Last week, Oprah taped the finale of her talk show. “Thank you is not enough, but thank you,” she told 13,000 onlookers. “For your love and your support, thank you.” The show has run for twenty-five years, and changed the face of daytime television forever more.
Here’s a secret: I’m a man that loves Oprah. I’m not alone. Although her target demographic is undoubtedly female, men love Oprah as well. And what’s not to love? She’s a vibrant and completely unique force of nature. Winfrey doesn’t show any signs of slowing, however, having successfully launched her cable network: OWN, and officially confirming that she seeks to star on Broadway in the coming years.
Undoubtedly, however, it seems the Winfrey legacy most strongly resides in the show she has hosted for twenty-five years. It’s a diverse and complex one. Among the celebrity interviews, the scandalous moments, and laborious nods to makeovers and fashion, Winfrey has delivered more than her fair share of journalistic, hard-hitting moments. The ones I most admire her for are when she’s tackled the environment head on.
It’s the job of popular identities such as Winfrey to attempt to break down the complicated science behind such urgent matters as climate change and communicate them for the viewer at home. We all know how freakishly wrong this process usually goes, with facts becoming tainted by bias and unwarranted opinion. While Winfrey has declared herself as a ‘journalist’ on her show, she has often been more objective and genuine in her investigation than a lot of mainstream media.
Through the years, she’s paid homage to a variety of green topics, particularly on Earth Day. Al Gore is a regular guest. Her magazine features many discussions on environmental affairs. Her reveal of a floating garbage heap twice the size of Texas in the Pacific Ocean caused headlines two years ago. She has undoubtedly paid her dues to Mother Earth which she has occasionally been accused of wanting to take over.
Of course, one could argue that the millionaire’s use of private planes, and the tons of industrial waste produced by her empire far outweigh the good message she spreads. A valid point and one that Oprah has yet to answer to directly. (Perhaps some carbon offsets are in order.)
Oprah regularly uses her magazine or outrageously popular ‘Favorite Things’ shows to promote green products. More than once she has identified fantastic bamboo products! Regardless of her flaws, it’s obvious Ms. Winfrey means very well. And so, I join with the legion of fans around the world in returning her offer of thanks. With cultural leaders such as her, I think we are bound for a better world.