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October 4, 2008

some help

I would love for you to click below and react to Oprah's introduction to the recent Emmys. What stands out to you? What resonates, or doesn't. Would like your thoughts on you and TV ::

Oprah's speech ::

Welcome everybody to the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards. As we have just been so
charmingly reminded by some of our most shining stars, nothing else in our
world speaks to us quite like television. Television has spoken to us and
given us words to live by -- some of them a little more colorful than
others. For 60 years now -- at the Emmys -- the Television Academy had
brought us together to honor truly distinguished achievement by those men
and women who use the singular power of television wisely and artfully to
make us laugh, to make us cry and yes to make us sometimes even think.
Grouch Marx once said, "I find television very educating. Every time someone
turns on the television set I go in the other room and read a book." And
yet, you can bet your life, Groucho, that television can teach us a thing or
two, or even, I've heard rumors, cause some people to actually buy books.
I've been extremely blessed to experience first hand the full power of
television. Television helped open up my world and I know that the same is
true for so many of you here in this audience tonight and millions more out
there joining us from a watching world. These have not been easy times in
the world of TV, or in the world generally for that matter. But tonight, we
are all here, excited, to take a few hours -- not more than a few -- to
celebrate a medium that comes into our homes to not just entertain us but
sometimes educate and often inspire us, somehow in the process putting our
own lives in high definition.

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Comments (76)

Re: "Television helped open up my world and I know that the same is true for so many of you here in this audience tonight and millions more out there joining us from a watching world."

In this statement, there's an odd conflation here between producers and consumers which seems inappropriate for the medium. Watching television is not the same as participating in web 2.0-type collaborations. Oprah often interprets emotional involvement as collaboration.

Posted by: chelly at October 4, 2008 8:10 PM

Television used to open up my world, or actually be my world when I was growing up. It was a shared medium through which I created memories with family and friends. Now I rarely watch "television," instead I watch the creations that are put to film and video, and more often than not I watch them on the web.

"Television" is not a forum for education, inspiration and entertainment anymore, it's a vehicle to sell me the idea that I'm lacking something and it's out on a store shelf or a car lot somewhere. I'll be loved and healthy if I simply buy something -- but otherwise I'm a loser. I love the creativity and information that comes through the medium, but I no longer embrace the medium itself, because it doesn't really love me, it loves my money.

Plus, like a bad relationship, it whines that I'm not letting it run my life anymore and don't pay it any attention. I hate whining.

So I guess I'm having an affair with the internet.

Posted by: KayJay at October 4, 2008 8:40 PM

Wow, she did not even mention mind control.

While TV is generally seen as a "medium", it is really a "tool", one not wielded by the watchers. As a tool of manipulation, it has no equal.

Posted by: tech_sam at October 4, 2008 8:42 PM

It's the old-guard congratulating itself on it's unchallenged purveyor of all information.

Posted by: Erik Kastner at October 4, 2008 9:49 PM

I'm a little turned off by Oprah siting her own experience as an example of the power of television. My experience with television has been quite different than Oprah's. Heh.

somehow in the process putting our own lives in high definition

I do not feel this from television but I do from the internet. Being able to actively contribute to the internet is the ultimate tool. I actually feel more engaged in my world now because of the way the internet works. Television has always made me feel lazy and guilty. The computer almost never feels like a waste of my time. I used to watch television to unwind. Now I mess around online- and in the way television used to leave me feeling mentally lethargic, the computer invigorates me. I realized recently that I watch very little no television (except sports) and I NEVER channel surf anymore. If I have time to burn I much prefer the computer to the tv. Watching television feels uncomfortably passive, and I frequently lose interest and wander away from the tv during commercial breaks. I used to be able to sit and watch television for hours, even before DVRs!

Posted by: Kate at October 4, 2008 11:05 PM

Wow, she actually gave that speech? Maybe she really sold it on stage, but it reads like just a weird lump of cliches. Frankly, this sounds like the sort of parody speech you make up on the spot in order to mock the kind of insider self-aggrandizement that the Emmys pretty much epitomizes.

Posted by: dave-o at October 4, 2008 11:15 PM

Is Ophra aware of channels like Discovery Cannel or National Geographic Network?? What I get from reading this is that she recognizes as "television" the empty, time-filling part of this communicational tool... Sad.. but majority.

Posted by: LaLe at October 4, 2008 11:42 PM

I agree with all comments so far. Television as a form of education is sort of a silly thing to say. As a child, if you watched too much television that day and your parents told you to go and play outside, if you responded with, "But, television is educational.", then (if they were like my parents) would have beat the crap out of you.

Television is a nest for the marketers. Everywhere you look: Movies, shows, even music videos bombard viewers with brand names and background advertising. But that's not new information. I know that everyone knows how widely television is used to advertise. I also know that there are (were) some television shows that had purely educational qualities (Bill Nye weeps).

Posted by: Radrily at October 4, 2008 11:57 PM

Television is fine. ;) Interactive is just a lot more fun. Roll on the 21st century!

Posted by: Pachunka at October 5, 2008 1:15 AM

she sounds like she watches too much TV.

"I find television very educating. Every time someone turns on the television set I go in the other room and read a book."

Posted by: nader at October 5, 2008 1:29 AM

Oh, I got it! She's saying she's sorry for TV because it's made us all stupid!

Posted by: nader at October 5, 2008 2:27 AM

Hmm... Maybe she is trying to get more people to join her pesky little book club.

Posted by: Gordon at October 5, 2008 3:03 AM

She seems to note telly's triviality more than anything else.. By the time she offers a redeeming quality, it's more like damning with faint praise. Odd from someone who could might easily speak of its genuine capacity to help.

I wonder... if that's what SHE thinks of TV.. maybe there's little hope for it.. and we should all immediately make ours into herb planters.
A community project there Ze? :)

Posted by: Pedro at October 5, 2008 3:06 AM

ophra's speech about television doesn't strike much of chord with me. a few years ago though, this one by visionary film director, werner herzog truly did:

"i have the impression that the images that surround us today are worn out. they are abused and useless and exhausted. they are limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution. when i look at the postcards in tourist shops and the images and advertisements that surround us in magazines, or i turn on the television, or if i walk into a travel agency and see those huge posters with that same tedious and rickety image of the grand canyon on them, i truly feel there is something dangerous emerging here. the biggest danger, in my opinion, is television because to a certain degree it ruins our vision and makes us very sad and lonesome.

our grandchildren will blame us for not having tossed hand-grenades into TV stations because of commercials. television kills our imagination and what we end up with are worn out images because of the inability of too many people to seek out fresh ones."


"if you switch on television it's just ridiculous and its destructive. it kills us. and talk shows will kill us. they kill our language. so we have to declare holy war against what we see every single day on television. commercials and – i think there should be real war against commercials, real war against talk shows ... or all these things.

Posted by: zero at October 5, 2008 3:17 AM

She says television a lot?

Posted by: Douglas Stetner at October 5, 2008 3:39 AM

"Television has spoken to us and
given us words to live by -- some of them a little more colorful than

A lot of my friends seem to think coolness is derived from remembering one liners and zingers. I have not subscribed to cable or satellite since my first year of college. Now in my forth year (and a year off) I feel out of the loop when people start their television talk. Believe it or not television is a hot topic of discussion. People ask me if I've watched the last episode of American Idle, or if I saw Letterman last night, or they'll start throwing TV show names at me: "Oh, you know Entourage right?" I get treated like an outcast when I mention I don't usually watch TV unless I am at someones house, usually the first thing they suggest is to buy the season. I honestly think this kind of behavior is pretty lame. I'm not against television, and I probably will have cable again in the future, but I really dislike how people use television to fill their lives. I also especially dislike how some people treat me as less 'cool' or idiotic for not watching TV.

Posted by: SetanaZen at October 5, 2008 4:08 AM

Replace "television" with "the internet" and she'd have me.

Posted by: des at October 5, 2008 4:14 AM

Methinks she doth protest too much as she argues with Groucho without matching his level of wit. Why does the speech presume television as a robber of intellect and choose defensiveness - is this an attempt to sound deep and create greater value than what exists?

The speech seems belabored and rushed - maybe too many writers unraveled the thing after it was perfect and too soon before going live. Or maybe she ad libbed too much, but the crafting has either been distorted away or was never there.

It seems like she was manipulating toward an opportunity to brag about her influence, and her book club. And a personal peeve: enough "blessed". God's supreme approval? Doubtful: : The high def joke is cheesy and contrived.

Thoughts on me and TV: I do and have watched far too much, but of late gravitate toward the stuff of the 60's. Current shows seem too multi task oriented, overstimulating, easily violent (except Letterman, Daily Show, etc.) I'm addicted, it talks and sings and satiates. I'm trying to get off it, hence, lots of time with you these days, Ze! (and my blog).

Posted by: jeano at October 5, 2008 4:36 AM

She said: "Some think television is uncool because Groucho Marx said so, but I'm smarter because my sentimentalities are gonna be aired in high definition."

Posted by: Oliver Reichenstein at October 5, 2008 10:33 AM

It sounds like anything anyone could say about the industry at an event such as the Emmy awards.

It seems unoriginal and completely expected. Anyone could have written this for her. Yawn!

You could easily repurpose the same speech about literature, libraries, educational institutions, and zoos for that matter.

Posted by: ingrid at October 5, 2008 10:35 AM

It sounds like something who's made a career in television would say to a room full of people who have made a career in television on a night when they're giving out awards for stuff that gets shown on television.

Posted by: affablehipster at October 5, 2008 10:37 AM

It has become 'cool' (not in the McLuhan sense, necessarily) to say that television is old, not interactive, not the web, etc...
Funny thing I have learned recently. All the talk about how under 35 year olds are hard to track, demographically, due to their being so web-centric seems to evaporate when people have children. Then they stop spending so much time online and spend more time in front of the television.
Televisions is not dead, and surprisingly it is not irrelevant.
Oprah's comments did stand out in one way for me. Her second line, drawing attention to 'our most shining stars'. That is where the 'one to many' or 'few to all' aspect of that medium, in my opinion, creates trouble. By focusing so much attention on such a small group who have learned how to manipulate a medium so well, we create a balance in our culture that puts focus and attention on skills and people that may not be the most able to help us evolve, culturally.

Posted by: Leslie Bocskor at October 5, 2008 10:41 AM

Those self-congratulatory speeches are always a bit awkward to outsiders. Of course, nothing else is "quite like television." But it doesn't imply that television is indispensable. The speech ends on the usual notes about defending television, as if it could suddenly be replaced by a void. But "television as we knew it" doesn't exist anymore, since the rest of the world has changed. Television means something different, now. Some people may still use television sets and television stations won't go away overnight. They simply don't fit the puzzle in the same way because the puzzle has changed.

Posted by: Alexandre at October 5, 2008 10:44 AM

I loathe TV, but even to my ear it sounds incredibly defensive, like she's rebutting someone else's anti-TV rant. Who said TV -wasn't- all those things?

Posted by: Anita / Married ...with Dinner at October 5, 2008 11:01 AM

In general, seems aimed at an industry audience, not a viewer audience.

"These have not been easy times in
the world of TV" -- first reaction: doesn't seem like Oprah is doing too badly for herself. 2nd reaction: to the extent that times are tough for TV, it's because there are better uses for our time.

Posted by: Chuck at October 5, 2008 11:05 AM

"Television helped open up my world and I know that the same is true for so many of you here in this audience tonight and millions more out there joining us from a watching world"
It is true in my case that TV had opened up the world. It would be next to impossible to see the pain & suffering of people across the globe suffering from man-made & natural calamities. Or the hope & generosity of people across cultures & geographies. But the greatest failing of TV (as with any other medium pre-internet) was the limited ability of a viable participation mechanism. Also the pervasive nature of TV mean that it was also a mechanism of propaganda that allowed the vested interests to shape public perception & attitudes on vital & important issues.

Posted by: Srikanth at October 5, 2008 11:05 AM

I feel that her speech was cute but unenlightened. It sounds like a mixture of self-justification and product placement.

I agree with her that the television holds a wealth of information. From educational programming you can learn all about animals, history, and science. From sitcoms you can often learn how to handle yourself in social situations, and lessons to live by.

However, these same luxuries are available through radio programming, feature-length films at a theater, online, and oh yeah, books.

The part which bothers me the most about her speech is "nothing else in our world speaks to us quite like television. Television has spoken to us and given us words to live by"

She's completely ignoring the value of content. The produced content which is meant to educate us does, but that doesn't mean a television streaming live violence and pornography all day long really does anything.

Although her words reference the unique nature of television, she gives the impression that "nothing else in our world CAN speak to us quite like television. I find it very misleading. What about a good parent or mentor? What about a good friendship? Or the experience of accomplishing a goal you've set for yourself? What about books? - the original medium of education.

My general assessment of Oprah is that she has a good heart but is too self-congratulatory. She is always talking about her efforts to make a difference in the world. Yes she makes a difference, but her difference would be hundreds of times more powerful if instead of giving cars to her studio audience, she fundraised and supported the Red Cross. If instead of congratulating television for making everone's lives better, she congratulated those leaders making a difference in our world by not watching tv and instead focusing on real problems in our world

Posted by: Eric at October 5, 2008 11:08 AM

I like the Groucho quote a lot, because i am a fervent reader and i often find that TV drains me of my energy.

What resonates with me from her speech is how she
puts her people (us!) down by saying "yes, to make us sometimes even think" and how there are rumours that people actually go buy books because of TV.
What is that about?
self-esteem problem? I'm from Germany, i have not been to America (yet) and i don't like people to just assume that "ALL AMERICANS ARE STUPID WANKERS". Now here she is, doing the exact same thing, isn't she?
She could have talked about how Television is connecting people, how millions of people can share a childhood experience (Dumbo, Bambi, Donald Duck,..).
She could have talked about how entertaining TV is, that people get inspired (while the majority of people slump in their sofas and watch other people doing what they love - instead of getting up and doing something real), blahblabla.
why did she connect TV and books? I think she believes in the superior power of books as well.
I do.

Posted by: Clara at October 5, 2008 11:09 AM

I admire her enthusiasm, but being Oprah has skewed her sense of what television is for the average person. Sure, _she's_ used television to reach out to people and sell books, but the average television viewer is probably still using television as a means to unwind. Television is past its golden age, having turned into a big, diverse, more dated medium. She didn't mention how television has become more nebulous, being viewed at the viewer's convenience with Tivo, or not even viewed on a television because of the Internet. It's like the television she's talking about is the older one Groucho Marx was talking about and not the less-clearly-defined version of today.

Her speech was like praising how wonderful food is. Yes, sure, it can be wonderful sometimes, and I'm sure the stuff Oprah's getting is great, but when she talks about inspiration, etc. people are going to think "uh, most of the stuff I consume is garbage" and then silently disagree.

Posted by: Henry at October 5, 2008 11:18 AM

The end of this self agrandizing drivle can't come soon enough

Posted by: Wilzer at October 5, 2008 11:48 AM

I think it's telling that she said, "cause some people to actually buy books." She didn't say, "cause some people to actually read books."

I can't speak for everyone, but television is becoming increasingly irrelevant in my life. Whether that's due to the rise of the internet or the fact that I'm a big boy now is hard to say.

Posted by: David Sidlinger at October 5, 2008 12:27 PM

"Television has spoken to us and
given us words to live by."
Words like, "Hey Lois, I farted!" and "Mmm, Beer." Yeah, Tv's really influential.

Posted by: AATFC at October 5, 2008 12:28 PM

It's reads already faded and crackling like old radio reports resigned to pop culture archives.

Her superlatives are over wrought but accepted as in eulogy.

I grew up a television baby and the thing I most applied to my real life from it was standing at the kitchen sink doing dishes and mimicking commercials for dish soap. Working up a foam and blowing it, lips snapping back to a static grin I didn't feel. Like science experiments my sisters and I crowded around bathroom sinks and applied burning Noxema masks reciting as many product endorsement lines as we could. Little Mildred Montags.

Those memories came back when reading. She sounds just like the masked women and perfect dish doers.

Posted by: boo at October 5, 2008 12:32 PM

I essentially agree with all the other comments that TV is a mind suck. Now, had there been any real artistry involved in making TV, this might be a different story. To me, (many) films are artwork and can actually inspire and interact emotionally with the audience, like a book; after seeing a good movie, you walk out of the theater with a new set of eyes - you're affected. On the flip side, TV is nothing more than a money making machine. The main goal of show producers is not to make something worth while, but to make a profit. Even TV news is all about ratings. So, I don't think TV is inherently all bad, but it’s been made garbage thanks to its commercialized nature. And I’m guessing Oprah is getting paid a boat load of money to make that cringe worthy speech.

Posted by: poetree33 at October 5, 2008 12:43 PM

I admire what Oprah has done as a double minority, and I admire the way she endeavors to reach out to other people and help them make their lives better. But really, TV isn't necessary to do that. Start in your own community. Donate to the food bank. Give your old bicycle to the homeless shelter. Read books to a nursing home resident. Sign up for the Big Brothers/Sisters program. You don't have to be Oprah or use TV to make an impact on someone's life. TV is a major distraction away from the truly important things in life. Don't drink the kool-aid and act like TV actually does any good.

Posted by: Haven at October 5, 2008 12:56 PM

Isn't this the speech George Bush gave, in defense of the Iraq war and his administration a while back?

Posted by: Jeremy Anderson at October 5, 2008 1:02 PM

Oprah's introduction to the Emmys makes me want to ask your question to Neil Postman. He wrote the following in one my favorite books, Amusing Ourselves to Death.

"What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy."

I miss Neil Postman.

Posted by: gracie at October 5, 2008 1:16 PM

"...nothing else in our world speaks to us quite like television."
seems to be just general pleasantry. pretty generic 'good thing' to say about that which you are about to honor.

"Television has spoken to us and given us words to live by -- some of them a little more colorful than others."
i'm sure there was a laugh that she tried to get here. again, still doing a generic speech. start nicely, get a laugh, start to say what you are here for.

"I've been extremely blessed to experience first hand the full power of television."
this feels like the kind of statement that she felt necessary to include because it's true, but something she didn't want to emphasize -- maybe even something she wanted to skip entirely. talking about one's own success might appear too arrogant for her to be comfortable focusing any amount of attention on it. the statement itself feels weakened just because i feel like she's trying to gloss over it. i wish she would have said more or just ignored it. granted, that isn't the point she is trying to make, so maybe it would be better off unsaid.

all in all, the speech is a very nice introduction. i would expect nothing less from a tv show host like Oprah.
it is a generic introductory speech, but it is a good one.

Posted by: Will at October 5, 2008 1:37 PM

Television makes me dream, but it's the Internet that gives me the hope, the courage, the support and the tools to turn these dreams into reality.

Posted by: clamchowder at October 5, 2008 1:43 PM

It certainly doesn't sound like she is talking to us Joe Six-Packs. It sounds like she is speakin to the hollywood 'John Alphas' in an effort to save the Emmys from being pulled from the televised audience. I can't say that I've ever watched any of those award shows. My 2¢.

Posted by: bunny at October 5, 2008 1:55 PM

There are lots of programs, films and documentaries on TV that are educating and interesting, maybe even beneficial. It can also be discussed what the purpose of the entire medium is. Is it to educate and inform or is to entertain? What ever the definition is I find television not only waste of time but also the most dangerous way to do so. It seems sort of dangerous to switch your brain to neutral if you’re unsure of what the content of the stream is going to be. I mean that for instance the news contain a lot of stuff I might want to avoid. I find it safer and more comfortable to read about the news. That way I can categorize the story by its headline and make an informed decision. TV has had its place in time but at least I think that a medium that’s info flow has only one direction has become obsolete. I for one have completely stopped watching TV for about 8 months ago and it’s really had positive effects on my time management issues and general level of interest for anything.

Posted by: Kirsi at October 5, 2008 1:59 PM

Some folks watch TV because they love it and others because they love to hate it. This is my best guess why this little speech follows the "... but seriously... just kidding! but seriously... just kidding!" pattern so tightly.

It took me a while to realize that TV is all about familiar, easy-to-perceive patterns (e.g. at any given moment, there is always a channel showing a beautiful woman throwing a hiffyfit). DFW wrote an essay that made me realize that sitcoms were predictable because people watch TV to be comforted.

As individuals, we may choose not to watch TV but we can't stop living in a society that still watches it. My neighbors didn't buy a TV until they noticed their son reading the TV guide so he could figure out the characters and stories his classmates were acting out at school.

Posted by: Mita at October 5, 2008 2:06 PM

The basic premise that TV can be educational in addition to entertaining is true. However, because most television executives are focused on the bottom line, that kind of stuff is generally only found in the outer reaches of basic cable, while the networks spend their money on the most salacious, eye-catching, ratings-grabbing stuff they can find, and damn the societal consequences.

Reality TV is the epitome of this trend; lower costs, higher ratings. They will do and show anything the FCC will allow to slip through, so long as it attracts the great majority of this country, which seems to be the lowest common denominator. Shows that don't ask you to analyze or reflect; the ultimate in passivity.

But don't forget that when the channel numbers increase, so to does the amount of actual intelligence and creativity. Comedy Central's commitment to The Daily Show and The Colbert Report may only be because it garners incredible ratings for a basic cable show at 11 pm, but it fills a niche. Where there is a dearth of wit on the networks, you can find it in abundance there. Even Saturday Night Live, which used to be on the cutting edge of satire, is dumbed down and rarely innovative.

Still, there's a flicker of hope every now and again. Of course, even if these shows were the most well-written, well-acted, intelligent shows in the universe, a dip in the ratings and they'll be yesterday's news.

So it doesn't ring true after all -- Oprah's spiel about the beauty and magic of the uplifting spirit of television -- because in the end it is simply a business. The executives try to wring every penny out of it as they can and have no interest in the artistic value of the shows they produce. It's just the nature of the beast.

Posted by: Lhyzz at October 5, 2008 2:47 PM

Like she's too good for TV?

I guess people did buy books because of Oprah's Book Club, which is good. I don't find the books she picks interesting, though.

Posted by: Angela at October 5, 2008 3:29 PM

"Grouch Marx once said, "I find television very educating. Every time someone
turns on the television set I go in the other room and read a book." And
yet, you can bet your life, Groucho, that television can teach us a thing or
two, or even, I've heard rumors, cause some people to actually buy books."

Wow. She completely missed the joke in that quote. He didn't go out and buy a book because of something he saw on television. He went in the other room to read because he didn't give a shit about television and didn't want to watch it. Sad when you have to explain something like that to an adult.

Posted by: Liz at October 5, 2008 3:41 PM

I'm taking a TV History class right now, so I find this pretty interesting. I'm reminded of Murrow's speech in Good Night and Good Luck and also Newton Minow's famous "vast wasteland" speech in the late 50's, both of which implored the TV industry to focus more on being a service for public betterment rather than trying to maximize ad dollars.

Oprah seems to be of the opinion that TV has become what Murrow and Minow wanted has become a reality. While TV has its ups and downs, I would say it hasn't changed much since then. It's still essentially about making safe, mindless fluff that panders to advertisers.

But she's right that, like back then, TV can sometimes be a powerful, informative, and effective medium. Things like the Planet Earth series, shows like The Daily Show, Lost, etc. still push us to think and learn while entertaining and enriching.

Essentially, Oprah is romanticizing a little, but she's allowed to praise the medium that made her a fajillionaire.

Posted by: Cathy at October 5, 2008 5:02 PM

Commercial television is corporate crap. "Public" television is more of the same. In both cases corporate entities are the primary source of funding. I have heard many argue that the funding corporations have little or no say in public broadcasting content, but I simply cannot believe that. The government of the United States has been actively proving, time and again over decades, that what's written on paper is not always the same as what's said behind closed doors. Television is slavery. Trust noone.

Posted by: sean at October 5, 2008 5:44 PM

First and foremost, television provides us with scripted entertainment. For daily relaxation and stress relief, many of us enjoy the comedies on after work. Some like to criticize this, but I think it's generally a pleasant activity.

Unfortunately, for many it also provides them with their news. But news becomes just a form of politicized entertainment, often meant to feed the ideology of a certain demographic. Such news outlets have been disastrous in their effects on people's approach to political issues, and created a very partisan society.

Arguably the overall best contribution by television are the documentaries which are both entertaining and educational. Channels such as the History channel and others provide some truly wonderful videos.

Lastly, it works as an incredibly effective marketing mechanism. Thanks to television, people become aware of products that might interest them and improve their lives.

While the Internet take control, I think regular comedy shows will retain their popularity, as will documentaries.

Posted by: Joel at October 5, 2008 6:19 PM

The moment she said: "...nothing else in our
world speaks to us quite like television," she showed how out of touch she actually is. I'm sure everyone reading this blog knows that people don't want to be spoken to anymore, they want to be a participant in the conversation. Apparently (and unfortunately) Oprah doesn't read zefank.com.

Posted by: Chris Wojda at October 5, 2008 7:11 PM

Ze its just the standard "AWARDS" utterance
by someone who made A LOT of money from TV
and probably written by someone on the "TEAM"

don't get me wrong .. i have Nothing against Oprah or Harpo but y'know in a parallel universe in would sound like this

ZeFranks's speech ::

Good Evening Sports Racers and welcome everybody to the 170th Prime time Netty Awards.
As we have just been so charmingly reminded by some of our most shining stars, nothing else in our world speaks to us quite like the internet.

Internet has spoken to us and given us words to live by -- some of them a little more colorful than
others. For 20 years now -- at the Nettys -- the Internet Academy had brought us together to honor truly distinguished achievement by those men
and women who use the singular power of the internet wisely and artfully to make us laugh, to make us cry and yes to make us sometimes even think.

Rupert Murdoch once said "The Internet has been the most fundamental change during my lifetime and for hundreds of years. Someone the other day said, "It's the biggest thing since Gutenberg," and then someone else said "No, it's the biggest thing since the invention of writing."

And yet, you can bet your life, Rupert , that the internet was the end of television. The internet can teach us a thing or two, or even, I've heard rumors, cause some people to actually make their own television.

I've been extremely blessed to experience first hand the full power of the internet. The internet helped open up my world and I know that the same is
true for so many of you here in this audience tonight and billions more out there joining us from a watching world. These have not been easy times in
the world of the internet, or in the world generally for that matter. But tonight, we are all here, excited, to take a few hours -- not more than a few -- to
celebrate a medium that comes into our whole lives to not just entertain us but sometimes educate and often inspire us, somehow in the process putting our
own lives in high definition.


Posted by: simonconlin at October 5, 2008 7:32 PM

So is she saying that without television our lives would be somehow less? Is she really insinuating that our lives would be a "low def" experience without it? That's pompous, ridiculous and vacuous. All at the same time.

Posted by: Jeff Juliard at October 5, 2008 9:22 PM

If it just weren't so abundantly clear that TV was merely the tool of those who have power and that the only things it seeks to educate us about are those things that the powerful elite choose to allow us to know for their own benefit - I might turn one on.

And while I'm not completely anti-television, I think its sad that we are socially conditioned to give it more importance in our lives that in really deserves.

In the end its really all about money and power, not about education or entertainment. Given the true potential for TV...that's just sad.

Posted by: Jenn at October 5, 2008 9:48 PM

i have never ever had a TV at home (out of choice) and the only time i had constant access to tv was in med school, where i was too busy doing other things like bunking classes to climb hills and catch snakes to watch anything other than discovery channel and cartoon network.

as for this speech, her sppech writer needs to learn a new set of cliches to spew.


Posted by: schizo at October 5, 2008 10:11 PM

Well, I mostly think Oprah is just old and out of touch...

TV is more indoctrination than education... Even moreso now than back in the days of Groucho Marx.

But I mean, it's Oprah.

Posted by: Mabus at October 5, 2008 10:21 PM

TV awards shows--- The only place where mediocrity is awarded by those who are even more mediocre.

My new favorite TV invention is "commercial creep". This is where commercial products are advertised on the screen while the show is running. I guess that's what they have to resort to now that everyone has Tivo's or DVR. I watch TV with a laptop going. I mostly watch football and surfing the web and watching the game makes sense since their are so many delays and time outs.

The weak minded are easy prey to the force.. oops I mean TV.

Oprah is their leader.

Posted by: LookMaNoHelment at October 5, 2008 11:07 PM


The not-so-subtle commentary on herself as a driving force in the publishing industry comes across as slightly pretentious to me, but beyond that:

This is the culture that vegetates to such intellectually stimulating programs as "Flavor of Love". Television isn't a fountain of inspiration and education-- it's an instrument of atrophy.

One of Chuck Palahniuk's lines from his novel "Lullaby" has always stuck with me. "Big brother isn't watching anymore. He's singing and dancing" (I'm paraphrasing). While Oprah would like us to believe that television can compel us, I would argue that it serves more as a means of NOT having to think about societal issues, and, as such, serves as a form of social control.

Posted by: kevin at October 6, 2008 12:30 AM

I'm with the people who see the entire speech as defense, with a sort of depressing winking acknowledgment that TV is a medium that NEEDS defense.

"Sometimes, in the rare instance when TV is really incredible, it can make us think, which is something we would be doing if we weren't watching TV."

It's odd and not what I'd expect of Oprah. It's equal parts:

1) Platitudes "as we have been charmingly reminded"
2) Defensiveness (Groucho Marx quote)
3) Self-advertising (sometimes TV makes people buy books! like Oprah's book club! go check it out!)
4) Unnecessary and inexplicable assertion of the Power Of TV (it has power! did you hear me say power? let me say power again. it...uh...somehow...that I will not explain...gives your life more meaning. WE ARE STILL RELEVANT. XOXO)

Posted by: christa at October 6, 2008 1:13 AM

"The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason."

- Hunter S Thompson, Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the '80s

Posted by: Wibbly at October 6, 2008 2:31 AM

Television is evolving into something new, and this evolution is inevitable. Its choice is to evolve or fade.
Oprah is the reigning queen of Television, and many people watch her and study her, read her books and follow her advice religiously. I don't have any harsh words for Oprah, she seems to be a nice lady who has her heart in the right place, alot of influence in many communities, and is trying to push in a specific direction. Oprah is speaking to an older crowd, who used to watch Groucho Marx, who understand his humor. Her cliches speak volumes to them. She is not talking to me.
I am the public television generation. Fred Rogers, Jim Henson, Frank Oz and Morgan Freeman are the people who raised me - who loved me - and my brothers as sisters in this respect are legion. Our collective parents were coming down from the age of free love and divorcing in the harsh light of reality, leaving us alone in their wake, and television was there to hold our hands, there every day at the same time, dependable, and to teach us to relate to one another.
I played with Ernie and Big Bird, I sang with Kermit and Fozzie Bear, they were my friends. I danced with the Electric Company. I was taught that I mattered as an individual, and to love and respect the feelings of others by Mr Rogers. I cried when Mr Hooper died. Yan and the Frugal Gourmet taught me to cook. Zoom and 321-contact taught me science. I learned to love Agatha Christie and Jane Austin novels through Mystery and Masterpiece Theatre. Doctor Who brought me through time and space to places I didn't know were possible, and taught me to think my way out of problems. He taught me Brilliant is Beautiful.
I am old enough now to look back on my life and recognize things for what they were... for what they are. I heard that they are taking Mister Rogers off some of the public television stations, now that Fred Rogers has passed away. I don't think I have the words to express my feelings about it. Something like rage and grief, but deeper. Jim Henson has passed too, but his legacy is still going, Sesame Street is still afloat and doing good for children. Frank Oz is still out there, shining through some movies, and Morgan Freeman smiles down at us sometimes from other movies. I wonder if he knows how much we love him, I wonder if he knows why.
I have a hard time finding things that I want to watch on television - even with expanded cable. Primetime television has become "who can do the most gross and scary thing" and "who can we kick off the island/out of the apartment/off the cooking show/out of the fashion house/out of the team". Even the SciFi channel and Discovery are full of blahblahblah - I DVR the things I want and try hard to ignore most everything else. Doctor Who, Torchwood, Lost, Heroes...
I am planning to have children soon, and I hAte a lot of the cartoons meant for kids on now. I have a strange love of the Teletubbies which I seriously cannot explain. The newest Sesame Street still makes me happy, even if the voices of Kermit and Ernie are wrong. I think I will have to program television for my kids - buy the DVDs and set them to play every day so they too can feel the same love and security, so they have a safety net in case my parenting skills suck too.

Posted by: Madrigorne at October 6, 2008 7:17 AM

I hate television but love dv-r. It's nice to watch shows like Heroes and 30 Rock on my own time, fastforwarding thru commercials. What I don't like is people hailing TV as educational when so much of it is crap. Much of TV content is insulting, pushing out unrealistic and contradictory ideas (we shouldn't have wrinkles or body fat but hey eat a cheeseburger at mcdonalds). I hate that like, a handful of companies own television, all run by a bunch of old white men. Actually I'm tired of old white guys running our country. I say chop TV programming in half and include what's really going on in the world as the main content.

Posted by: heather at October 6, 2008 9:38 AM

Oprah seems to approach this question already having the conclusion and filtering any sort of criticism through the lens of TV being Awesome. I may be a bit cynical but I don't think it would matter to her whether TV is helpful or not, it is her medium and because of that she's going to defend it.

While I'm sure Oprah did think her response would be looked at very deeply I was a little annoyed by it. Sure TV can be a great tool but like everything else it really isn't the be all end all to entertainment, education, life, what have you. TV is just a medium that things can come through and there are varying degrees of good and worthlessness. It's up to each individual person to determine that degree for themselves.

Any medium that a person experiences art through has to be done in moderation or at least shouldn't be the only one they use. I find that dismissing a medium all together as invalid rather close minded. And while I don't enjoy television in general there are a few things I enjoy....just like anything else.

Posted by: TheChris at October 6, 2008 10:23 AM

oprah has watered down her legacy.. big time

she's human and extremely disappointing

Posted by: c at October 6, 2008 10:33 AM

“To make us sometimes even think” (Sometimes? Even??); “can teach us a thing or two” (That’s it?); “or even … actually buy books” (Gasp! + nice promo); “sometimes educate yet often inspire” (Sometimes ~yet~ often?)

Why so sarcastic, so defensive? My bet is somebody had brutally insulted her about entertaining on TV when people should be off doing more “intellectual” things. Reading between the lines, she’s extremely proud of her success but is embarrassed by the criticism. Deep down, she might even agree with it. Otherwise, why so much bitterness?

Plus, three things stick out like sore thumbs:
- “not more than a few” hours: Is she trying to make sure “a watching world” isn’t interpreted as couch potatoes?
- “somehow… high definition”: Sounds like the Academy asked her to say this. What’s it supposed to mean, anyway??
- “You can bet your life, Groucho”: Um, sadly, Groucho is already dead. I read that in a book somewhere.

Posted by: Paperotta at October 6, 2008 2:49 PM

I would have loved to see Bill Hicks host an Emmy awardshow.
Bring some nuance to the tv-propaganda.

Posted by: Lucas at October 6, 2008 2:59 PM

I feel like it's over intellectualized. There's no need.
It's an award show for television. No other industry opens there own awards shows with such dramatic self-important monologue (hang on maybe?)

Posted by: Brigitta at October 6, 2008 9:31 PM

I don't like "charmingly"... right at the begining, just seems weird and out of place or wrong....

after that it reminds me of like a PBS telathon...

like TV is going broke and needs help, or like it's under attack, like she's tryign to stop a book burning or really a TV burning....

it reminds me of old hollywood style award shows. kind of a classic feel. i wasn't around for any of those, but this reads as though it was intended to be "timely" like the clips i've seen from old hollywood award shows feel....

and it almost seems like she's subtly defending television, or gracefully promoting TV propeganda, but i'm not sure why.

but i think if i was sitting in front of the TV and watching and listening to Oprah say this, i probably wouldn't notice any of this. i'd probably just drone in and get the feeling she loves TV (which she should, it's made her retardely rich) and i would be agreeign with the parts abotu TV opening eyes, and minds, emotions, and educating me.

i've honestly felt for years, that i have learned more from TV than i ever did from Public School...

saddly, i think it's accurate and true.

Posted by: Matt at October 7, 2008 9:18 AM

Oprah speaks like a former US president who realizes that she has somehow now become the most powerful person in Canada.

Posted by: Zooom at October 7, 2008 12:13 PM

I notice she didn't mention Weeds, the only TV show I watch with any regularity. Wait! I watch that on a DVD I got from Netflix. Who watches TV?

Posted by: Jrome at October 7, 2008 1:15 PM

It is the custom of every awards show to be self-aggrandizing, while also appearing to be self-aware and self-critical. The phrase, "This is just a load of bullocks!" comes to mind. I will never trust it when an industry tries, in such an obvious and heavy-handed way, to be self-reflective.

I confess I don't own a TV and I am very happy about that. I grew up watching it and even had TiVo for awhile. I got rid of it when I realized what a creativity suck it was for me. However, of all the people who is doing good with TV, Oprah is at the top of the list. Next are Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Other than that, I remain extremely suspicious.

Posted by: The Curious at October 8, 2008 1:45 AM

Honestly, whenever I hear someone loudly proclaiming some sordid story into their cell phone, the only thing that I can think, is 'yet another victim of television'. We have become so used to the candid remarks and open inappropriate conversation that people think nothing of baring their soul to the checkout line.

I believe that there is a significant education factor in tv, however, fewer and fewer people utilize their tv's for this purpose. I have to admit, I'm guilty of this too. Went out with friends this weekend, and when our election conversation died down we spent more than a half hour talking about the forty something balding divorcée who was clearly trolling for booty (and soooo not getting any). Coincidence?
Television plays a central role in our culture, but I honestly do not believe that that is positive. There are few benefits (news, weather, ect...) as far as entertainment value I believe that it leaves more want than it fills in our minds.

Posted by: Elizabeth at October 8, 2008 11:39 PM

Sometimes I feel sad about the amount that TV seems to eat up lives. Occasionally I feel lonely or left out because I don't have a television and I miss out on a piece of culture. I obsessively watch my favorite shows online and try to get my news somewhere, but there's a certain asthetic I miss.

There is something that I am lacking. I feel afraid when I do see all the commercials and scary programs, but when society's moral base changes, so will what we watch.

I think that all people need a way to connect. When I sit at school and listen to people talk about all the 'partying' they do, I think it is about feeling togetherness. TV seems to give that unity to people too. Even if it's silly unity, it's better than 'we all get wasted!'

I only watch a few shows online, but even I feel a relaxed feeling when the big low notes of the House theme start.

My parents are divorced and my daddy lives alone with the dog. I think he is very lonely sometimes. He doesn't have any interests, is too dyslexic for reading fun, not a church-goer, and somewhat disconnected from the community. He watches tv all evening every night. It makes me happy that he has -something- even if tv isn't the perfect ...friend?

I think everybody is just trying to get rid of their own mind-boo-boos. The US is connected and comfortable thanks to tv. We lost the "charm of distance", but it is a mental band-aid for people who can't find it elsewhere.

Where did I hear "charm of distance?" Was it you? Or somewhere else?

Posted by: wren_arf at October 10, 2008 2:33 AM

TV news (broadcast): producers decide what to produce. editors decide what to show. networks decide when to show it. personalities bloat until the medium (talking heads) truly does become the message.

TV entertainment (broadcast): lame.

TV was the great agent of homogenization in America. Think Seth Godin's "TV-Industrial Complex."

While re-runs of get Smart Wild Wild West Little Joe and Hoss Looney Tunes Hogan's Heros greeted my brothers and me after school while our single-parent mom was at work and I watched Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom every Sunday night ...

so what I'm saying here I have some warm fuzzies about TV ...

Nonetheless, I believe my children are more informed, more curious, more intellectually independent and just plain better off by living in a cable-less, dish-less, very nearly TV-less home.

Exception: we put the rabbit ears on the old TV so we could pick up the debates on broadcast TV.

As I was saying, I believe my children are better off to collect the news they want to collect, to go to sources of their own choosing; they are just as inclined to make entertainment as to consume entertainment; creativity is not reserved to disney and Warner brothers animators, Twilight Zone writers, network directors; you know what I'm saying....

Oprah's homage to her TV kin and homage to herself had no meaning for me. Yet I resist snarkiness.

Afterall, the Emmys are a closed system. Oprah, despite her XM channel and her O magazine, lives in the eternal braid of television purveyors and consumers... she herself is both.

When Oprah looks into the camera she is looking into a mirror. When her audience looks into television sets they are looking into a mirror. These loops braid together. Hofstader and Goedel, Escher and bach would revel in the recursion.

Posted by: Dennis Freire at October 11, 2008 12:36 AM

The lamely way she repetitively says the word "television" makes me think she's trying to sell televisions, rather than honor them.
The whole speech reminds me of an article I found about Ray Bradbury, where he describes "Farenheit 451" as not being solely about the destroying of books, but about the dumbing down of society by television. I remember descriptions in the book of rooms with entire walls of multiple screens. Oddly reminds me of rooms I'm seeing today.

Posted by: Stephanie at October 14, 2008 1:03 AM

The thing that I thought was strange was that Oprah was talking about the medium like it has a mind of its own. Imagine if you replaced the word "Television" with "Paint" or better yet, "Poop." It's not the poop that gives us words to live by, Oprah. It's the people who MAKE the poop. And, I guess, the people who WATCH the poop, and thus empower the poop-makers. We are all television poop-makers: We make the poop by watching it. So how can our own poop make us? It just doesn't make sense.

Another thing that seemed strange was the dreamy tone. I mean, isn't that whole TV thing over? Does anybody even WATCH television anymore?

Posted by: unbelievablycoolmom at October 16, 2008 2:02 AM

The thing that I thought was strange was that Oprah was talking about the medium like it has a mind of its own. Imagine if you replaced the word "Television" with "Paint" or better yet, "Poop." It's not the poop that gives us words to live by. It's the people who MAKE the poop. And, I guess, the people who WATCH the poop, thus empowering the means of poop production. We are all television poop-makers: We make the poop by watching it. So how can our own poop make us? It just doesn't make sense.

Another thing that seemed strange was the dreamy tone. I mean, isn't that whole TV thing over? Does anybody even WATCH television anymore?

Posted by: unbelievablycoolmom at October 16, 2008 2:13 AM

Television did not do any of those things. It was the people. Those in front of the cameras, operating the cameras, writing the scripts and editing the footage. It's always been about you and me.

Posted by: Awed Job at October 23, 2008 11:23 AM

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