The earnestness of being self-important
During those existential lacunae at the supermarket checkout when even the curiously austere Hershey’s chocolate seems appealing for a moment, I find myself both drawn to and repelled by the train-wreck of narcissism that is The Oprah Magazine. Whatever might be on the cover this month, I wonder idly to myself. Oh, look, it’s Oprah again, coiffed to within an inch of her life, practically reaching through the glossy paper to bitch-slap shiny happiness into the world.
There’s a level of hyper-demonstrative earnestness that’s hitherto been reached perhaps only by Ms Winfrey and Tom Cruise since the Scientology handlers unleashed his white teeth. It’s self-obsession utterly without self-reflection, utterly without self-deprecation, utterly without nuance. Five years of The Oprah Magazine, and she puts herself on the cover of every single edition. It’s a fanzine to herself, a mirror mirror on the wall.
Oprah’s Book Club (trademarked, of course) ‘Presents’ Faulkner, wrapped in a black and gold banner which subsumes him into the Oprah brand. ‘Presents’ conveys the conferment of patronage. Not here the addition of a small tasteful sticker to an existing edition to show the attachment of an ephemeral daytime queen of sharing to the weight of literature. Rather, Faulkner must be bound up inside Oprah’s custom box-set cover.
Wikipedia says this about a personality cult:
The leader’s picture appears everywhere, as do statues and other monuments to the leader’s greatness and wisdom. The leader’s slogans and other quotes cover massive billboards, and books containing the leader’s speeches and writings fill up the bookstores and libraries. The level of flattery can reach heights which may appear absurd to outsiders.
And that seems about right.
I don’t have an opinion about Oprah, but I *do* have an opinion about chocolate: “austere” is about the last thing I’d think in relation to it. How can chocolate be anything other than inviting? Unless it’s an inviting sort of austerity?
Whatever do you mean?
Hershey’s is like chocolate during wartime rationing. It has neither the sweet milky goodness of the Cadbury end of things, nor the cocoa hit of the top-end European. It’s just kind of brown and bitter. There’s plenty of good chocolate here, like See’s, but the bog-standard supermarket stuff isn’t a patch on European. Oh, for a bar of Galaxy or a bag of Minstrels!
See, I have mixed views about Oprah. On the one hand, I agree that she’s definitely reached the level of scary personality cult. On the other hand, she has white, middle class women reading Toni Morrison and other great writers. I dunno.
But this line:
“Oh, look, it’s Oprah again, coiffed to within an inch of her life, practically reaching through the glossy paper to bitch-slap shiny happiness into the world.”
is funny as hell.