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The Big O

by Taylor Berry

Oprah is in Toronto for TIFF this weekend promoting a film called Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, a drama about a young girl pregnant for the second time by her father, with appearances by Lenny Kravitz and Mariah Carey–a total Oprah pick. The film receives promotion from Oprah’s Harpo Productions, and the value of a personal Oprah appearance to promote your film must be huge. This led me to think about the awesome power of O.

Oprah isn’t just a talk show host, or an actress, or even a media mogul–she represents an entire way of life. In fact, the current theme of her website is “Live Your Best Life”. It’s all about health and diet, relationships, style, money and even includes a world news section, heavily filtered for Oprah’s vast audience of housewives. I get the sense that living your best life really means living an Oprah life, where you dress like her, read the books she likes, and make her favourite recipes. Is this all about living like Oprah? Are we supposed to become a bunch of Oprah automatons?

Even stranger is the commercial aspect of the whole thing–take, for example, the Oprah Store online. From bizarre pet accessories (polo rompers for dogs plastered with a big O), to notecards with Oprah quotes to send to friends, the whole thing reeks of a personality cult. She even has her own clothing lines so you can dress in Oprah fashions. Though I will be the first to admit that anyone with eyes can see that the O Baby line is pretty fucking cute.

I’m really not anti-Oprah, so don’t get me wrong. She’s a self-made woman who, despite a really tough life, managed to build herself an empire. There’s just something about the empire that I find kind of terrifying, which leads me to ask–should any one woman yield this much power?

Lucky attendees can witness the spectacle that is Oprah at the gala for Precious.

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