What the hell is Oprahification?

Oprahification. Yes. It is a real thing even if your word processor does not count it as a real word. It is a term that was coined by the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ saw what Oprah was doing on TV and realized that Oprah was doing something that for the time no one else was really doing.

She was combining public and private life into a blend on live television. This idea of public confession as a kind of therapeutic process became what the WSJ calls Oprahification. It is an intriguing anecdote in the history of TV, where a talk show host acts almost if they are there with you right in the room, speaking of their struggles to you.

Nowadays, this is something that is being done more and more and is reflected by our culture and the kind of talk shows that are made today. Back during the prime of Oprah Winfrey’s show though, it was a totally new thing to do. It made people care for her deeply; cementing her audience to her because they related strongly to her and felt how much she cared for them. Many pundits, analysts and media experts call this ability of Oprah’s her lasting legacy in television.

This Oprahification can be seen in all sorts of various mediums across media. When you see a politician quiver on the TV, or a news anchor starting to lose face on reporting a tragedy, this kind of emotional confession has become huge in media ever since Oprah.

Oprah’s weight loss journey and confessions of her struggles were huge. Especially in the late 80s when Oprah, a black overweight woman who peaked at 238 pounds, made it in a predominately white dominated industry. Not only a white dominated industry, but one that worshipped the unrealistic idealized body image of the “supermodel” or the bland, milquetoast body and personality America had come to expect from their female TV hosts.

Many people believe because of Oprah Winfrey and this “Oprahification”, other women were plus size were able to break out into shows of their own. A small list of people who could have their success accredited to Oprah’s influence would be Roseanne Barr, Rosie O’Donnell, and Star Jones.

This kind of influence, obviously, had a tremendous impact on how we consume media. One interesting after effect of this kind of Oprahification confessional was that it eventually led to high mainstream visibility of segments of society that had been invisible to the masses. These demographics included people in the gay, bisexual, transsexual and transgender community (the LGBT community for short).

Oprah Winfrey’s influence on media has left a permanent mark, a legacy that is unlikely to go away. Luckily, it is also a legacy that is extremely positive and something most people that have been influenced by it have benefitted from.

Oprahification allows Oprah Winfrey to feel like a family member sitting down for dinner with you. This is her genius as a media broadcaster and talk show host. Her changes to our culture itself through her work are still being felt and rippled throughout both how talk shows are structured and the general influence on the world at large.

 

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