We’ll admit it. Sometimes when we’re watching Oprah’s Ultimate Favorite Things episode, we get so excited we start speaking in tongues. According to Yale professor Kathryn Lofton, when it comes to Oprah Winfrey, religious figure might not be too far off. According to Lofton, Winfrey is similar to a religious icon in that she employs a sermon-like structure in her show, uses speech patterns similar to preachers, and offers a cohesive message, or gospel, to her followers. Then again, nobody actually thinks Mr. Winfrey can walk on water. Unless she’s been saving it for the show’s finale. In which case, brava for saving the best for last.
All joking aside, there is cultural significance in the fact that millions of viewers find meaning in the talk show host’s message of self-esteem and hope, including those fans begging Oprah to save soap operas from their untimely fate. “Gospel is a word that means ‘good news,’ ” Lofton explained. “Oprah says that the good news is ‘you.’” Think about it: if I described a religious figure who teaches people hope, gives stuff away, and has great hair and sandals, who do you immediately think of? Throw in a best friend named Gayle, and we are looking at Jesus 2.0 here.
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