O, for crying out loud ...

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O, for crying out loud ...
Wednesday 26 April 2000

We've had Ita and Martha and Ivana. And now we have Oprah. American television's queen diva last week launched her very own publication called, in case anyone was thick enough to miss the connection, O: The Oprah Magazine. At 318 pages strong and with a warmly emotive Oprah on the cover, it was a sell-out in most places by the weekend. Enough already.

A flip through Oprah magazine will fill your head with more sanctimonious twaddle than even the reporting of the Elian Gonzalez debacle could muster. In the poor little Cuban boy's case, we've had to listen to a lot of breast-thumping about freedom and democracy and what a better life it will be for Elian if he stays in Miami and grows up to be a dishwasher.

In Oprah's case, we have a lavish, glossy publication with the woman herself smiling warmly on the cover plus 13 other upbeat photographs of her inside - 20 if you count the flurry of subscription cards that fall out when you open the magazine.

"Live your best life!" commands the cover line. Start right here, right now. Inside, we have sections such as Everyday Inspiration, Simple Wisdom, The Working Spirit, Use Your Life, Reflections and Dream Big.

We are told that This Month's Mission is to tap your personal courage. Practise saying no without feeling guilty is one recommended exercise. Ask yourself: what was I created to do? Write the answer in your courage journal.

In Make Your Dreams Come True, we are shown 27 ways to create our own ritual of reverence, harmony and sharing. In Soul Story we are told to honor our inner voice. In Something to Think About we ponder, "Am I satisfied with the life I'm living?" What's my heart's deepest desire? (page supplied to write down lucid thoughts).

Oprah suggests that if we have one day a month free, perhaps we might like to start a monthly club for kids at risk. She tells us that the best way to reacquaint ourselves with life's simple pleasures is with the scent of lilacs, the sight of the sun rising and setting, the taste of fresh-baked bread.

She kindly provides us with portable inspirations - pull-out cards of Oprah's favourite sayings we can carry with us to the supermarket, for soothing benefit when the check-out line is 30 people long and the child in the cart in front of you has just upended a jar of honey over your brand new Royal sneakers.

Just in case we miss the point, singer-actress Jewel shares her soul with us. We can treat ourselves to petals and poetry from writer Alice Walker. New Age therapist Marianne Williamson writes that it takes courage to show up for life when life seems not to have shown up for you. Oh, and we learn Five Fabulous Things to Do with Strawberries.

This is not a parody. This is Oprah's world, so wise, so caring, so exhausting. It makes you yearn for Martha Stewart and the simple pleasures of making Peter Rabbit's garden out of marzipan.

Of course, one should not look too kindly on Martha, whose phenomenal success with her own Martha Stewart Living has spawned Oprah and other wanna-bes.

Just a couple of weeks ago, we saw the launch of Real Simple (life/home/body/soul), which was pitched as the anti-Martha - a magazine that was supposed to show us how to do things beautifully and simply - as opposed to Martha's love of the complicated and time-consuming.

Full of pictures of flowers thrown artlessly in vases and gumboots splashing through the rain, Real Simple imparts advice as a good night's sleep is the best beauty treatment and the first rule you should establish is: one towel and one washcloth per person a week. I'm sure Martha is quaking in her gumboots.

But Oprah is different. This woman wields tremendous power. She already tells American women what to read and what to think. Her magazine is a way of extending her reach to women who are momentarily away from the television set. You can take Oprah with you on the train and never be far from her oracle-like wisdom. Like the Godhead, she smiles benevolently down at you from newsstands, all-embracing. (She's going to be on the cover of every issue, so there's no escaping her.)

Pardon me while I stick two fingers down my throat. I find the assumption of Oprah and her editorial cronies that I need her particular kind of spiritual redemption sickening. That I'll be a better person if I walk around with a Maya Angelou poem in my pocket or count my blessings and write them in my gratitude journal.

At least Martha doesn't pretend to be anything but a stickler for an organised sewing basket.

Oprah's new magazine makes me want to rush to the stereo and put on Marilyn Manson really loud, take up cigarette smoking and go outside and kick a homeless person.

What I'm going to do right now is curl up with my new favorite homemaker magazine, Nest. In it, I can find truly inspirational photographs of the way people decorate their trailer homes and a story on the Blake family, of Manhattan, who covered the walls of their Upper West Side apartment with panels of gingerbread. That's real life for me.


I strongly resisted posting this but...err...well, what can I say - it's Oprah. Meanwhile I'm outa here - gotta go 'n strike a blow out in the real world of perfidy and sundry colonials...

Regards from OZ - 'Did I actually read this?

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), April 25, 2000


Isn't it marvy to be a cynic?

-- (nemesis@awol.com), April 25, 2000.

I thought the article humorous, Pieter.

"Real Simple" sounds like a mag on which I could actually spend money. I always ran a pretty tight ship with my kids. Here's YOUR towel, YOUR drinking glass, YOUR plate, YOUR bowl, etc. If they get dirty and it bothers you, WASH them. Anyone with kids knows that, if they have more than one towel, they shower and leave it on the floor to mildew. If they have more than one glass, they drink and leave the glass on the counter for someone ELSE to wash.

-- Anita (Anita_S3@hotmail.com), April 25, 2000.

The following cracked me up first time around;

"Oprah's new magazine makes me want to rush to the stereo and put on Marilyn Manson really loud, take up cigarette smoking and go outside and kick a homeless person."

I must have a twisted sense of the humour - it cracked me up again just now...:o)...some people write a good line I reckon.


-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), April 25, 2000.

Good find Pieter. Just reading about her magazine made me slightly nauseous.

-- Uncle Deedah (unkeed@yahoo.com), April 25, 2000.

Pieter, You are not the only one with a warped sense of humour. ROLTFL! Maybe it's something to do with the climate down here?

-- Kerry Maszkowski (masz@southcom.com.au), April 25, 2000.

Yikes!! How much farther down the road is the offering from that other sow, Rosie O'Donnell? Is it now a prerequisite that you have to be fat, phony and annoying to possess the proper credentials for dispensing advice on how to properly place your zircon-encrusted, digital Oyster forks on the Solarium table? (BTW, for the folks who live in homes with wheels, a solarium is a room with a whole shitload of windows in it.)

Jimmy (who, rather than kick a homeless person, is about to kick the TV out the front door!)

-- Jimmy Splinters (inthe@dark.com), April 26, 2000.

Just as an update, I purchased a copy of REAL SIMPLE today. It's the premier issue, and was sending "Buy ME" messages while I waited at the grocery checkout line. I saw Martha Stuart's rag there as well, but no sign of Oprah's. The price was $2.95, but you can receive 10 issues for $19.95 if you subscribe. [Seems to me that $3.00 and $20.00 would have made things simpler.]

The fashion ads show simple outfits. The models are beautiful, but wear no jewelry, nor an overabundance of makeup. The hairstyles are simple, easy to manage and look at. The recipes are simple one-dish recipes for two [They kept it simpler than I in this regard.]

It's obviously geared toward career women who want to make outside- work life as simple as possible.

-- Anita (Anita_S3@hotmail.com), April 28, 2000.

And SENDING "BUY ME" messages? Were those the subliminal type? (sure hope i spelled it right) :)

Anita, I'm just wondering because it seems to me EVERYTIME i go into a store, I encounter the same thing.?

BTW, thanks, sounds like a cool mag.

-- consumer (shh@aol.com), April 28, 2000.

A friend of mine recently went out the back door of his business to dump a big, full trash can. It was early Saturday morning. On the way to the dumpster he encountered a big box, to which he gave a swift kick towards the dumpster. He was surprised to hear OWOWOWOWOW! Inside the box was a homeless person who had been sleeping until so rudely awakened. My friend was really surprised, and offered the poor guy the leftovers from Breakfast.

-- Box Kicker (boxkicker@homelessness.sucks), April 28, 2000.

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