Talk of television personality Oprah Winfrey running for president following her speech at the Golden Globes does not surprise me as much as it should. There are two big takeaways for me. One, movements like “Me Too” and “Time’s Up” are exploiting the epidemic of sexual misconduct in Hollywood to try and guilt voters into supporting their candidates. Two, democracy has been reduced to a popularity contest in which name-recognition is a good predictor of electoral success.
Winfrey took a page from the Meryl Streep playbook when she used her platform to condemn the evils of “a culture broken by brutally powerful men” — a strange attempt to shift the blame away from the morally bankrupt and sexually exploitative movie and television industries onto President Donald Trump.
“I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue,” Oprah said. “They’re the women whose names we’ll never know.”
Was Oprah comparing women who trade sexual favors for parts in movies and television shows to her mother cleaning “other people’s houses,” as mentioned earlier in her speech? Is she so ashamed of this honest work that she believes her mother was denigrated on the same level as a rape or sexual assault victim? She put pursuing dreams right up there with feeding children and paying bills. Is she saying that sexual assault is just one more in a series of hurdles on the path to female empowerment? What am I missing here?
Oprah triumphantly concluded that “time is up” for the evil men she had mentioned previously. She said a new day is on the horizon and that “when it dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women.” The problem is men, the solution is women. Plain and simple. Identity politics in its final form. How does it make any moral sense to blame the entire male gender for the violence and immorality of the film industry? I’m aware that she mentioned the participation of “some pretty phenomenal men too” almost as an after thought, but that isn’t the point?
The point she and everyone else in the room fail to grasp is that pitting men against women, and classifying people according to their race and gender is not going to help solve what is fundamentally a moral problem. Men hating themselves for being men won’t fix it. White people hating themselves for being white won’t fix it either.
The idea of the “casting couch” being a place where actresses trade sex for career advancement has been an unspoken secret for decades, dating back to the days of Marilyn Monroe, and even before her. It wasn’t Trump’s fault then, any more than it is now. Nobody present at the Golden Globes, least of all Oprah Winfrey, ever did anything to stop sexual abuse until it benefited them politically.
I wonder if Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, as he stood and clapped along with the rest of his peers, thought about his own presidential aspirations for 2020. Is there any grand stand that could compare with this, the ultimate virtue signalling act?
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When did politics become about saying the right thing and being the right things? Being a woman or not being a woman is entirely a non-issue for me and something that I don’t consider when picking a candidate. I will probably vote for Marta Lucia Ramirez in the upcoming Colombian presidential elections, for example, not because she’s a woman, but because I agree with her policies, and because she has a lifetime of experience in politics.
If the Trump victory in 2016 has changed the the United States presidency forever into a popularity contest for celebrities, it will be disastrous for the nation and the world in ways we can’t even yet imagine.