Pop Culture

Oprah’s Lifeclass: Learning from the 1%

Deus ex MacIntosh is on hold this week, because I’m out of questions and it feels tawdry to make one up.  (You can help fix that, ask me something here!) Instead, we’re going to talk about our old friend Oprah.

Longtime readers know that our not-so-secret wish is to be purchased by the Oprah Lady Empire, allowing us all to quit our day jobs and devote ourselves to Persephone full time. Every ladyblog needs a dream. When I, along with a few million of my closest friends, was invited to participate in Oprah’s Lifeclass, I jumped.

Because of the aforementioned day job, my Persephone responsibilities, real life and a general ambivalence, I have not been participating in any of the online activities, but I have watched each episode of the class on OWN.

Oh, Oprah.

Each class consists of Oprah in close-up, talking to the camera from a comfy chair.  Each class has a theme, from recognizing ego to letting go of anger to being honest with one’s self, which are all perfectly fine things to talk about, and perhaps relevant to Oprah’s target demo.  Oprah uses clips from her long-running talk show to highlight each point.  Again, that makes sense, and what else is she going to do with all that footage? Aside from running reruns on OWN, that is.

My problem with Lifeclass is the timing, and the folks Oprah is using to help her teach her lessons. As people all across America are protesting wealth inequality, corporate shenanigans and the church of greed, Oprah is holding up example after example of extremely wealthy, extremely privileged folk and expecting her audience to not only give a shit, but to emulate them.

I’ve always liked Oprah, in as much as it’s possible to “like” someone I don’t personally know, but I think the oft-repeated criticism of her being out of touch is apt. I respect the hell out of how hard she worked to get where she is. I respect her efforts to use her power, money and influence to give others a hand up. I especially respect how many barriers she had to bust through to become the icon she is.

In my opinion, The Oprah Winfrey Show was at its weakest during the celebrity suck-up episodes, and strongest when Oprah talked with real people. Lifeclass, at this point, has focused almost exclusively on Oprah’s former celebrity and tycoon guests. We’ve learned how not to fear aging by talking with starlets. We’ve learned that billionaires like to laugh from Jeff Bezos. We’ve learned that anger will eat us up inside from Terry McMillan. We’ve learned that if you never give up and wish really hard, we can be billionaire, starlet, best-selling authors, too.  Or something.

In short, all I’ve learned from Oprah’s LifeClass is that she knows a lot of rich people with whom I have little or nothing in common, and that she has a large collection of really cute tops.

I’m sticking it out through the rest of the week, but I think this is one class I’ll be dropping.

By [E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

4 replies on “Oprah’s Lifeclass: Learning from the 1%”

That’s unfortunate.  I know the best lessons, the most inspiring ones for me, have been from people who started out small and worked their asses off till they got big.  Paula Dean is one of my favorites, she started her cooking goddess career by selling homemade box lunches to office workers in Savannah.  Etsy also has a lot of interviews with their artists who started as hobbyists and worked their hobby into a full time job, and they are more than happy to tell you how they did it.

I guess Oprah is giving “life” lessons, not career lessons, but still…

Ah -ha.


I have been following the Lifeclass ONLY online, as I don’t have Cable and can’t find the lifeclass episodes online. So the celebrity whatnots are only vignettes, little clips you can watch to supplement the class material. There are journal prompts, corresponding articles, and so forth, all of which are WAY more my style. You raise an excellent point, and I’m not super surprised the show is this way… But I’m glad I’ve been doing it online instead, because there’s been some good material there.

Also, we love you, Oprah. Come buy our shit.

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