Pop Rocks: A World Without Oprah
The 25th and final season of The Oprah Winfrey Show kicked off yesterday with a John Travolta dance number, an appearance by Paul Simon (of "and Garfunkel" fame, not the deceased U.S. Senator), and an announcement that Oprah would take the 300 studio audience members in attendance on an eight-day trip to Australia in December (and, presumably, would also bring them back). It's the beginning of the end for the TV show praised (or blamed) for enabling America's self-help addiction and helping to change television from a medium for entertainment to a conduit for teary confessionals and self-serving celebrity mea culpas.
So long, suckers.
Now that the damage has been done we're left to ask: how will the departure of the most powerful woman in America -- a media titan responsible for unleashing Rachael Ray, Dr. Phil, and a bouncing Tom Cruise upon the rest of humanity -- affect an already politically and economically uncertain world?
Wonder no longer, for here at the Pop Rocks Think Tank for Media Change Management and Paradigm Shiftery, I devoted the countless minutes between the end of last night's Cowboys-Redskins game and the season premiere of The Venture Bros. to examining the fallout from Oprah's departure. The results may shock and arouse you.
1. Chicago Must Find Another Tourist Draw
The Harpo Studios building, where the show is taped, is visited by millions of OGs (Oprah Groupies) each year. This provides a sizeable financial infusion for a city that's starting to weather significant economic hardships. The same folks who line up for photos and to pick up copies of The Poisonwood Bible are unlikely to hop the Green Line and brave the neighborhood around U.S. Cellular Field to take in a White Sox game, or take the storied Fugitive movie tour (with stops at the Pullman Pub and the Illinois Bell Building).
What could possibly be the city's salvation in its time of need? Four words: Jersey Shore: Lake Michigan.
2. No One Will Ever. Read. Again.
Getting your book selected by Oprah's Book Club can mean a boost of almost a million readers. For example, when Oprah picked Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, it's print run increased by 800,000. Without her wise guidance, hapless potential readers will soon be lost in a morass of inferior Amazon reviews, podcasts, and giant racks of "bestsellers" looming over them as they walk through the nearest Barnes & Noble. Overwhelmed, they'll eventually resign themselves to picking up whatever everyone else on the airplane is reading, which is good news for John Grisham and Tom Clancy.