Oprah Winfrey – Disarming the Loud and Angry Voices
The large black man sitting on the stage had heard the demeaning reference one too many times. Suddenly and swiftly, he had his large hands around the tattooed neck of the white perpetrator. The large man was choking the scrawny skinhead who had called him a nigger on national television. Instantly the audience, mainly white supremacists and black militants, was at war. Punches were thrown, and chairs were sent flying. In the melee, Geraldo Rivera sustained a broken nose, and the ratings for his talk show soared. This incident, a few years back, helped to propagate the idea of lurid excitement as entertainment. Today’s mass media is in the business of sensationalism. Television and radio have parlayed shock and controversy into popular recreation. Television daytime talk shows have been especially guilty of this type of tabloid entertainment. Thankfully, The Oprah Winfrey Show is not one of them. The Oprah Winfrey Show is an appealing talk show because it has an inspiring host who features topics on the human condition without resorting to sordid sensationalism.
Daytime talk shows have evolved over the years. In the early fifties and sixties, shows like Dinah Shore and Merv Griffin featured celebrities who would sing, dance, and briefly chat with their ever-congenial hosts. Then, in the early seventies, emerged The Phil Donahue Show. It was unique because it was the first talk show to tackle serious issues and outlandish people. Phil Donahue exposed segments of society that could be both shocking and thought provoking. Phil’s show dealt with subjects ranging from cross-dressers to life in Russia. This new talk show format also offered …
…cause her message was both moving and emotional, Congress passed “The Oprah Winfrey Bill” concerning child abuse reporting laws.
In the wake of 9/11, President Bush spoke out against the “loud and angry voices” who use the airwaves to spread hate: “Their bitter words can have consequences.” The President’s words drew more angry voices from the talk show hosts who have been quick to protest their innocence. The Oprah Winfrey Show can stand proud in its conscious and concerted effort to no longer offer a platform for hostility and rancor so prevalent on the airwaves today. Oprah Winfrey, the woman, has wisely opted to disarm the loud and angry voices.
Noglows, Paul. “Ophrah: The Year of Living Dangerously.” Working Woman May 1994: 52+.
Reynolds, Gretchen. “A Year to Remember: Oprah Grows Up.” TV Guide 7 Jan. 1995: 15-20.