I think what makes Oprah so popular is she allows us to be human – but rather than feel disenfranchised, she empowers us to be everything we can be – not unlike the God of many different religions. We’ve all been breathing Oprah’s reality, vocabulary, consumer choices and worldview. We’re not been immune to the Gospel of Oprah, but I don’t always think we are really ware of the influence she has on all of us. Oprah, in Lofton’s terms, “ …represents the state of contemporary spirituality: the spirit of consumer goods” (Frykholm). All roads, no matter how spiritual, lead back to buying more stuff. Oprah is both pitchwoman and preacher of this worldview—two roles that are indistinguishable. As Loften puts it Through her careful product recommendations or her selection of particular books for her reading club, “Oprah spiritualizes materiality, saving us from drowning in the seemingly inexhaustible profane sea of commodities and images that assault us virtually 24-7” (Vasquez). Oprah draws together various cultural dimensions and then gives them her personal stamp. She encourages her viewers to do the same, collecting whatever products, ideas or beliefs will suit their ideal existence. Oprah makes her own choices into a spectacle so others can sift more easily through the unrelenting parade of contemporary ideas and products.
Personal transformation is central to the Gospel of Oprah and we have watched her over the years transform over and over again – each time making it ok to be fat, to stand up against corporate America, to live without being married – all suddenly are ok, because Oprah said so. She offers new beginnings to everyone at all times through the proper use of commodities and practices. All personal problems, from a messy closet to an unhappy marriage, can be resolved by the miracle of the right advice by the right experts, consumption of the right products, and what Lofton calls the right psychological and emotional expulsion on Oprah’s show. Oprah is living, breathing GRACE- always ready to forgive, to provide much needed advice, to provide $500 shoes that will simply make you feel better. Oprah tends to look at the surface and make you feel better, but deep down, the problems still exist regardless of being “Princess for a Day”, going on vacation with Oprah, getting a new pair of shoes, new DVD, book or whatever gift she is giving away- she doesn’t provide true salvation.
Artman, Amy Collier. “Kathryn Lofton, Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon”. The Journal of Religion. 92 (2) : 320-321. Web. 13 June 2013.
Frykholm, Amy. “Oprah, by Kathryn Lofton”. Christian Century. 5 Feb 2012. Web. 13 June 2013. http://www.christiancentury.org/reviews/2012-02/oprah-kathryn-lofton
Vásquez, Manuel A. “The Gospel of an Icon: De-provincializing Oprah”. 18 Apr 2011. Web. 13 June 2013. http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/2011/04/18/de-provincializing-oprah/?utm_source=sm&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=if.