homie.


Xtine said...

I agree with you and Oprah's god complex.

Amadeo said...

Damn Oprah...I say read Star Wars novels...and the somebody give me a show and I'll take a bat to the knees of the first person trying to jump on my couch.

Bint Alshamsa said...

Okay, let me be the shit-stirrer on this one. I was actually glad that Oprah got on Larry King and defended that book but it isn't because I care about the author or her--I stopped digging Oprah back when she started criticizing people for whipping their bad-assed kids. I think that Oprah had an obligation to defend the book because of the role that she played in its downfall and the resulting reaction from a certain segment of those who read it.

The book really encouraged some folks to give their recovery from drugs another try. Now, I'm of the belief that if there is anything that makes somebody stop smoking, snorting, or injecting away their kid's lunch money every week, then it can't be that bad even if it's fiction. However, if it's labeled fiction, it just isn't likely to resonate with readers in the same way as it would if it gets the non-fiction label. And what books qualify as non-fiction anyway? Show me anybody who has written a memoir and I can guarantee that we'll find their ass was lying about some shit in their book.

So, for the sake of whatever addicts who were inspired to seek recovery by this book, I think Oprah owed it to us all to help them continue to find meaning in it. However, all of this shit could have been avoided if she or the editors whose job it really was had done their homework in the first place. Why is it nobody wants to do their damned job these days? Oprah should have at least strapped Frey's ass to a polygraph machine like Maury does before he gives 'em publicity. With all of the cars and houses she's given to her bootlickers and fan boys in the past, I'm pretty sure her show's budget could cover the cost of that shit.

Bint Alshamsa said...

Oh yeah, if you're really looking for a good book, screw Oprah. Check out:

Voices From Slavery: 100 Authentic Slave Narratives

It's the best book I read last year.

Breez said...

I see your point, but think of this: When we had to do all those stupid "Person that means most to me", "My strongest memory" essays when we were in school, our teachers didn't run behind us and fact check. Particularly if the story is plausible. I don't even fault Oprah for recommending the book. If she stuck with any opinion, positive or negative, I think I could almost respect that. But two things: 1) I'm not an Oprah fan, so I was going to clown her no matter what; and 2) she took her anger and embarrassment with HERSELF and projected it onto her. She chose to defend the book, not out of any obligation to him, but because she didn't want one of her holy writings to be questioned. If she was going to catch feelings, she should have thought before she opened her face.

Breez said...

And this is why we have been homies for all these years. I was eyeballing that book the other day.

Bint Alshamsa said...

You'll love the Slave Narratives book. If you've read a few books like this, you may have noticed that some of the same narratives appear in different books. Well, this book used accounts that weren't previously published so it really added to the "complete picture" I want to eventually have when it comes to that whole era.

If your big head was still here in the Dirty Dirty I could just give you my copy but since you left me here by myself YOU GET NADA.

By the way, why don't you give me a call. As usual I don't know where in the hell I put your number.