Plus or minus two decades later I published an article on Oprah's Book Club in an academic journal called Critical Studies in Media Communication and, later, a chapter on the same subject in my book, The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture from Consumerism to Control (Columbia University Press, 2009).
Because I've been ensconced in Oprah for so long, both personally and professionally, it's difficult for me to understand why people refuse to take her seriously. I suspect a lot of it has to do with offhanded impressions about the The Oprah Winfrey Show, television talk shows in general, or indeed Oprah herself. Honestly, I don't have much tolerance for critics who disparage or dismiss the Oprah phenomenon without studying it intensively, in all of its complexity and over the long-term. I don't embrace all-things-Oprah by any means, yet it seems pretty clear to me that she's transformed and even enriched U.S. culture in countless ways.
I'm excited, therefore, to see this week's edition of the media blog In Medias Res devoted to the theme of Oprah. Here's the lineup:
- Monday: "Stories of O: Oprah's Culture Industries" by Kimberly Springer
- Tuesday: "Too Big to Fail" by Janice Peck
- Wednesday: "For the Sake of the Children" by John Howard
- Thursday: "I've Been Rich and I've Been Poor: The Economics of Oprah" by Vanessa Jackson
- Friday: "Oprah's Got Beef?: Alleged Matriarchies and Masculinist Rhymes" by Kimberly Springer
You can expect to see me leaving comments on IMR throughout the week, since, clearly, this is a topic that's been with me for a good long while. I'd encourage you to chime in, too. In the meantime, enjoy the Letterman-Oprah-Leno ad from last night's Superbowl.