I was being facetious when I posed the question on Twitter, “What is Oprah even going to talk about with the Kardashians?” When I found out that Oprah would be interviewing the family for Oprah’s Next Chapter, I wasn’t really puzzled. I found it funny is all. As in, wow, these folks really have arrived, haven’t they? Yet, some people are continuing to play the role of “voice of reason,” whining about what has come of Oprah Winfrey and how far she’s fallen from grace. Or better yet, fallen from the idea of her that never truly existed to anyone actually paying attention to Lady O.
Enter Jennifer E. Mabry, who gets today’s “Womp, Womp, Woman” honors after authoring yet another ridiculous diatribe about the OWN network for The Root. According to Mabry, Oprah is desperate for ratings and losing her purpose of her latest venture. I find her complaints pretentious and a bunch of nothing dressed up as a wake up call.
We’re talking about a group of people who have created nothing and have contributed nothing to the betterment of society or mankind.
Oprah Winfrey is a former daytime talk show host. Since when does every single guest have to be saving the world one soundbite at a time? Like, have you not seen Oprah over the years? She was not always sitting in Indian style with Deepak Chopra waxing poetic about the meaning of life and the psychological benefits of blueberries.
According to Winfrey, the purpose of OWN was to “create messages that fill you up and bring you to new levels of awareness about yourself, ourselves, and our world; our potential … “
Has this woman actually watched Keeping up with the Kardashians? Banal as some may find it, it’s not exactly a show promoting societal ills. In their own way, they promote family and a certain type of values. Values that might not fit everyone’s standard, but none of which point to the more vile aspects of society.
So, um, how exactly does a two-hour interview with the Kardashian clan fit into that paradigm?
Anyone who doesn’t seem how the success of Kardashians doesn’t bring about some awareness about where our culture is and is headed isn’t really qualified to write a take down about Oprah’s lack of anything, much less direction and understanding of her own mission.
Oprah herself said on Facebook about her interview today:
Ok my friends I had the longest interviewing session I can ever recall, talking to ALLLLLLLL the Kardashians. I had never met them, nor seen the show. I did a full on Kardashian Kram in preparation, watching major shows from every season. I genuinely wanted to know why they have become a cultural phenomenon? Why do so many people love to watch their every move and why do so many others love to hate them. Are they completely ego centered? Are they really “famous for being famous” or is there something more?
I “GOT IT” … those answers +more. Those of you who watch the show know they hold nothing back. This interview I’d say was another level of forthrightness and honesty. Who surprised me the most? Scott. Lamar and Khloe. Kim.
And as the wonderful writer Rich Juziak wrote about the Kardashians for The Washington Post last year:
All of this may sound outrageous, but the Kardashians are just one clan in a nation of over-sharers. They are a symptom of their time, not a disease, and as such they seem ultimately benign. The most we can give them credit for innovating is further loosening cultural mores.
There. Do you get it now, ma’am?
At this point, Winfrey might as well come out and say she favors the legalization of pornography and prostitution.
Oh, God. This again. I wrote about this fixation on Kim’s sextape a recently for Ebony.com:
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that her first widespread news headline – a sex tape with Ray J – is the source of that branding, but the complaints are unfair and problematic for varying reasons. Most of which revolve around the sexism attached to the sentiment. Frankly, there’s no real basis to make such a harsh declaration, and even if you don’t care about Kim Kardashian per se, there’s still something wrong with allowing rigid ideas of sexuality to stigmatize someone for their entire lives.
Okay, so she taped herself boning Brandy’s brother, but engaging in sexual voyeurism (of any form) doesn’t necessarily make a whore. If you’re some Puritan who thinks otherwise, chances are you suspect a huge chunk of the people around you are tramps. Present company included.
To some, Kim’s sex tape and Playboy spread put her in the same degree as Karrine “Superhead” Steffans. It’s not as if Kim took her E! show and flipped it into Confessions of a Video Vixen in TV form – offering lots of lazy sex tips to audiences. Even if she did, it would be her prerogative to own her sexuality and use it however she chooses to.
Also: This shit is old, B. Not to mention a dumber sentiment than she could ever imagine Kim Kardashian to express.
Oh, and while I have the attention of Kardashian bashers, Rich was alright right in noting:
Without Kim, Ray J probably wouldn’t have gotten his own reality shows on VH1 (“For the Love of Ray J” and “Brandy & Ray J: A Family Business”), but they’re both over now and who remembers the particulars of them, anyway?
Goodness. Thank you.
While I still maintain that many of you need to stop fall back on your needs of instant gratification as it pertain to OWN’s success of failure (which is no less a bad trend as the kind of random fame the Kardashians net), I would at least hope that complaints about strategy be within reason. As in, stop placing Oprah in the box you wrapped for her and judge her on the way she’s always presented herself to be. Also, see beyond your rigid scope of the world and embrace how it is for better or worse how it is. The Kardashians are indeed merely a symptom, not a disease.
As a talk show host who still moonlights as an interviewer, it’s not necessarily Oprah’s job to cure the problem — only to merely dissect it.
Besides, whether anyone likes it or not, when it comes to how to make successful reality programming even with the most lacking of footage, they’ve got the genre down. Now that Oprah has her OWN, it’s she who could learn a thing or two from them.