January 16, 2018
Of course, Oprah’s body count doesn’t just come from the hysterias and witch hunts she helped spearhead. Let’s not forget her love of pseudoscience. Over at National Review, Philip DeVoe does a fine job of recalling the time Oprah shilled for murderer James Arthur Ray, the “spiritual warrior” whose “sweat lodge” scam killed three people (the mother of one of the victims directly blamed Oprah’s endorsement of Ray’s murder lodges for the fact that her daughter felt secure taking part in one). And quite a few columnists have brought up Winfrey’s promotion of former somebody Jenny McCarthy’s anti-vaxxerism (because who knows science better than a former nudie model who rose to fame by picking her nose and making wacky faces?). But my favorite slice of Oprah’s reckless indifference pie will always be “The Secret.”
Remember “The Secret”? I wish to God I didn’t. But the damn thing invaded my life twice, in 2006 and 2007, so I have a particularly hard spot in my heart for this particular vial of Oprah snake oil. The Secret was a self-help book and video that took a perfectly rational and commonly accepted notion—that positive thinking can help people deal with mental or physical crises—and turned it into a fraudulent endeavor of biblical proportions. According to The Secret (to quote Slate’s John Gravois), “mind conjures matter.” If you believe in something strongly enough, it will physically appear. Or vanish, if you prefer. In one “example” dramatized in the video, a gay man is constantly beaten up and tormented by homophobic bullies on his way to work. But rather than, you know, calling the cops, he uses The Secret to wish them away, and they vanish (the video doesn’t say whether his thoughts murdered the bullies, or just foisted them onto a different gay man in a different part of town).
In another “case study,” a young boy badly wants a snazzy red bike. So he obsesses over it day and night, clipping photos of the bike, staying up all night staring at the photos, and drawing himself on the bike with crayons. And magically, an old man, most likely the neighborhood pedophile, appears at his door and gives him the bike.
On her show and as a guest on other shows, Oprah pushed The Secret with blind fanaticism. The book and DVD grossed over $300,000,000 in just a few years. Over and over again, Oprah claimed that The Secret is a law of physics no different than gravity. Of course, being pure bullshit, The Secret killed some folks, like Kim Tinkham, who decided to stop treating her breast cancer with medicine because Oprah had assured her that she could just use The Secret to wish the cancer away. Tinkham died from the cancer (bet you didn’t see that coming!). We only know Tinkham’s name because Oprah featured her on her show. There are probably hundreds of other people who also died after substituting The Secret for actual medical care, but we’ll likely never know who they were.
In 2006, a co-producer of one of my documentary films embezzled a large amount of money from the movie’s budget, explaining that all I needed to do was use The Secret to “manifest” replacement money and it would appear in the bank account.
In 2007, a friend of mine attempted suicide after The Secret failed to make her platonic guy friend want to become her boyfriend. Just one more Oprah-made casualty!
So please, people on the left and right, stop saying that Oprah doesn’t have what it takes to be president. She has more than aptly demonstrated an indifference to human life that makes Donald Trump look like Gandhi. Moreover, she knows how to wear the face of the humanitarian while committing acts that are anything but. She can present as a lover of peace and positivity, while leaving behind a trail of bodies.
Why, I can smile, and murder whiles I smile,
And cry ‘Content’ to that which grieves my heart,
And wet my cheeks with artificial tears,
And frame my face to all occasions.
Seriously, what’s more “presidential” than that?