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How does Oprah Winfrey influence the society?

Oprah Winfrey as a Celebrity

     Celebrity is being defined as a person who is famous in areas of entertainment. People theorize celebrity from different aspects such as popularity, influences, power, wealth, encouragement, and self-improvement. In recent decades, celebrities have become more closely related to people’s life and are able to change the society’s operation and behaviors. When people look at the news, it’s always about the celebrities daily life. Oprah Winfrey is an actress, talk show host, philosopher, who has been in famous for many years across the United States and the world; she is the kind of celebrity who uses her power in media to change public’s opinion, the politics, and the society’s movement. She is be called as the “taste-maker and trend setter” (“ Oprah Winfrey’s Endorsement of Barack Obama” 1). Through what ways can Oprah Winfrey fully express the theory of celebrity? How does she change the society.

     The first key factor of celebrity which can be shown from Oprah Winfrey is through her influences on people. Oprah Winfrey is being described as the most powerful and influential woman in the world for many years especially when she was involved in the 2008 presidential campaign. In the article, “Oprah Worth a million votes to Obama?”, Brian Stelter included a numerical evidence counted by the economists Craig Garthwaite and Timothy Moore showing that after Oprah endorsed Obama and showed up on the campaign, Obama’s voting expanded from 423,123 to 1,596,995. “We think people take political information from all sorts of sources in their daily life,” Moore said in an e-mail message, “and for some people Oprah is clearly one of them” (Stelter 1). The economist, Moore thinks that most people would watch Oprah from the television on daily life. Hence, people are easily affected by Oprah’s talk show and change their own political opinions.

     The second key factor of celebrity is the power, which can also be seen from Oprah Winfrey. Celebrities should have the power and are willing to help others. “She is also an activist. In the early 1990s, motivated in part by her own memories of child abuse, Winfrey led a campaign to establish a database of convicted child abusers. It became a reality when President Clinton signed the Oprah Bill into law in 1993. Through her private charity, Winfrey has awarded hundreds of grants that support the education of women in the United States and around the world” (“Oprah Uses Power of Media to Change Lives” 1). This quote directly expresses Oprah’s power as a celebrity to help others. She helps to convict child abusers, and donates money to help women to get better education. “Winfrey has donated $40 million and much personal time to set up the leadership Academy for Girls near Johannesburg. It opened its doors in January with 152 pound students. With the school, Oprah Winfrey says she is just doing what she has always encouraged her viewers to do, use their lives to make a difference in the lives of others” (“Oprah Uses Power of Media to Change Lives” 1). This quote contributes two big ideas; first of all, she donated 40 millions and spent time to set up a school to help young students; secondly, she always encourage her fans to use their own lives to make others’ lives better. Moreover, “Her legendary ability to sell products, ideas, causes, and people is now widely referred to as the Oprah effect” (Peck 7). She uses her power and fame to sell products; people now even have the name for her ability. 

     Third, popularity is owned by most celebrities, but not all celebrities can be so famous like Oprah Winfrey does. “Her looks have changed strikingly over the last two decades, but there is still no one quite like Ms. Winfrey on television, or in the entertainment business. Her talk show has inspired all kinds of imitations, but no other television personality has attained anything near Ms. Winfrey’s wealth, fame, fans and influence” (Oh, Oprah, 20 Years of Talk, Causes and Self-Improvement 1). Many other shows try to imitate the way Oprah acts in the television, but no one can look like her, which makes her more popular. “In 1999, Time magazine included Winfrey on its inaugural list of the 100 most influential people in the world; she has since appeared six times on the Time 100 list-more often than any other individual. No longer labeled a mere talk-show host, Winfrey has been proclaimed a “prophet,” an “inspirational phenomenon”, and “almost a religion”. The synergy of her talk show, book club, Web site, magazine, radio channel, personal growth tours, YouTube channel, Facebook page, and forthcoming cable TV network have made Winfrey not only one of the “most trusted brand names” in America but also “The Queen of All Media,” as Forbes put it in ranking her 234 on its list of world billionaires” (Peck 8). Peck is trying to explain that Oprah Winfrey is really famous; there is never a woman like her before who can appear on the Time 100 list so often. Also, Peck is trying to say that Oprah Winfrey is a rich celebrity, top-ranked in the world billionaires.

     Fourth, the celebrities would change their behaviors to be better. “In the early 1990s, she and her fellow talk show hosts were the focus of mounting public denunciations of the genre as “talk rot,” “trash talk TV,” and worse. In 1994, as condemnation of talk shows escalated and her own ratings were slipping against competition from Ricki Lake and Jerry Springer, Winfrey announced she would cease focusing on dysfunction and start emphasizing positive topics. By the end of that decade, Winfrey would have managed not only to survive the talk-show wars and retain her program’s top-ranked spot but also become a media tycoon and cultural icon” (Peck 8). The celebrities, such as Winfrey, not standing at the peak all the time; they sometimes fall off a cliff, and then change themselves to be better. Winfrey changed herself after 1994, and made her show a magic again. The celebrities are also the model of the people; people would learn from the celebrities; when Oprah Winfrey are talking positive topics, people learn from her attitudes.

      In conclusion, Oprah Winfrey can fully express the theory of celebrity in which she could self-improve to be better, and has a great influence on publics. Most of the celebrities don’t have much influences like she does on publics. She can change people’s thinks and actions.


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