Thousands of Oprah Winfrey fans are squirming with excitement as they get ready for her sold-out show in Vancouver at Rogers Arena tomorrow (January 24).
I know because I’m one of them. When the news broke last November that she was coming to Vancouver, I was the only one of my Georgia Straight colleagues who did a happy dance around the office.
Everyone else just looked at me and said, “Seriously?”
Yes, I love Oprah. Not unconditionally, of course. I’ve watched her show sporadically for years, but there are certainly bigger fans out there than me. I don’t love everything about her empire. Some of the shows, for example, are too materialistic for my liking—the ones where the audience goes wild when they all get free iPods and cars or just free mascara, for example. And when I see $900 skirts in O Magazine, I just shake my head.
But I do subscribe to O Magazine, because it hits the right balance between lip gloss and things that really matter, such as the plight of undocumented immigrants in the United States. (Anybody who believes that Oprah just covers celebrities and fluff should give this a read.)
Plus, I like how it includes women of all ages and colours on its pages on a regular basis, not just as token placements. The life advice from Martha Beck is always spot-on, and good for a monthly reminder that yes, things can get better.
And that’s really what I love about Oprah. She never lets up on the idea that things can get better—both for ourselves personally and the world in general. Yet she also acknowledges that it’s not easy when we’re trying to find the time to pay our bills, strengthen our core, and feed our loved ones cruciferous vegetables so nobody gets cancer.
Despite her celebrity and billions of dollars, she’s still relatable as a real person. She knows how hard it is to go through life, and she keeps on kicking. She tells us the stories of other people who keep on kicking. Those stories help us better understand our own struggles. They also change the way we understand others—such as illegal immigrants, for example—and that helps to change the world.
So what if she gives away Pontiacs and lets Tom Cruise jump on her couch? Between our own problems and the really awful things we'd like to right in the world, it can all feel pretty overwhelming. A little levity doesn’t hurt to balance out the serious stuff.
There are very few people who have the reach and power to inspire that Oprah does. There are even fewer who can do it while crossing lines of religion, race, culture, class, and politics. That’s what makes her unique.
Oprah radiates positive energy and hope on TV. How great could that be in person--or at least in the proximity of Rogers Arena? That’s why I’m going to her show. And if she gives me a new Pontiac, so much the better.