Thursday, March 01, 2007

Appreciating Oprah

Like a lot of people for a long time I had a rather dim view of Oprah Winfrey, viewing her as a sort of vapid new-agey feel-good person who promoted pop-psychology without much substance. After my wife started watching her fairly regularly my attitude gradually started changing, especially after we got a DVR, which allowed her to sit me down in front of Oprah shows that had especially impressed her. I still can't fathom her enthusiasm for such an empty vessel as Maya Angelou, for example, but I now think she's a remarkably decent and pretty shrewd person who is using her vast influence (which she has earned, especially after taking more control of her show and putting a more personal stamp on it) mosty for good purposes.

What brought on this comment was Oprah's special Monday night on her Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls that she has just opened in South Africa. She has seen a problem and put her money and celebrity and influence where her mouth is. She has used her own money. The school is well-designed, both academically and architecturally. She knows she can't do everything, but she has done something, and the something is well-designed and constructive. Insteadof whining that the government hasn't done enough, she went ahead and did it herself. Whatever her politics -- she must have sympathies but she's shrewdly non-commital, which I think is mostly smart for her purposes, she is a functional libertarian -- take action and take responsibility yourself.

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