Friday, June 24, 2005

Skewering a Sacred Cow

I'm sorry, but if I arrived at a store and they had closed 15 minutes early, I wouldn't expect to be let in even if there were still people shopping inside.

So, if being shut out of Hermès, really "one of the most humiliating moments of [Oprah's] life," well, that's pretty pathetic. I understand that celebrities get special treatment in life. But the fact that they get obstinant when they don't get special treatment leaves me repulsed.

The person I feel sorry for? The security guard who didn't recognize Her Royal Highness and is being vilified for it. He was just doing his job. Oprah shouldn't expect to be recognized and fawned upon everywhere in the United States, let alone overseas. That's precisely the sort of thing that gives us ('cos I'm a Yank now, too) the reputation as Ugly Americans.

And let's not even try to pretend this was a race issue. The store was closed and they were preparing for a special event. Now, I lived in Pusan, Korea a decade ago and I ran into an African-American military guy in the shopping district. I asked him how he was doing, and he said, "Oh, fine, except I just got kicked out of a store for being black." He was in the store, within store hours, and he was asked to leave. Now, that's racism.

So here's where I tenderly approach blasphemy: It's about time someone pierced Oprah's bloated sense of self-importance. Yes, she does a lot of good (though I could wax really, really cynical about that), and, yes, she's an important figure in our society and a decent role model, but it's been clear for a long time that she lives in her own little Oprah world. She canceled her book club because "It has become harder and harder to find books on a monthly basis that I feel absolutely compelled to share." Like it's possible to run out of books worth reading. Of course, the truth was more likely that she got sick of the whole enterprise, worn out from all that monthly reading, and--let's face it--humiliated by Jonathan Franzen's admittedly insensitive remarks after she selected "The Corrections" to spotlight. (Which clearly was more humiliating than being shut out of Hermès.)

Three words for you Oprah: Get over yourself.

I assume a special place in hell awaits me for criticizing, Her Highness.

(Via Yahoo's The INSIDER Online.)

Update 7/12/05: Diversity Inc disagrees with me, and fair enough. Not sure I buy their reasoning, but I'll happily recant if the store does turn out to have embellished their story. Problem is, I think Oprah's silence speaks volumes. Diversity Inc quotes her friend and I read those quotes, too, and they sound a little sensationalistic. There's nothing to say that people weren't still shopping in there, and that the store was turning away anyone who came late. This I'll say too: since I don't know all the facts, I should be more careful about weighing. After all, that's why I haven't written at all about the Rove/Plame affair: I think there's a lot more to the story and people are viscerally homing in on Rove because he's easy to vilify. Oprah has my apologies in advance if I'm wrong. Rove may habve created a reputation for himself that has lead folks to see him as Machiavellian.

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