I’m sure I wasn’t the only woman who got goosebumps upon hearing the climax of Oprah Winfrey’s acceptance speech at the 2018 Golden Globes. Met with a standing ovation from her fellow Hollywood elites, Oprah proclaimed: “for too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up.” From the moment the applause ended and the attendees returned to their seats, whisperings of an Oprah 2020 campaign were in the air.
Accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement, Oprah delivered a rousing call to action to stand against inequality and abuse in Hollywood and beyond. Speaking with an unmistakable presidential-like undertone, it was as if she lit a spark of hope in everyone who listened.
But just how capable is the actor, author, entrepreneur, and humanitarian of running for office, just based off of one impassioned speech?
While many have scoffed at the sight of a wealthy Hollywood star trying to make a difference, it is important to remember the profound effect that actions like Oprah’s can have. Calling for change in Hollywood should not be simply disregarded as a fantasy, far distant from our own reality. Oprah’s speech has the potential to be impactful, as pop culture feeds into our daily reality, influencing us all, whether we notice it or not.
Throughout her speech, Oprah demonstrated her capability to change minds by expressing her ideas in a personal, thought-provoking way. She shows her ability to inspire others, particularly young girls, as she announces that she has become the first black woman to receive the award. All of these aspects result in a powerful message to encourage change, with Oprah sounding like a leader in the making.
Although all of the media buzz around her speech has ignited fierce discussion, it still remains to be seen how Oprah plans to make her dreams of a utopian society a reality. With no experience in policy-making or law enforcement, how could a woman famous for giving out an abundance of prizes on TV know how to govern? She may have about as much political experience as the current President of the United States, but that does not necessarily mean that Oprah is qualified to run for office. However, this fact has not stopped her from gathering support.
It is clear from the tear-stained faces of the actors and actresses at the event that Oprah knows how to captivate an audience. The ability to hold one’s attention is a necessary skill for a political leader in order to convince government allies of your views, as well as potential voters.
Oprah connects with ordinary people many times during her speech. She relates to everyday people by referring to the “domestic workers and farm workers,” as well as many others who are not in the spotlight, yet who have also endured years of sexual assault.
Despite this attempt at inclusion, blue collar workers may still view her as part of the problem, just another corrupt liberal who would steal from the poor to give to the rich. She might just be too far above middle class America to ever really connect with the people whose votes she would rely on.
Her illustrious career, on-screen, and off, may not do much to win the respect of world leaders who have devoted their lives to politics alone, but you have to admire her ambition.
Having been born into poverty and now named by Forbes as the richest African-American person in the world, Oprah is undoubtedly an inspirational figure. As a talk show host, and most recently during her Golden Globes speech, she did what heads of state do best: she gave hope to millions of people that things can and will get better. However, providing hope is not the same as actively working to abolish injustice. Oprah’s years of experience in using her words do not hold up against her lack of action.
The current media frenzy and wild speculation has sparked the debate: will she or won’t she? Yet nothing has actually been confirmed by the woman herself. Although there are clearly many differences between Oprah and President Trump – Oprah has less of a history of racism and misogyny and a less active Twitter account, for example – there are also a number of similarities. Both Oprah and Trump are inexperienced celebrity figures without an iota of training in running a country.
These celebrity candidates take away the chance for up-and-coming senators and well-established government officials alike to try and solve America’s problems and potentially do a better job. Regardless, until a website is up and running and freshly printed signs appear on lawns across America, the Oprah 2020 campaign remains to be just harmless hearsay.
Even though, at this point, it is just a rumour not worth getting up in arms about, it is still important, if only to remind us not to repeat past mistakes in electing an unqualified individual into the White House. Still, I believe Oprah was right when she declared that phenomenal men and women today will bring about change by “fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘me too’ again.”