Wednesday, July 27, 2011

America's Religion

From The New York Review of Ideas:
And just how did Oprah become the purveyor of revelation for 48 million U.S. viewers? In Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon, Lofton writes that the Oprah show was born at a ripe moment in American history. In the 1980s when Oprah first aired, Americans started buying self-help and Feng Shui books. By the ‘90s there were self-help sections in Barnes & Noble––it was a New Age marketplace. It was in the mid ‘90s that Winfrey declared her program, “Change Your Life TV.” It transcended its talk-show contemporaries, The Phil Donahue Show and Geraldo, and adopted New Age jargon. “Now our mission…is to use television to transform people’s lives, to make viewers see themselves differently, and to bring happiness and a sense of fulfillment into every home,” Winfrey said in 2001. The products of Harpo have a purpose––to make lives better.

Most importantly is the message of Oprah: the “gospel of you,” writes Lofton. The gospel of you goes like this: Winfrey says she is no different from her fans. From dirt poor, to rich and famous, anyone can do the same. When you’ve discovered this (by listening to Oprah) and become a successful person––inherent within us all––it’s time to spread the message to those who haven’t heard it yet. And, here’s how to get started: treat yourself to great shoes that will inspire you to walk to that job interview. Take out a loan, whatever it takes. Get the job. Become an executive who believes in herself; someone who has agency. Then, tell someone else to do the same, because it feels so good. Does the Bible inspire you to do that? Great. Just don’t let it hold you back. If the word God doesn’t sit right, use Spirit, or Universe. This is Oprah Winfrey’s mission––to help her fans live their “best lives” and to discover their “inner fabulous.” What she preaches is a quest for the best you, as Lofton reiterates in a podcast interview with University of California Press (February 16th, 2011), “The good news is you! You’re amazing.”  (Read entire article.)

Via The Western Confucian. Share

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