When I hear someone’s name mentioned as a possible candidate for President, I pay attention for obvious reasons. However, when that person is a product of our celebrity-crazed culture who gave a speech at an over-produced and glorified awards function, my attention is roused.
After hearing all the buzz and excitement about Ms. Winfrey’s speech at the Golden Globe Awards, I found it on the Internet and read it. I also listened to her deliver it. Stirring? Yes, Passionate? Yes. Presidential? No. I write this because, in my mind, the acceptance speech offered little that is new. What Ms. Winfrey gave is no different than what can be found in the writing of such women and men as Alice Walker, Tillie Olsen, William Bradford Huie, Gloria Naylor, Ernest Gaines, Zora Neale Hurston, Dr. King, Jr. and many more. (Read the short story Everyday Use by Alice Walker, for an example.)
However, my main objection is not with the speech of Ms. Winfrey or her strong personality or popularity, but with the public’s reaction to all of it. Are we such a base society that we are willing to not only accept but glorify the ordinary, the what is already known, or even the mundane? Of course, the professional in Ms. Winfrey delivered a strong and timely speech, but what of its substance? The media often used one quotation from the speech, “So I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon!” Strong words delivered well? Absolutely. But we knew, or should have known all of that, if we had been following current events. Many women who joined the #Me-Too movement and men who supported it, had given notice that the “good old days of abuse” were gone. Of course, but are those words and their repeated sentiment worthy of being Presidential?
I like the speech and its allusions to Ms. Winfrey’s experiences as a child, adult, and actress. I admire the following poetic words she strongly shared, ‘In my career, what I’ve always tried my best to do, whether on television or through film, is to say something about how men and women really behave, to say how we experience shame, how we love and how we rage, how we fail, how we retreat, persevere, and how we overcome.” I applaud the references to Recy Taylor and Rosa Parks and the importance of these two women. I like that she gives some men credit for being in the battle. Ms. Winfrey is powerful, and I like that. I understand, but don’t agree with, the craze over her speech; but I must draw the line on it making Ms. Winfrey Presidential.