I remember my first impression of the Reality Television program American Idol. I cringed at the thought, what if, a young Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, or the members of The Clash had been forced to have their talents appraised by the sort of shallow celebrities, supercilious moderators, and gallery of lowest common denominator-giddy cretins attendant to the hype-driven fare.
Yet now, there is serious talk among abjectly unserious people that the next presidential election might pit a billionaire, Reality Television grifter versus a billionaire, Reality Television grifter. All hail, The President of the United States Of Reality Television.
Oprah Winfrey is and has been since her entrance into the US mass media hologram one of the capitalist elite's most effective propagandists. By intention, her New Age snake oil-peddling patter never connects capitalist exploitation as the dominant source of individual suffering. Of course not. Oprah is a US American huckster in the model of Norman Vincent Peale.
She retails in the con job that a paucity of positive thinking -- in essence, personal failings -- is the source of individual angst, alienation, anomie, and suffering in general under the neoliberal order. Yet there is hope, she confides. A positive change in attitude will shift the course of one's destiny. Thereby, she steers her rapt adherents away from the shedding of internalized, capitalist engendered false consciousness, and, on a cultural basis, the paradigmatic shift required to steer humankind away from ecological catastrophe.
It should go without saying that me-first-er Oprah, the obscenely wealthy virgin queen of the neoliberal order, would become a prominent promulgator of me-too myopia and its bourgeoisie feminist refusal to connect capitalist exploitation of any and all aspects of human life imposed by her fellow members of capitalism's criminal class. Wealth inequity and wage and debt slavery are forms of predation. Yet notice this dominant and guiding feature of the mindset, a given since the rise of the Weltanschauung in the Western, Christian imagination: Oprah's breed of Calvinist crusader animus, as a rule, will be incurred when the human genitals can be blamed as a key source of human misery.
Collectively, according to its gospel, we wretches can start the slog back from our exile within the sin-ridden precincts sprawling east of Eden, if only we scour away the denizens of darkness by a devotion to the purifying gospel of positivity. Resultantly, sinners will become doubt-cleansed devotees of a quasi-religious order, a righteous order in which its canticles and catechisms will vanquish all negative thoughts and untoward inclinations. Redemption and rebirth will be bestowed by the cultivation of a right-thinking, true believer aura thereby a variable pentecost of prosperity will descend upon the keepers of the faith. Never question the degradations of capitalism; instead, keep your eye on the prize of careerist success, a given and deserved destiny for the right thinking but a perpetual rebuke to those possessed by the imps of negativity and the demons of carnality.
Oprah preaches a Gospel Of Redemption. Yet, in ways both explicit and implicit, she urges her followers to attempt to adapt to an economic system that is irredeemable.
She retails Horatio Alger bunkum to a soul-sick audience inhabiting a planet taxed to the point of ecological catastrophe. The old verities have ossified. Levels of discontent and despair, mirroring rates of greenhouse emission engendered methane feedback loops, are increasing at exponential rates. Yet Oprah continues shilling reality-veiling palliatives to a populace languishing in depression, drug dependency, and an addiction to manic forms of distraction.
At this point, I request readers bear with me for a moment until I arrive at my point by means of a series of digressive, rhetorical tropes, both anecdotal and collective in form. Recently, on Facebook, I have witnessed, hovering on my newsfeed, a proliferation of recent New York Times pieces addressing seemingly tabloid fodder and 1950s B movie plot lines, bearing headlines such as:
"2 Navy Airmen and an Object That 'Accelerated Like Nothing I've Ever Seen'"
"Glowing auras and 'black money': The Pentagon's mysterious UFO program"
"U.F.O.s: Is This All There Is?"- Advertisement -
When I posted a (humorous) take on the subject on my Facebook page, both the number on of and emotional charged nature of responses to the post was striking, even by the less than decorous to outright bughouse standards of social media.
The post read as follows: