Happy New Year! I know we’re already in the middle of January, but it’s good luck to say Happy New Year to friends and family the first time you speak to them in the new year. Just trust me on this. 2018 has started with a roar. We got a foot of snow last week, some of which is still piled into mushy gray hills along the streets and curbs. Trump told Kim Jong-un that his was bigger, no doubt not the first time that he’s made such a claim. And the highlight of last weekend was the Golden Globe Awards.
Known for its lighthearted vibe and atmosphere, the Golden Globes have always been the fun awards show, the awards show where your favorite actor gets tipsy and rambles through his acceptance speech, where pomp and circumstance takes a backseat to cognac and cheesy punch lines. This year, though, was different. On the heels of the #metoo movement, this was the first time that the film and television community came together under public scrutiny, an awards show where we, the viewers, were more interested in watching the fallout than the fanfare. It didn’t take long to realize that we were watching the most politically charged Golden Globes ever. The mood of the room was evident, as almost everyone who hit the stage made some blatant or indirect mention of the effect of the movement on the industry and on our society. People came dressed in all black to show support for the victims of sexual assault and molestation, probably not the best way to show a sign of togetherness at a black-tie affair, you know, being that most people are going to be wearing black anyway. This event was part-peer counseling, part-inspirational speech and part-warning to every man watching that things will be changing in the new year.
This year, the Cecile B. de Mille Award was given to Oprah Winfrey. This award is given to persons who have accomplished “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment”. Well-deserved for Ms. Winfrey, she has indeed offered a lifetime of outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment. It was her acceptance speech, however, that defined the night. It aroused the spirit of the room, drawing nearly everyone to their feet way before its completion.
“Oprah should Run for President in 2020.” “Oprah 2020.” “Our future President Oprah.” This is how my timeline read on Facebook the next morning. Her speech moved folk so that they began envisioning a world where she was the president, and to them this made perfect sense.
One of America’s many maladies is that of this “Cult of Personality” syndrome that has infected our culture. We follow celebrities, we relate to their stories, we purchase their products and, in time, we begin to see them as idols, beacons of hyperreality, an idealized version of life that we wish for and covet. Famous people are far more important in the American vernacular than smart people. Collectively, we have assigned them leadership in our lives. I mean, obviously, they are leaders. You see them on television all the time, right? We begin to value sizzle over substance, and we become willing to accept them in other roles of our lives. I remember my grandmother used to say, “The TV shouldn’t be raising children”. That was her saying 30 years ago. The woman, indeed, had foresight.
Trump’s Presidency is proof of this “Cult of Personality”. He had no experience in governing anything. The man couldn’t even get marriage right. He filed for bankruptcy six times. Nothing in his catalogue would compel anyone to believe he is capable of running the greatest country in the universe, and yet he is our president. A television personality has his hands on the nuclear codes. A man so dim that he uses Twitter like a 14-year-old is in charge of our society. Have you ever saw the movie “Idiocracy”? You should watch it.
I say this to say that Oprah shouldn’t be considered to run for president. She’s really great at just being Oprah. Our president should be learned on how to govern a nation. He or she should spend years in governing, learning every facet of the task well enough to perform their duties to the highest standard. Having a television show doesn’t prepare you for being president. Not even if you had three television shows. Not even if you’ve been in a movie. Now, if Oprah wants to start a career in government, and she chose to say, run for governor of her state, I’d fully support that. Let her govern a state for 4 years, or 8 years, and then step into a bigger role if she so wishes. But we have to stop believing that our famous people are our best just because we see them at their best. The camera adds 10 pounds and about 50 IQ points. If you don’t believe me, you only have to look at our current administration for proof. So please refrain from jumping on the “Oprah for 2020” bandwagon. You gotta relax!