National Post (Latest Edition) - - ISSUES & IDEAS - Rex Mur­phy

The re­cent Oprah mo­ment in­duces a walk down re­pressed-mem­ory lane. In the early days of Talk TV, of Ger­aldo Rivera, Maury Povich, Sally Jessy Raphael, and of course her cur­rent fame­ship, Oprah, the hun­gry hosts ex­ploited what­ever weird­ness came their way. Of all the tawdry ve­hi­cles, none had the rac­ing force of the sa­tanic abuse frenzy, un­der­writ­ten as it was by the equally fatu­ous fan­tasy of the re­pressed mem­ory syn­drome, a mar­quee item from the Cracker Jack box of pop psy­chother­apy.

The morn­ing/af­ter­noon shows were pulling in mul­ti­ple per­son­al­i­ties by the dozens ( clus­ter book­ing was an ob­vi­ous ne­ces­sity). They stag­gered Amer­ica with sala­cious sagas of Sa­tanic Rit­ual Abuse, in­volv­ing sex­ual mo­lesta­tion of the very young. Then, with the ex­per­tise that only an un­quench­able thirst for rat­ings and heart­less ig­no­rance can con­fer, the hosts “ex­plained” how these ar­cane cru­el­ties gave rise to mul­ti­ple per­son­al­i­ties and re­pressed mem­o­ries.

Oprah show­cased the very Queen of Mul­ti­ples, Michelle Smith, au­thor of Michelle Re­mem­bers (“the true story of a woman, who as a child … was de­liv­ered into the hands of the An­tichrist!”). Smith, who was clearly on her way to self- dec­la­ra­tion as a onewoman, full- vot­ing UN state, claimed an as­ton­ish­ing 92 dis­crete per­son­al­i­ties, all un­cov­ered from the thicket of her un­con­scious through “re­gres­sion hyp­no­sis.” Nat­u­rally Oprah, then des­per­ate for any rocket to take her to or­bit as a full TV celebrity, was there, her em­pa­thy pack on full charge, to give the frac­tured Ms. Smith and her delu­sional or fab­ri­cated fan­tasies full air­ing.

Be­fore long, Oprah was up­mar­ket, the “mul­ti­ples,” so to speak, di­min­ished in num­ber, and more “co­her­ent” guests, Blist celebri­ties, revenants of faded sit­coms, life coach types and “af­firm­ing” au­thors be­gan to lev­i­tate to the most syco­phan­tic cush­ion on Amer­ica’s most fa­mous couch.

Who will for­get — who can? — Suzanne Somers, im­pre­sario of the “thigh- master,” which was to up­per- leg man­age­ment what the lead boot was to sprint­ing. Somers quickly left or­tho­pe­dics of the adi­pose for a higher call­ing — BioI­den­tics.

Ms. Somers had a fea­tured turn on Oprah, and in her mag­a­zine ( O), as the lead pro­po­nent of bioiden­ti­cal hor­mone ther­apy and self- de­clared “anti- ag­ing ex­pert.” As much as Ms. Somers hor­ri­fied some in the med­i­cal com­mu­nity, Oprah the Good rec­og­nized “her truth,” and who’s to say Bio- iden­tics and Somers’ Orig­i­nal Hor­monal Hap­pi­ness aren’t right up there with the dis­cov­ery of in­sulin and the un­wind­ing of the dou­ble he­lix?

Medicine has al­ways been an Oprah spe­cialty — that and of course the new- age, in­ner- child, be­spoke spir­i­tu­al­ism of the West Coast Hol­ly­wood flap­doo­dles. ( Gwyneth Pal­trow’s fas­ci­na­tion with her colon (and yours) and the Gospel of Goop are but sec­ond­hand Oprahisms.)

Her next real shaman — sorry shaper­son — was none other than Bay­watcher and erst­while Jim Car­rey mate Jenny McCarthy, who took full ad­van­tage of the Oprah TV town hall to warn Amer­ica and the world of the dan­gers of vac­ci­na­tion and its in­fal­li­ble “con­nec­tion” to autism. Med­i­cal ad­vice on the cal­i­bre of Jenny McCarthy’s mus­ings is nor­mally (there is a God) very hard to come by. With Oprah’s help it was front of the book­store. And what a boon. Jenny McCarthy or the Mayo Clinic? I know where my money is.

Were there world enough and time I would con­tinue with her great­est med­i­cal dis­cov­ery — Dr. Phil. How Western medicine has strug­gled along since the days of Hip­pocrates and Paracel­sus with­out the at­ten­tions and man­ners of Dr. Phil, nei­ther I nor you can know. But he is here now, sprung like Athena from Zeus’s head, out of dear Oprah’s equally preg­nant cra­nium.

I of­fer these me­an­der­ings just as re­minders of Oprah’s thought and ca­reer, now that she is, as some say, a front- run­ner for the pres­i­dency in 2020. As for that speech, well like a lot of her med­i­cal ad­vice, it was a sham.

The speech, for all the slob­ber­ing praise it re­ceived — as per­for­mance, and per­for­mance only, it had merit — was one gi­ant “You’re all so won­der­ful and brave” aria to the very au­di­ence she should have been cas­ti­gat­ing.

The Golden Globes them­selves are spon­sored by the de­risory Hol­ly­wood For­eign Press As­so­ci­a­tion, the house poo­dle of the film ca­bal’s PR wing. The speech it­self, if it was any­thing, was a civil rights ora­tion, not an in­dict­ment of the cur­rent epi­dem­i­cal sex­ual scan­dal, and poses the ques­tion: How does Rosa Parks’ name earn as­so­ci­a­tion with Har­vey We­in­stein’s and Kevin Spacey’s — “we all knew” — grue­some grab­bings and grop­ings? Did Oprah call any­one out? Did Meryl Streep ovate, again?

Oprah was there as a “big enough name” to call the fo­cus from the par­tic­u­lar per­pe­tra­tors, the Hol­ly­wood set that in­vited her, and needed her. She gave them her hand, and doubt­less they will re­turn the favour if needed. But should she run for pres­i­dent, Amer­i­cans should give some thought to all the quack­ery she gave cur­rency, and her will­ing­ness to oblige any fee­ble, false or fatu­ous thought if it can charm an au­di­ence.

There’s as much Trump in Oprah as there is in Trump. At least ( for now) Don­ald has stayed away from heal­ing.


Oprah Win­frey’s ap­pear­ance and her speech at the Golden Globes last Sun­day has stirred up some of colum­nist Rex Mur­phy’s mem­o­ries of the woman some are now call­ing the front-run­ner for pres­i­dent of the U. S. in 2020.

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