Critic proof and queen of superficial television Oprah Winfrey has done something wonderful today. You've probably already heard the story, but for those uninformed Oprah has opened a girls leadership academy in South Africa which cost her more than 40 million dollars.
Even a cynic like myself can do nothing but praise her for this. 40 million is a lot of money no matter where you spend it. Hell should could've bought Bolivia with that cash. It's no drop in the bucket even for someone of her wealth and she's truly making a solid commitment to the betterment of an impoverished nation.
She of course had this to say:
"I became so frustrated with visiting inner-city schools that I just stopped going. The sense that you need to learn just isn't there," she says. "If you ask the kids what they want or need, they will say an iPod or some sneakers. In South Africa, they don't ask for money or toys. They ask for uniforms so they can go to school."
Now this troubles me. While it may be true that inner city youths are more interested in quick routes to material excess rather than work hard and appreciate the benefits of living in a first world country she's been a contributor to that kind of culture. The products she endorses (iPod), gives away on her talk show, and help make her rich are embedded into our conscious and now she shows disdain for it. Yes it's easy to criticize parents and children for embracing our values of excess, but Oprah's built an empire on it advertising such products through her shows and magazine. It's like she's amazed that the people behind the hawking of such merchandise are doing their jobs effectively.
Oprah is beloved by millions and it's truly mind boggling how she created a legion of fans who worship her as a messiah. Richard Dawkins said recently religion will be wiped off the earth in the next couple of decades. Depending on your definition of faith I believe the church of Oprah will never die. She's just that good.
That being said I do wish the best for her school and hope many children benefit greatly from her generosity.
"I understand that many in the school system and out feel that I'm going overboard, and that's fine. This is what I want to do. I wanted to take girls with that 'It' quality, and give them an opportunity to make a difference in the world. I'd like to think I have as much good sense as I have money, so that's a lot of good sense." - Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Goes to School