March 2, 2008, - 12:28 pm

Schlussel TV Guide, HOprah Watch Edition: Oprah’s Poor People Minstrel Show

By Debbie Schlussel
What if a well known TV host, say Martha Stewart, had a show in which White people were given $1 million each to engage in various televised competitions to help Black people who were alleged targets of racism? We’d call that a minstrel show. And Stewart’s career would be finito (finita?). But when Oprah does it and instead of race being the divide, indigence is, it’s suddenly okay?
Tonight’s “Oprah’s Big Give” show is disgusting in its minstrel show quality. If Oprah truly wanted to help poor people, she would do it quietly and in private, instead of turning these people into museum exhibits on camera, exploited in an Oprah-eponymous (of course!), publicly broadcast game, the ultimate goal of which is to further expand Oprah’s broadcast TV profits. It reminds me of Warren Beatty’s protests to Madonna, in the documentary “Truth or Dare“:


(Oprah Mag Artwork Courtesy of the Talented David Lunde)

Why do you have to film everything? If it’s not on film, it didn’t happen?

And who judges this “competition,” in which the Roman coliseum features down-on-their-luck Americans instead of men fighting lions? Well, the judges are Malaak Compton-Rock, whose only qualification was that she’s sleeping with comedian Chris Rock and managed to get him to put a ring on her finger (although he’s twice sought a divorce from her). Oh, and there’s Tony Gonzalez, whose claim to fame is that he’s a faux-vegan (who ingests chicken and salmon and milk), poor-quality NFL football player? And “Naked Chef” Jamie Oliver. All three of these cretins should be ashamed of themselves for profiting at the expense and exploitation of poor Americans, using their misfortune for ratings.
But they aren’t. Ms. Compton-Rock announced she’s hosting a viewing party. And I almost forgot–the show is hosted by gay interior decorator Nate Berkus. And he’s quite an expert on altruism. When Oprah did her disgusting Hurricane Katrina exploitation show, Berkus and Oprah “reporter”/HAMAS-lover Lisa Ling famously let a displaced Black man’s dog sleep in the house in which they were staying, but they made the man sleep in the sewage-infested New Orleans Park. Berkus even made sure we knew the man’s dog’s name. Never learned the man’s name, though.
“The View’s” resident airhead/pseudo-conservative Elisabeth Hasselbeck–whose only qualification in life is that she was a bug-eating contestant on another horrid reality show, “Survivor”–sang the “virtues” of this nauseating show:

Everybody, this show is like a reality show, only it’s much better because it helps people and is about good.

Uh, wrong. Although they all stink, this is the worst of the reality shows because it is all about exploiting the unfortunate with the phony visage of altruism to give it the kosher seal of approval. Sickening.
And I’m not the only one who’s disgusted at this vulgar display. USA Today’s liberal TV critic, Robert Bianco, agrees, though he’s far more charitable about Oprah’s motives:

How can earning a spot in heaven compare with a place in prime time?
Anyone old-fashioned enough to believe in keeping acts of righteousness private should give a wide berth to Oprah’s Big Give (ABC, Sunday, 9 ET/PT), Queen for a Day as reinterpreted by the Queen of All Media. An Apprentice-type game that turns charity into a competitive sport, Give will strike you as immensely uplifting or horrifyingly vulgar, or an odd combo of both.
Good works clash with bad behavior, altruism shares space with publicity-masked-as-charity, all wrapped in the familiar reality-genre cliches. And at the stomach-churning center is that old American TV belief that every problem can be solved with a take-home prize, without any consideration for underlying difficulties. . . .
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition treads much of this same maudlin, TV-knows-best territory. But at least that show doesn’t turn the people it’s making over into pawns in a game – a game that inevitably elevates the players’ problems to the level of the people they’re supposed to be helping. . . . For all its new-age trappings, Give is a throwback to a time when the poor were expected to be grateful for whatever they were given.
Seldom has the drive to do good works been as alarmingly, offensively presumptuous. When a homeless woman says she had hoped to be trained for a job, you can’t help thinking she may have had the best idea of what was best for her. Might there not be some widows who don’t want to be surprised with a block party or toy-buying spree, or who don’t like strangers telling their children how to best mourn their father?
There’s no doubt everyone involved means well.

Speak for yourself on that last line, Mr. Biano. There’s no doubt for me because I think it’s quite obvious none of the participants means well–not the judges, not the host, and certainly not the billionairess Executive Producer who shoved her name on it as yet another notch on her superhighway of braggadocio in the conglomerate that is Oprah.
It’s quite obvious there aren’t any good intentions here. This is all about Oprah. I feel sorry for the poor people used like dirty diapers by Queen O. Don’t worry, she won’t be giving them a cut of the profits action.
This show is a disgrace. And so is Oprah.

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7 Responses

HOprah is a piece of work. I would know very little about her as I’m working most every day at that time–except for what I read on and the tabloid covers at the grocery store.
Thanks for pointing out such hypocrisy.

BB on March 2, 2008 at 1:37 pm

Arrgh! Jamie Oliver! Just the mention of his name makes my skin crawl. As a fellow Brit I am deeply disturbed that the once proud British people are now mesmerised and full of admiration for such a narcissistic nerd and nobody.But then TV does tend to turn its viewers into braindead zombies incapable of critical judgement. Even my local supermarket here in Switzerland has a special section selling his deeply unoriginal kitchen utensils and condiments. There is no escape from this twisted personality with an inferiority complex with his name stamped on kitchen knives and curry powders. And guess what? They are indistinguishable from other kitchen knives and curry powders or whatever, except for his brand name. As if there isn’t enough choice on the market. This guy is a greedy money grubber who can’t get enough cash and adulation, whose desire for wealth and fame is bottomless, whose banal voice and geeky face is omnipresent. He is a cynical hypocrite who doesn’t give a toss for the poor and is a member of that elite group of false philanthropists and egomaniacs, made up of such abject and heartless phonies like Bono, Geldof, Sting, Jolie and Clooney. The list is getting longer

johndoe on March 2, 2008 at 1:42 pm

Too bad much of the public is mesmerized by her. No matter what she does she seems to garner more compliments from the zombie audience that watches daytime t.v..

samurai on March 2, 2008 at 3:50 pm

Oprah believes her own press. She has her faithful minions doing everything she says. Now these women are going to let her pick our President?

caitlynn on March 3, 2008 at 2:51 pm

Oprah believes her own press. She has her faithful minions doing everything she says. Now these women are going to let her pick our President?

caitlynn on March 3, 2008 at 3:00 pm

Oprah believes her own press. She has her faithful minions doing everything she says. Now these women are going to let her pick our President?

tita2juju on March 4, 2008 at 2:00 am

Dear Oprah,
We are great, big fans, and we admire you so much! A little bit about us. We got married about two and a half years ago, we have a beautiful daughter, who is now 18 months old, she will be 19 months on the twenty second of this month. My wife is currently pregnant wih our second baby. We just recently found out that we are having a boy!! The reason I am trying to contact you is because I know you help a lot of people who are going through roguh times. I used to have a good job, I always try to work hard, and do the right thing, but unfortunately a couple of months ago I got laid off, and everything seems to be going down hill from there. I am still waiting to be aproved for my unemployment. I am not recieving any help from the what so ever. I have been applying everywhere I can, but I have not had any luck. At this point I do not know what to do. My wife is due to have the baby this coming March, and we are only a month away from losing the house that we are currently living in, and 32 days away from Christmas. I am so stressed out because my wife only works part time right now at two different jobs and we still are not able to make enough money to pay the rent for where we are living and pay our credit card bills. Basically, Oprah, we are having such a hard time. I know it is not just me and my wife, there are millions of other families out there having hard ships too, but the main reason I am asking for help is because of my kids and my wife. Sometimes I think that they deserve better. Usually I can survive any where, but my family is different. Some times families need little angels to give us a push in the right direction. Thats why I am contacting you. You are an angel in disguise. Thank you for the time you took to read my message and thank you so much for helping so many people you are a real angel.

miguel/stacie soza on November 23, 2009 at 3:02 pm

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