Oprah and The Selling of Dream Fulfillment Technology
Every time I go to the supermarket I see "O" magazine displayed at the checkout stand and every issue of "O" magazine has a photo of Oprah Winfrey on its cover. There is something disturbing about a person who puts herself on the cover of her own magazine month after month. She can do what she wants with it, but we know what Oprah looks like by now and I feel a little embarrassed for her. She could give us inspiring landscape photos or images of other worthy people. Instead, we get a simple complacent message:"Look at me! I'm Oprah. I'm still young, slim and beautiful." Even though she's not.
If it's wisdom that I seek from the pages of "O" magazine, I would as soon discuss life with a REAL funky old black broad than with this promoter of the so-called Ideal Life.
It takes only a brief glimpse at the titles of the articles to make me feel utterly shitty about myself. I'm not losing weight. I'm not making more money. I'm not getting younger. My libido is vanishing. My dreams haven't been fulfilled.
This last item, about dream fulfillment, is an arrow pointing into the center of Oprah's empire. This uber-wealthy celebrity is selling what I call DREAM FULFILLMENT TECHNOLOGY. She has become rich and powerful peddling this stuff and the irony of it is this: there is no such thing as DREAM FULFILLMENT TECHNOLOGY. There are various tools to help us cope better with life's stresses. There are psychotherapy, meditation, exercise, nutrition and a raft of spiritual practices. None of these, however, guarantees that dreams will come true. Only a very few people, lucky or possessing a certain kind of karma, get to live their dreams. The rest of us must accept the lives we have been dealt. Life is sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes a nightmare and occasionally a dream.
The problem with dreams is that one can dream the wrong dream. Watch any episode of "American Idol" to witness inept dreamers. The depth of people's belief in themselves is shockingly at odds with their lack of talent. Dreams are, by their nature, elusive. If people are willing to commit decades of their lives to pursuing a goal, it might be wise to let the process of pursuit become the defining reality. If you do a thing and you love doing it, stay with that love and don't be distracted by some end point called Success. That way, when dreams fail to materialize, the disappointment does not become bitterness. If a dream IS fulfilled, then there must be a new dream, and yet another in an infinite progression of dreams. Such is the stuff of being alive. The world itself is a dream.
Oprah is but one of many thousands of merchants of Fulfillment. They thrive in hard times and these are hard times. I want to go "tut tut" and say "Shame on you for exploiting the frustration and gullibility of your clients."
It seems to me that the big-time sellers of Dream Fulfillment Technology are making a lot more money than their customers. That's why the cover of "O" magazine gives me the creeps.
I realize that Oprah has supported many great causes, given a host of writers their defining break and has represented a general movement towards positive awareness. It's the cult of personality that bothers me. I wouldn't be surprised at the establishment of a Dalai-lama style lineage so that in a thousand years we may be addressing the Fourteenth Oprah as she descends from her hover-carpet to bless the multitudes. I hope that she will be a crotchety old black broad with a whip-sharp tongue and no patience for fools.