Monday, January 8, 2018


Or not.

Well, that should get your attention. Welcome to the elevated cult of celebrity

If you did not hear Oprah's powerful speech at the Golden Globes, take a moment to read it. It's not long, and it certainly speaks to an adjusted reality for women: 
"Thank you, Reese. In 1964, I was a little girl sitting on the linoleum floor of my mother's house in Milwaukee watching Anne Bancroft present the Oscar for best actor at the 36th Academy Awards. She opened the envelope and said five words that literally made history:" The winner is Sidney Poitier." Up to the stage came the most elegant man I ever remembered. His tie was white, his skin was black—and he was being celebrated. I'd never seen a black man being celebrated like that. I tried many, many times to explain what a moment like that means to a little girl, a kid watching from the cheap seats as my mom came through the door bone tired from cleaning other people's houses. But all I can do is quote and say that the explanation in Sidney's performance in Lilies of the Field: "Amen, amen, amen, amen."  
In 1982, Sidney received the Cecil B. DeMille award right here at the Golden Globes and it is not lost on me that at this moment, there are some little girls watching as I become the first black woman to be given this same award. It is an honor—it is an honor and it is a privilege to share the evening with all of them and also with the incredible men and women who have inspired me, who challenged me, who sustained me and made my journey to this stage possible. Dennis Swanson who took a chance on me for A.M. Chicago. Saw me on the show and said to Steven Spielberg, she's Sophia in 'The Color Purple.' Gayle who's been a friend and Stedman who's been my rock.  
I want to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. We know the press is under siege these days. We also know it's the insatiable dedication to uncovering the absolute truth that keeps us from turning a blind eye to corruption and to injustice. To—to tyrants and victims, and secrets and lies. I want to say that I value the press more than ever before as we try to navigate these complicated times, which brings me to this: what I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have. And I'm especially proud and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories. Each of us in this room are celebrated because of the stories that we tell, and this year we became the story. 
But it's not just a story affecting the entertainment industry. It's one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics, or workplace. So 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. They're the women whose names we'll never know. They are domestic workers and farm workers. They are working in factories and they work in restaurants and they're in academia, engineering, medicine, and science. They're part of the world of tech and politics and business. They're our athletes in the Olympics and they're our soldiers in the military. 
And there's someone else, Recy Taylor, a name I know and I think you should know, too. In 1944, Recy Taylor was a young wife and mother walking home from a church service she'd attended in Abbeville, Alabama, when she was abducted by six armed white men, raped, and left blindfolded by the side of the road coming home from church. They threatened to kill her if she ever told anyone, but her story was reported to the NAACP where a young worker by the name of Rosa Parks became the lead investigator on her case and together they sought justice. But justice wasn't an option in the era of Jim Crow. The men who tried to destroy her were never persecuted. Recy Taylor died ten days ago, just shy of her 98th birthday. She lived as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men. For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. 
But their time is up. 
Their time is up. 
Their time is up. 
And I just hope -- I just hope that Recy Taylor died knowing that her truth, like the truth of so many other women who were tormented in those years, and even now tormented, goes marching on. It was somewhere in Rosa Parks' heart almost 11 years later, when she made the decision to stay seated on that bus in Montgomery, and it's here with every woman who chooses to say, "Me too." And every man -- every man who chooses to listen.  
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've interviewed and portrayed people who've withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights. So I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say "Me too" again.
Transcript of Speech, no edits or corrections.  
It's a good speech. It might be a great speech. I don't know.

In that brief, shining moment, Oprah spoke for many of us when she thrice said, "Their time is up." 

But there is a tremendous difference between performing and presenting performers and managing national and world policy. Just in case no one noticed that's a current problem, let me assure you that it is.

Winfrey is larger-than-life. Hell. she's larger than the planet. Her resume is as astounding as it is long. She has put her money and her efforts where her mouth is and she has had fair amount of success doing just that. 

But not so buried in her long history of self-promotion, Ms Winfrey has glommed onto some pretty weird stuff. She touted Suzanne Sommer's hormones-injections-in-the-vagina quackery and she's been a huge promoter of Dr. Oz, undoubtedly the world's greatest snake-oil sale salesman. And let's not forget her unwaivering support of Jenny McCarthy and the anti-vaccination movement. Just like Feckless Leader today, McCarthy believed vaccines cause autism. Oprah gave all of them a forum to promote not simply bad ideas, but dangerous ones. Where was her research team? How inattentive do you have to be to let any of those cockamamie ideas out in public...much less promote them to an audience of devotees who will follow you like lemmings off a cliff?
"... the possession of great power necessarily implies great responsibility." 
William Lamb, Lord Melbourne ~ 1817
Oprah has not always exercised that responsibility as wisely as one might hope. She is well aware of the power she commands. She has out Martha'd Martha  Stewart. She is her own brand, her own network, her own whatever...everything Feckless Leader aspires to be...but is not. That's pretty heady stuff.  

One cannot really compare Oprah Winfrey and Feckless Leader. Winfrey is civic minded and interested (at least on the surface) in the good-and-welfare of real people. She has been proactive and a leader in every sense of the word. She can put a thoughtful sentence together.  She has proven herself to be a participant at many levels of philanthropy. These are great things to recommend her. 

Eva Peron
That's not to say an actor/performer cannot be a politician. Reagan did it. Schwarzenegger did it. Al Franken did it for a while. Eva Peron did it. Not all actors are mindless twits. Some are very brilliant and effective civic leaders. And surely, Oprah would be one... in Congress. 

But not as president.

The cult of celebrity can only go so far. While I am certain she would surround herself with great thinkers and wise advisors, I cannot help but worry about her lack of political expertise. After Feckless Leader, I want one who understands how the UN works and how agreements are made. I want someone who sees the bigger picture and can envision a United States where We, the People are active participants in the democratic process. I want a governor or a major city mayor or a senator to lead this nation, not someone who will have a basic political learning curve. We need someone to hit the ground running, someone who knows how to build a coalition. 

I am tired of amateur hour. I want a qualified CEO for this nation. Right now, we are way too close to nuclear disaster. Someone who brags about the size of his nuclear button is neither sane nor qualified to be in the same room as said button. 

If Oprah wants to put a toe into politics, she should start with Congress. I am certain she would rout any other candidate. Then, if she wants to run for President, I'll listen. Until then, she is nothing more than another celebrity dilettante. And the last thing We, the People need. 

The WIfely Person's Tip o'the Week

If your face is cracking because of all this sub-zero stuff,
try applying moisturizer while your face is still slightly damp.
**This especially applies to men who, if they're not using something on the face, 
should be.**

Need a good book with which to curl up?
LINGUA GALACTICA goes great with a fire and a glass of wine. 
Now available in paperback!

Find S.J. Schwaidelson on Good Reads!


  1. I am glad she said what she said and I applaud all the good she has done for literacy and education and equality. I agree that although politicians are not always perfect people, at least a good portion of them know the rules of the game, and I am not trying to be snarky by saying game. I don't think you can just come in and rule the world. My main problem with Ms. Winfrey is that she has tried to tell people how to live, and from a vaulted position. She has done more to create people who are crazy for materialism IMHO than even Martha Stewart, and again, in my opinion that is saying a lot. Just because you have a $500 pair of shoes or a cashmere sweater it is not going to help you in any way. I honestly hope that she moves the conversation along, and that she continues to speak out against the present administration and all of the evils they are selling to this country under the MAGA hat.....I pray that Robert Mueller takes the whole bunch of them down soon.

  2. Couldn't agree with you more, WP. If you want to be President, you need to begin your political career somewhere a bit less world-ruining while learning the ropes.

  3. Yikes! Didn't know this (below) about her :(
    I hope she has learned the error of her ways.
    Thank you for the enlightening read.
    She touted Suzanne Sommer's hormones-injections-in-the-vagina quackery and she's been a huge promoter of Dr. Oz, undoubtedly the world's greatest snake-oil sale salesman. And let's not forget her unwaivering support of Jenny McCarthy and the anti-vaccination movement. Just like Feckless Leader today, McCarthy believed vaccines cause autism. Oprah gave all of them a forum to promote not simply bad ideas, but dangerous ones

  4. WP,

    It is sad but true that we are such a celebrity-obsessed and celebrity-driven culture nowadays. Like Pavlov’s dogs we react with great excitement to speeches or pronouncements that are filled with generic platitudes and airy rhetoric, just because the speaker has been on TV or in People magazine. If any junior-level female politician had given the same speech it would have been greeted with yawns and indifference.

    What on Earth are we teaching kids nowadays? Don’t bother to understand the Constitution or engage in civics, since your path to political power is based upon you hosting a talk or reality TV show. The supreme Irony is that Hollywood a moral cesspool and a center of systemic misogynism, will now be holding itself up a champion of feminism with its black dresses and cause ribbons…

    We are about to cross the Rubicon..


    1. Dear Ed,

      Too late; we are already standing in the middle of the Rubicon.