I can't avoid Oprah anymore. I don't click with most pop-cultural phenomenons. Though you might find this amazing, I somehow get through life without Dr. Phil, a ShamWow, Lady GaGa, a slap chop, Cesar Millan or a Snuggie. Just call me a clueless Neanderthal, but I just have no need to waste my time or money on such schlock. And for the longest time, I could simply ignore Oprah.
I can't avoid Oprah anymore.
I don't click with most pop-cultural phenomenons. Though you might find this amazing, I somehow get through life without Dr. Phil, a ShamWow, Lady GaGa, a slap chop, Cesar Millan or a Snuggie. Just call me a clueless Neanderthal, but I just have no need to waste my time or money on such schlock.
And for the longest time, I could simply ignore Oprah. That's not easy in terms of her sheer volume: There's the TV show, oprah.com, "O" magazine, Oprah Radio and a book club. Still, it's not as if she speaks to a guy like me. For instance, on her Web site's "inspiration" link, stories include the likes of "Women Who Create Gifts That Give" and "What Giving Means to Oprah." Someone must read these things, but it won't be me - unless as a sentence in hell.
Still, the media has gone Oprah-ballistic because of her announcement on the end of her syndicated talk show in 2011. And two things are driving me crazy, to the point I have to say something.
First, there's the runaway zealousness. Yes, we've long had The Church of Oprah. But it's become over-the-top as never before. Otherwise reputable media outlets (a few still exist) scream headlines like, "What's Chicago without Oprah?"
Um, gee, I dunno. A city rich in history that still is a vibrant economic and cultural force?
But her fans see doom. The following comment, by a 41-year-old woman at a recent show, typifies Oprah-holics: "What's this town going to come to? You think of Chicago, you think of Oprah."
Actually, I think of many other things first when I think of Chicago: the Chicago Fire, the birth of the skyscraper, the Manhattan Project, the 1968 Democratic National Convention, O'Hare Airport, the Chicago Symphony, Second City and the Art Institute.
As far as famous people go, I first think of Al Capone, Walter Payton, Harry Caray, Frank Lloyd Wright, Jesse Jackson, Muddy Waters, John Belushi and the Daley Machine. There's also a sorta famous guy who played for the White Sox, Michael Jordan (I think he played some basketball, too). Oh yeah: there's an ex-resident now at 1600 Pennsylvnia Ave.
Meantime, in all seriousness, I think Oprah leads women astray.
To be sure, besides the car-giveaway gimmicks and Christmas-gift shows, she offers some decent advice. She long ago exited the Jerry Springer route to focus on helping women with important issues.
But here's the thing that does a disservice to women: For more than 20 years she has shacked up (on and off) with the same guy, but hasn't married him.
She has every right to her own lifestyle. But she holds a lot of sway over a lot of women. She tells them to buy a particular book or brownie or whatever, and they do it.
No doubt there are plenty of women who have thought, "You know, Oprah didn't get married. She just lives and sleeps with a guy. I think I'll do the same. To heck with marriage."
That's not good for this country. The disintegration of marriage and family has contributed to a host of social ills.
The no-ring routine works for Oprah because she is childless and financially independent. Yet a great many of her fans are not in that same category. It's treacherous terrain to share a bed with a man and have kids without matrimony.
In that way, Oprah is a lousy example. Her followers deserve better.
Peoria Journal Star columnist Phil Luciano can be reached at (309) 686-3155 or email@example.com.