Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"Boy, 12, slices off friend's ear"

That's the subject heading of a spam e-mail I received today at work. Here's the body of the e-mail: "Oprah Winfrey announces wedding plans." Wow, whoever that boy was, he must've had a massive crush on the big O.

But he's not alone, of course. The entire nation seems to have a massive crush on the big O, though I doubt the majority of her fans are psychos who would slice a friend's ear off to get the billionaire entrepreneur's attention. Most of her talk-show audience isn't made up of preteen boys either. (Would they tune in to Tyra Banks's talk show instead? Nah, probably not—too much female discourse on fashion, weight, and relationships, and not enough of the former Victoria's Secret/Sports Illustrated supermodel's skin on display. But nowhere near as corrosive to your soul as a typical Jerry Springer episode.) Oprah's fan base consists primarily of women, and lots of 'em.

Last November Oprah came to my hometown—Macon, Georgia—to tape her show's annual installment of "Oprah's Favorite Things." I didn't know what an episode of her favorite things would entail—mountains of money? unlimited power over mankind? sitting around the house naked?—and the audience (4,500 requested tickets, but only 300 were chosen) didn't seem to know what she had in store for them, but once she said the three magic words, the Macon City Auditorium exploded. Middle-aged women lost their damn minds, y'all, and chaos ensued. No blood was shed, but it was touch and go for a few seconds. (A few men were in attendance too, but I assumed they were just there for aesthetic purposes. Or they're gay.) The tears! The high-pitched shrieking! The joyful, spontaneous embracing of thy studio-audience neighbor!

These women were excited, and I can see why—they walked out of the city auditorium that day with a bunch of expensive crap, compliments of their benevolent hero. Plus they were treated to a special holiday-themed performance by singer Josh Groban, accompanied on piano by big-time record producer David Foster, the antihero of everyone's favorite soft-rock-loving Norwegian, Terje Fjelde. But what exactly made Oprah decide to descend from above, i.e. Chicago, to bestow her gifts of space-age refrigerators and stylish watches on her believers in middle Georgia? Well, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's AccessAtlanta Web site:

may have only 235,000 TV households, but Oprah's rationale stems from loyalty. "Macon has the highest ratings for 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' ever since we went national in 1986," Winfrey said in a statement.

That means 45 percent of TVs that are on in Macon any given weekday at 4 p.m. is set to Oprah, compared to a still solid 15 percent in Atlanta on WSB-TV.

In your "solid" face, Atlanta! Most of your residents are too busy sitting in traffic and creating smog at 4:00 to be at home watching TV. That's why you need TVs in your cars. And if you start watching The Oprah Winfrey Show on a regular basis and boosting those Nielsen ratings in your city, maybe she'll buy all of you new cars with dashboard monitors that are automatically programmed to turn on Oprah at 4:00 and drown out whatever music, cell-phone call, or repetitive child you're listening to at the time. But you also have to vote for Obama in November. Twice. Don't argue!

Oprah was the subject of a recent Chicago Reader cover story. Actually, her omnipotent influence was the subject. Is Oprah bigger than Jesus? Yes, but it's better for everyone if I say it rather than her. Otherwise she might end up marrying Yoko Ono, and that's a wedding none of her fans want to hear about via spam e-mail, especially the ones who are prone to slicing their friends' ears off.

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