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Phantom of the Oprah

Letters to the Boston editor: February 24, 2006
By EDITORIAL  |  February 23, 2006

Thanks for your brave, spot-on cover story about Oprah Winfrey and her malign power (“Citizen Oprah,” February 10). Oprah is and has always been a complete sham. Generous, charitable people, as Winfrey repeatedly purports herself to be, do not live in $55 million mansions. That’s why those who can actually think for themselves (unlike the folks at CNN, apparently) pay no attention whatsoever to a single fucking thing she says or “endorses.”

Jason Roush

We are appalled by your recent cover art featuring Oprah. By illustrating an influential woman of color as a hyper-sexualized, Kong-esque monster, you have succeeded in making a racist, sexist statement before readers even open your pages. Congratulations. You’ve encouraged us to stop reading the Phoenix and turn on the television.

Ann Crews Melton and Molly Williams
Jamaica Plain

Editors’ note: The cover of our February 10 issue was based on the poster art for the cult classic Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman (1958).

How come no one asks whether Bill Gates (the richest man in the world), Donald Trump, George W. Bush, and other REALLY powerful people in America are “too powerful”? Is it because most of the others are white and male (and some are not famous celebrities), so you feel more comfortable with that? I wonder.

I notice the vehemence with which you commented about Oprah Winfrey’s recent response to and apology for the James Frey controversy. It is obvious that you hate Oprah and the ground she stands on. Why do you resent her power so much? At first when she stood by Frey, almost all of you in the media condemned her for supporting the embattled, lying author. Then when she admitted she had made a mistake, apologized, and took him to task for deceiving her and millions of readers, some of you accused her of bullying him just to protect her brand. As a wise businesswoman, why shouldn’t she?

I think there are some underlying racist and sexist motives for this anti-Oprah campaign. I think some white people — particularly some men who didn’t particularly care for her before anyway — squirmed at the idea of seeing a black woman on TV reprimanding and holding a white man accountable. That shift of power (based on America’s racist history) makes some people incredibly uneasy.

Many of us will tolerate some level of success in others. But if someone surpasses our wildest imagination of achievement and accomplishment, we feel inadequate about ourselves, which results in the proverbial “green envy”. If someone climbs “too high,” we feel the need to tear him/her down to make our sorry selves feel better. They say that is human nature, but one hopes that our spiritual evolvement allows us instead to be happy for others’ success (especially if the person is trying to use his/her success for some good) and to use others’ accomplishments for our own inspiration to be better.

If the media covered the lies told by US politicians and corporate America over the last few years with half of the energy they did with this story, what a wonderful country we would have. There are more critical, life-impacting issues to scrutinize. That’s what really matters — get some perspective!

Andrew Stennett

Critical success
My old friend Gerry Peary incorrectly asserts in his piece “After Janet: Where Are the Women Film Critics?” (February 10) that “For more than 30 years since [Janet Maslin wrote for the Phoenix], no woman has been a staff film critic for a major Boston newspaper! Ouch!”

Ouch, indeed. Peary clearly has forgotten the early ’80s, when Carrie Rickey was the chief film critic for the Boston Herald. His memory lapse is odd seeing that he cites Rickey two paragraphs later as one of “a handful of (current) lead women newspaper critics ...”

Let Boston newspaper history stand corrected.

Larry Katz
Executive Arts Editor
Boston Herald

Next week: Phoenix readers respond to our stand on the Mohammed-cartoon flap.

  • Busted
    The Smoking Gun shoots author James Frey, and bags Oprah and Doubleday in the process
  • O Positive
    Can an Oprah endorsement deliver her fans to the Obama camp?
  • Listing forward
    Sometimes a media critic just wants to herd a few cats
  • More more >
  Topics: Letters , Oprah Winfrey , James Frey , Carrie Rickey ,  More more >
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Phantom of the Oprah
Business Week ranked Oprah as the most generous black in American history after she gave NINE FIGURES of her OWN MONEY to charity. The talk show genre she so brilliantly popularized and revolutionized made gays and transsexuals mainstream according to Yale sociologist Joshua Gamson. I understand that a lot of people are jealous of all her money, power, and fanatical fans but she has made the world a better place. I think she's a marketing genius, a brilliant improvisational entertainer, and a great humanitarian.
By oprahfan on 03/07/2006 at 12:07:26

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