Thursday, June 2, 2011

Eva Illouz - Oprah Winfrey - summary - 2

part 1 - 2
The self help ethos which according to Illouz in "Oprah Winfrey and the Glamour of Misery" characterizes Oprah's show has been widely adopted by women synthesizes two main contradicting cultural repertoires: freedom and self reliance and comfort and intimacy. It stresses, according to Illouz that introspection and a better understanding of the self can lead to emotional independence which in turn enables better and stronger relations.

The common argument against Oprah's instant remedies which sees it false or as a type of consumerism is rejected by Illouz. She compares Oprah's methods with ritualistic healing in traditional societies which is often a social matter and event which involves a charismatic figure, like Oprah. Oprah's healing techniques utilize her charisma and the public eye and that is the reason why people willingly subject themselves to the exposure on her show. Change is thus achieved through powerful symbolic processes mediated by the creation of an imagined community which shares the person's personal (reconstructed) narrative.

However, Oprah is different from other forms of spiritual healing in being sustained by a technological apparatus and in being a source of ever increasing capital (Illouz is probably referring here to various types of capital, not just financial). Furthermore, Oprah's influence is not limited to individuals, but also applies to organizations and institutes. She is an empire of assistance, through philanthropy and other forms of social activity which serve to emphasis her moral accountability. Illouz also notes are the various methods employed by Oprah and the various mediums of her activity (the Oprah show, O magazine, Oprah's web site…) create a hypertext of identity which is stratified by different layers of narrative to produce a thick personal story and process of positive change induced by appearing on the Oprah show. This is for Illouz what makes Oprah a sort of a postmodern program, with the decentering and fluidity of the subject.

Oprah Winfrey and the Glamour of Misery: An Essay on Popular Culture
part 1 - 2