Introduction The camera scans the public; women around the age of 30 and above are looking hopefully to the stage. There, Oprah Winfrey sits crossed-legged on a big yellow sofa. The camera zooms in on her perfect make-up, neatly done hair and perfect white teeth. She tells us the topic of the day and… we will be right back. Commercial break. She was called “arguably the World’s most powerful woman” by Time. om, “arguably the most influential woman in the World” by the American Spectator and she is the only person in the world who appeared five times on the Time 100, an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, as assembled by Time. If we would look at the size of her fanbase and her fortune, we can already say that Oprah Winfrey is not only famous, but a true phenomenon. Some people even speak of Oprahization of Culture. In 2001, the word Oprahization was even listed in the “Top Ten Words Of 2001” on the website YourDictionary.
It was described as following: “Describes the litmus test of political utterances: if it doesn’t play on Oprah, it doesn’t play at all” (Illouz, 2003). But, is her impact on the American culture really so big? What is Oprah’s real influence on people and the media? Television In 1984 Oprah moved from Nashville to Chicago, to host a morning talk show, which became the number one local talk. In 1988 she established Harpo (Oprah backwards) Studios, a production facility in Chicago, making her the third woman in the American entertainment industry (after Mary Pickford and Lucille Ball) to own her own studio. Oprah. com) She started her own show in 1986, the Oprah Winfrey show. The show now being 21 years old, it is the longest-running daytime television talk show in the United States, seen by an estimated 46 million viewers a week in the US and it is broadcast in 134 countries worldwide (Oprah. com). In the show, emotions are pulled and worries are examined. She mixes dialogue, conversation, debate, storytelling and wisdom and connects them with different types of media to reach as many women as possible and confront them at all levels.
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And because more and more American white women become the victim of psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety and anorexia nervosa (two thirds of the adult population of mental health centers, psychiatric hospitals are women), a female role model is needed. And Oprah has come to their rescue. Oprah uses a positive, calming language that tells women they are not alone (D. Cullen, 2007). Also, in nearly every episode of her show, Oprah advertises products for her viewers. At the end of many shows, she gives presents to her audience of who-ever and is sure to thank the creator and display their product.
Oprah has given away many things including cars, homes, flannel pyjamas, icecream and vacations. All became instant successes. Book Club In 1996, Oprah introduced Oprah’s Book Club in her television show. It focused on new and classics books and often brought unknown novels to the attention. Winfrey abandoned the book club for one year in 2002, stating that she could not keep up with the required reading in order to find books that she enjoyed. After its revival in 2003, books were selected on a more limited basis (three or four a year).
In 2004, the Brigham Young University found out that Winfrey’s book club recommendations had a greater influence on book sales than anything else in the history of modern publishing. When Oprah favors any title means at least 500,000 additional sales, that translates to at least an additional $5 million in revenue to the publisher (Lacayo, 2002). The Book Club also gave her show an aura of respectability and changed her status from entertainer to moral entrepreneur. Magazine Oprah publishes two magazines; O at Home and O, the Oprah Magazine. O, The Oprah Magazine is the offspring of The Oprah Winfrey Show.
The magazine includes all the same aspects that the show does. Then it is not strange that the magazine was also the most successful magazine launch in publishing history. O Magazine has an average paid circulation of 2,6 million and 1,5 million subscriptions each month (ABC Statement, 2005). The magazine is also available in a South African edition. In both of Oprah her magazines, many products and vendors are advertised. I have personally counted the amount of advertisements in the O magazine (November 2005 issue): The magazine counts 304 pages. 30 pages are full page advertisements, around 50 of them are two page spread. I did not count the in-text advertisements (for clothing, etc. ). But it is known that the spring 2006 issue of O at Home showcased 71 products in one story. Also, in every issue of O Magazine, Oprah has a shop guide called “The O list”, which reads beneath it, “A few things I think are just great”. This section features an average of 10 items and each accompanied by a “personal” quote from Oprah on why she likes this product and what we can use it for. Conclusion
Oprah is commonly seen as the “Queen of Talk” but as her hand stretches across the magazine, film and literature industry, she is clearly more than just talk-show queen. Oprah Winfrey is the Queen of All Media. Even the biography page on her website Oprah. com states; “Oprah Winfrey has left an indelible mark on the face of television…Her legacy has established her as one of the most important figures in popular culture”. Oprah has touched upon a variety of topics; telling her own secrets, talking about the past and personally illustrating what every woman should do. With this she encourages women to do the same.
Because she talks about recognizable topics and is so honest about herself, her dedicated audiences see her as a life coach, a fellow sufferer and a best friend. It is not strange that many of Oprah’s millions of viewers believe that she has, indeed, changed their lives. The power over the personal lives of her viewers is very real. Oprah simply and truthfully has changes lives. The description of the word Oprahization is true: if it doesn’t play on Oprah, it doesn’t play at all. Everything she touches, becomes golden. Sources ABC Statement, (2005, June 05). Circulation Highlights. rom The Magazine Guys Web site: http://www. themagazineguys. com/oprah D. Cullen, A. (2007). Despair disguised as entertainment: Does Oprah Winfrey sensationalize human suffering in order to fuel her media empire and encourage other media to follow? from http://escholar. salve. edu/cgi/viewcontent. cgi? article=1018&context=pell_theses Illouz, E (2003). Oprah Winfrey and the Glamour of Misery: An Essay on Popular Culture. Columbia University Press. Lacayo, R. (2002, April 15). Oprah Turns the Page. Time, from http://www. time. com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1002228-2,00. html http://www. oprah. com