Tuesday 24 May 2011

Farewell to an Icon

How do we say goodbye to someone who has become so intrinsic to our culture?? For a generation, especially for women, Oprah became a image of success, she was a woman who like us struggled with her weight, she lived her life full tilt, and did it all while without falling to societal pressures of becoming a wife, or a mother.  She showed many that success can come from walking their own path, and how to do it while being unapologetic, for these choices.  She stuck to her guns; talked about what made her tick, what made her curious, and took us along on the journey with her.

Yesterday, I managed to catch the show, including the ending with Rascal Flatts, who sang their song "I Won't Let Go" and I was in tears.  

You see, for me there are many memories of Oprah, her show came on when I was just four years old, and I remember much of her rise and becoming the woman we know today. I remember catching brief glimpses of the show, as I was growing up, and going from sneaking to watch Sally Jessy, to Ricki Lake, and then finally being allowed into the inner sanctum of the women's group and being invited in the afternoon, to tea, and Oprah.  I remember when I was younger, when my mother and her friends, would have their little meetings in the afternoon to watch Oprah and her show, especially after she had become really established, and had some really great shows highlighting many of the things going on in the world.  I remember the book clubs that got launched, at church, in the neighbourhood, and even watching people I would never think of as readers picking up a book simply because Oprah had talked about it on her show.

She has woven herself into the fabric of the American, nay the world's cultural context for many a generation.  It's scary to think she won't be there for the next generation to listen to, talk about, learn from, and yes even make fun of.  Oprah launched many a career, and yes even ruined one in particular (but then again would you really want to be known as the man who lied to Oprah Winfrey O_o).  

Although after those afternoon teas had moved onto other things, and I grew up I didn't really watch Oprah as religiously then, but her show is one of those touchstones of life that we can drift back to depending on what she was talking about and what her season was about.  I know personally there were many episodes I couldn't wait to watch, many episodes I couldn't believed I had watched (like the Bush interview), and yes many episodes that we all made fun of  I mean really Tom,

( Kate must be doing something right to make that man lose his mind); and there are many which will stay with me for a long time (the episode with the men who had been assaulted as children).  Oprah made it ok to talk about something that happened to many people, she made it less 'dirty' and made it something people wanted to confront, all because she spoke about her childhood assaults, and the power of parents who advocate for their children, she owed a lot of her rise and her success to her father, and she spoke on it often.

Many people have made fun of the way her audience reacts, and even how Oprah herself  acts on her "favourite things' episodes; considering there is a whole industry out there about getting on Oprah, even CNBC has a show called the Oprah Effect, discussing what going on her show has done for hundreds of people's careers.  I mean who can forget the "You get a car, You get a car"
She also did something special for the Black community, she made it ok to be successful without being a 'typical' star. She made a lot of people see that just because the ghetto is where you start it isn't where you have to stay. She once said to a guest, that she had earned every penny and she enjoyed spending it because she grew up Black in south, and that really stuck with me.
I'm glad she was on the air for so long, and much like the song says, although we are sad to see her go, we are all just a little better because of her show. 

I wish her all the best (although she really doesn't need it) and I thank her for being an amazing roll model for many young women, and especially to me.  What about ya'll any fun Oprah memories??
Be Blessed

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