May 25, 2011

The Power of O

"Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody's going to know whether you did it or not." ~ Oprah Winfrey.

This is one of my favourite quotes and one that has guided some of my own personal actions in the past. And I think it captures the essence of the Oprah Winfrey Show. 

Today marks the final show of the daytime talk show that has graced living rooms around the world for 25 years. The final episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show will air today undoubtedly with many tears shed both on screen and in those living rooms. While I won't shed tears (unless of course the show is emotional and then I will because I cry at those types things... I once cried over a bladder control commercial, but alas that's a story for another day), I will tune in one final time to watch history in the making.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I watch (or should I say watched?) Oprah. I'm far from an 'ultimate viewer', not watching religiously nor owning the 20 Years DVD collection, though I have followed her show semi-regularly over the years- more so since the introduction of time-shifting. And I must admit, I'm a little melancholy that the end is now here.

A drive-by the Harpo Studios in Chicago last summer.
Love her or not, there's no denying the power of O. There's a reason she's repeatedly topped Forbes most influential celebrity list. In 25 years, Oprah has tackled some of the most controversial subjects, shone light on the darkest secrets inside America's homes, fostered a love of reading, buoyed up those who needed it most, and instilled the belief that everyone is worthy of achieving their dreams.

Through her shows on abuse and sharing her own childhood abuse story, she gave many others the courage to speak up about their own pasts and present situations. She was one of the first few who dared to discuss AIDS and LGBT lifestyles on television and continued to do so throughout the years, giving a voice and strength to those who feared coming out and who endured the slight of society because they were different. Her Angel Network gave back to those who gave to others. She built a school in Africa for girls who otherwise would have not had the luxury of an education in their country. Through her own personal weight loss (and gain) journey, Oprah inspired women and men to get up, get moving and make a change to a better life. And whether you rushed out to pick up her most recent book club selection or avoided it like the plague, Oprah's book club got people around the world not only reading, but also talking about what they read. And of course, with Dr. Oz's help, the world came to know that healthy poop should be S-shaped.

Even if she had helped only one person with her shows, she made a difference. The reality is she helped millions. Oprah earned the trust of her viewers the world over. People believe what she says, tune in to hear her thoughts every single day and act upon her suggestions. I believe she is a genuine person who endeavours to do good and make a positive change in the world through the gifts God has given her.

The end of her show this afternoon will leave a void in daytime television and in our culture. There are few people in television history that can say the same. There are few that have had the power of O.

No comments: