Oprah Winfrey had her last episode at the end of May and though I wasn’t a regular watcher, I did tune in for this historic episode by a woman that’s had major cultural significance for the last twenty-five years – from becoming the world’s first African-American billionaire (as a woman to boot!) to having a major role in electing the US’s first black President.
There is definitely a lot to like about Oprah (starting schools for disadvantaged women, shining a light on various issues throughout her career including sexual abuse of men, weight & drug issues and so on, the impact of the Oprah book club) and lots to dislike (a heavy focus on consumer culture and celebrity worship to promoting incredibly schlocky books like “The Secret” which basically claims that if you wish hard enough for something it will come true.)
Her final show was an overt display of a unique brand of religious faith that Oprah has (mostly) kept quiet during her show’s run. Her final words were “All glory goes to God” Obviously, I wasn’t a fan of that (especially as she seemed to interpret her success as god choosing her instead of giving credit to coincidence & circumstance, the people around her and her own well-known hard work habits. She claimed that coming from poverty to reach this pinnacle meant it was some sort of destiny but in some ways, perhaps that’s what propelled her to her level of success. And, like evolution, the falsehood of assuming there is only one natural end instead of millions of potential outcomes of which, where Oprah did end up, was just one.)
Anyhow, you can read more of other’s thoughts on the end of Oprah and whether she’s ultimately be seen as a good influence or bad. I think the scales tip towards a good influence overall even for the major blind spots she’s displayed in some pretty significant areas.