Archive for February 13th, 2012
Nikki Finke over at DeadlineHollywood reported today that Oprah Winfrey — the now and forever Charybdis of Lake Michigan (as she was affectionately known when she was still berthed here in Chicago) — has taken to Twitter to beg people to watch OWN (Oprah’s Weird Noises), the failed cable channel that has just dozens of viewers at any given time.
What’s saddest about this is that Oprah’s so out of touch with reality at this point that the
charybdis woman doesn’t even seem to know how the Nielsen TV ratings work. There’s no “box”, like it’s a flight crash recorder on an airplane or something magical that arrives at a person’s house.
I was only a Nielsen household once in my life, in the late-90s, and back then I was issued a notebook to record by hand (or hoof/flipper, in Oprah’s case) everything watched on every TV in my home. I believe I had to do this for a two week period — and remember a crips, never circulated, absolutely pristine $5 bill was included with the notebook as a thank you for doing this.
Today, I bet the Nielsens work differently and a record is kept digitally somehow. I doubt, however, the company sends people “a box”, since I’d imagine they’d lose a fortune on those who “lost” that box and never returned it.
No one in the media ever seems to write about this, but I can’t do an article on Oprah without noting that he popularity waned the moment she went all-in for Barack Obama in 2008. It was obvious to a great many people that the only reason Oprah did this was because of Obama’s skin color. It’s very similar to how people like Samuel L. Jackson openly talk about supporting Obama because “he is a black man”. Racism is alive and well in this country — but it’s black people who engage in it the most, particularly in the voting booth.
While it’s true that OWN (Oprah’s Weird Noises) was flawed at its premise (an entire network dedicated to weird noises Oprah personally makes, or assigns to friends to make) and occupies a slot so far up the cable dial that most viewers never realize it’s there, I think the biggest reason for her loss of power was the simple fact that her support for Obama collapsed the decades-old charade that Oprah “transcended race”.
Oprah sided with the black man against the white woman in the 2008 primaries — and the mostly white women in her audience took note and have remembered that.
Her magazine sales plummeted. Her ratings nosedived. Then her new endeavor, OWN, bombed no matter how much chili she ate to summon her creative juices for programming content.
Couldn’t happen to a more deserving, racist, power-glutton.
The above video is from the concert Whitney Houston gave in honor of our troops who returned home from liberating Kuwait in 1991, in what’s since been called The Gulf War. Whitney wanted to do something supportive for these heroes, so she worked with HBO on this special — and troops and their families were invited to attend.
Yesterday, I had a few friends over and we watched a marathon of Whitney’s movies (The Bodyguard, Waiting to Exhale, The Preacher’s Wife, and Cinderella (skipping through just Whitney’s parts, as she was the Fairy Godmother and only in two big scenes). My boyfriend Justin has never understood my love for Whitney; he’s a Millennial, so by the time Whitney was on his personal radar, performances like the one above were already in her past and she was mostly known for her antics offstage with Bobby Brown.
It’s funny, but though I was fully aware of the sorry state of her life in later years, the “Whitney” brand for me was always the 1985-1998 Whitney, before the drugs dragged her down into an abyss. On the 80s pop scene, we had the kooky, rainbow-colored Cyndi Lauper…the gyrating, hypersexual, and often blasphemous Madonna…the indomitable force of nature that was Tina Turner…and the classy, fun, and relentlessly positive Whitney Houston.
Though I’m a gold star gay and have never had a girlfriend, and never liked a girl romantically in real life, I think I might have had a crush on Whitney when she first hit the scene. She still epitomizes beauty to me…and her music will always be a touchstone in my life.
Yesterday, while coming to terms with the shock of her passing, I reached out through Facebook to a few people I haven’t talk to in many years…people from grade school who I went to a Whitney concert with in the 80s…and people in high school who went with me to the old Coliseum in Ritchfield for the last time I’d ever see her sing live and in person. These people were all nostalgic too, and remembered Whitney and her brand as they were — not what became of them.
This will most likely be the last post I’ll write about Whitney Houston’s death, specifically, but her music shaped how I see the world and her brand has been such a part of my life I can’t imagine ever not writing about her here and there when it seems appropriate. I have a good friend who loved Michael Jackson, even through his criminal troubles and the bizarre things he did to his life and face…after MJ died, the scandals and weirdness gradually melted away and the original MJ brand reappeared, based solely on his music and what he meant to people before he became so strange (and dangerous, if not just inappropriate, with children).
I hope Whitney Houston’s drug problems and train wreck of later years are forgotten and her music is remembered…that her wholesome, glamorous, and patriotic beginning years are what she’s one day exclusively known for. I’m so grateful she put herself out there and shared her talent with the world…though I’m sad fame and fortune ended up costing her and her family so much this weekend.
Hers ended up being a cautionary tale, so today I’m left hoping and praying the people out there who have fallen victim to drugs and alcohol received this wake-up call…because if this happened to a woman with a whole staff around her, it can happen to anyone who lets substance abuse take over their lives. Maybe this public tragedy will prevent a couple thousand personal ones in lives we’ll never know about.
What else is on your mind today?
What do you think the big story will be this week?