Articles

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Oprahism and the Church of Obama

(I wrote this article quite a few years ago. I feel that it's relevant now in light of the Oprah for President movement.)

Obama's political success was built on his ability to invoke values detached from belief systems. To break away symbols and ideals from religious and national value systems, and mix and match them into his own sound bites. Like the famous Hope poster, that mixed patriotic color schemes with socialist realism, or his own speeches which invoked the Founders in support of socialism.

The Obama wave was piggybacking on a culture where context had ceased to matter. Obama's image had more in common with the way hip hop artists sample songs, than with a symphony. His campaign was the perfect trailer to a movie that would never be released. It was the marriage of corporate advertising campaigns, pop culture, radical politics and Americana-- thrown together in a pot and boiled into one indecipherable mix that was appealing, and yet completely void of meaning.

Obama kept on saying very little of substance, yet entertaining his audiences. His speeches called up spirituality devoid of religion, Americana devoid of patriotism and ideals devoid of ideas. He appropriated them all and used them as props in his show.

His obvious inspiration for this was not Jeremiah Wright, who did provide plenty of textual inspiration, but Oprah herself. Oprah's success lay in marketing that same diffuse spirituality, not grounded in any actual belief system. Instead what she offered was an endless self-centered buffet, spirituality as self-empowerment, with herself and her chosen gurus as the center of a new commercial belief system.

Obama echoed that same self-centered appeal, telling audiences, "We are the ones we have been waiting for", a quote from one of Oprah's favorite authors, and appealing to their own search for meaning. A favorite Oprah theme. The search for meaning is a common enough crutch for the narcissist, who wants fulfillment on his or her own terms, rather than commitment. Oprah has been catering to her audiences' endless search for meaning. Obama was just the latest of those gurus.

The implicit subtext of the commercial search for meaning is that the meaning itself can never be found, but searching for it is what makes you a better person. That search for meaning as identity defines Oprah, it also defined Obama, who turned that into his own brand with two separate books chronicling his search for meaning, as his identity.

Obama had daringly sold his journey as America's journey, encouraging voters to not only identify personally with him, but to position his own background as the embodiment of America. Rather than identifying with Americans, he expected them to identify with him. Structuring his campaign as a journey, he spoke to the need for drama by the detached and disaffected. People who were too busy looking for meaning, to understand that meaning cannot be detached from the larger religious and cultural ideas that define civilization.

Yet that was exactly what Obama appeared to offer, context free ideas, faith without religion, hope without anything tangible to actually hope for.

If Oprah offered fast-food meaning on television, Obama offered fast-food solutions in politics. Paying for it was never an issue. Consequences were off the table as well. By clothing a self-centered appeal in altruistic clothing, people felt they were engaging in self-improvement, when they were only being manipulated by professional egotists.

Oprah and Obama shared broken families and a profound greed and resentment that they learned to disguise professionally as empathy and ambition. By channeling the resentments of others, they could get what they wanted, without appearing harsh or abrasive. By selling other people on answers they did not believe in themselves, they could position themselves as spiritual leaders, without the fuss and limitations of organized religions, written creeds and higher deities. Instead they marketed their own life stories as a form of spirituality, convincing their followers to become invested in their success. Their own achievements were no longer personal, but national and global.

Self-realization as religion is a self-indulgent faith, which is what makes it both hollow and appealing. It begins with religion as therapy, and ends with therapy as religion. It borrows religious metaphors, while discarding their meaning. That is the faith that Oprah and Obama have successfully sold millions on. A vaporous hope and faith, with nothing standing behind them. Both came with an innate understanding of the profound weakness of their followers in a post-modern age. They copied the templates of the intersection of religion and entertainment, removing any gods from the equation, and leaving behind personal narratives, feel-good cleaning rituals and of course, money.

Yet there is a larger problem behind Obama and Oprah, the problem of a culture that neglect context, and instead favors short-term entertainment. The Obama Administration may go down as the most expensive public entertainment in American history. And the same empty yearning, which Obama exploited so very well, will still be there.

There is a hole in our culture, and it is there because the verities that once defined us have been marginalized. Religion and national identity are relentlessly mocked by the same media culture that has usurped their place, with its own replacements like Oprah. What once provided meaning to people, lies by the wayside. And instead people search for personal fragmented meanings, for happiness and self-realization, when the search itself represents a denial of the mature commitments that make happiness and self-realization possible. Behind that fragmentation is a culture at loss to understand its own identity filled with lonely individuals looking for something to hang on to, and predators whose own identities come from gaining their confidence, and preying on them.

The left has always understood that it can only succeed by replacing religion and nationalism, either through direct assault, or by dressing their own ideas up in mock nationalistic and religious colors. The left was never atheistic. Its religion was government, its functionaries and doctrines were its priests and its creed. And its depredations have left behind a West with a wounded soul.

It is not only the likes of Oprah and Obama who know how to exploit that wound. There are far worse predators drawing closer to the campfire. Islam is preparing to engulf a Europe that has turned its back on its own values. What predators will come for America in the night is still an open question. With Obama, we have seen the first ugly glimmer of what may be coming. But unless America reclaims its soul, worse predators drawn by the blood of a wounded culture will come.

17 comments:

Mr. Cohen said...

Daniel Greenfield said:

“The Obama wave was piggybacking on a
culture where context had ceased to matter.”

my personal response:

I must applaud this brief-but-brilliant comment.
Despite possessing a 130 IQ, I never would have thought of this by myself.

But now that Daniel Greenfield has said it, it is very helpful in explaining the way Leftists think, and also explaining why Israel’s reputation suffers severely from Leftist propaganda.
_________________________

Daniel Greenfield said:

“Obama kept on saying very little of substance, yet entertaining his audiences. His speeches called up spirituality devoid of religion, Americana devoid of patriotism and ideals devoid of ideas.”

my personal response:
Another brief-but-brilliant comment from Daniel Greenfield!
_________________________

Since Reform Jews, especially their top leaders, ally themselves with the Israel-hating Far-Left, it is very appropriate to publicize these short blog articles that expose the truth about Reform Judaism:
_________________________
Rambam vs. Reform Judaism:
https://shilohmusings.blogspot.com/2017/11/rambam-vs-reform-judaism.html
_________________________
How a Reform Rabbi Became Orthodox (true story):
http://shilohmusings.blogspot.com/2016/07/how-did-reform-rabbi-become-
orthodox-jew.html
_________________________
Reform Judaism vs. Real Judaism:
http://shilohmusings.blogspot.com/2016/05/guest-post-real-judaism.html
_________________________
Sephardic Jews REJECT Reform Judaism:
https://shilohmusings.blogspot.com/2017/07/sephardim-reject-reform.html
_________________________
How Reform Jews CHEATED on the Pew survey:
http://shilohmusings.blogspot.com/2016/06/reform-jews-cheated-pew-survey.html
_________________________
Last but not least, the Reform Jews strongly opposed efforts to save European Jews from the Holocaust during World War II. Those rescue efforts were led by Orthodox Jews, who the Reform Jews considered to be behind-the-times and obsolete and an embarrassment. The Reform Jews got what they wanted: the rescue efforts failed.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

This is perhaps the best definition of the Obama effect I have ever read. Well Done, Sir!

Anonymous said...

Very good as usual BUT her name is ORCA not OPRAH

Infidel said...

Quite impressive, for having been written years ago. I can't stand either one of them, so I never heard more than a few seconds of either before I changed the channel. Maybe I did listen to Oprah for a few minutes once, not sure.

Strangely enough, regarding the male, I can see through his cons instantaneously for some reason, at least that they are cons and their immediate object, though maybe not the deeper objects. Knew a lot of guys like that in high school, that's probably why I can see through it.

Anonymous said...

You are BRILLIANT as usual. I'm beginning to count on your expertise at deciphering life as much as I depend on Rush to explain liberalism. I only wish my extended liberal family members could read this without apoplexy. Sadly, it'll never happen.

Dennis Latham said...

I just watched Ken Blackwell on MSNBC on a video, a black Republican I know because one of my good friends worked for him. I've always thought he was an honest politician, one of the first I've ever seen. The reporter hounded him about the President's remarks about shithole countries in a private conversation. Blackwell reminded her it was alleged remarks and referred to when Obama called Libya a shithole and no one batted an eye. The reporter mumbled something about that was the past, which is the Liberal answer to everything. He corrected her each time she tried to feed baloney into the interview. They probably won't have him back. There are Liberals in this country who are so brainwashed that, even though they have no answers for how they were hoodwinked, will defend their adverse behavior to the grave. They are Lemmings with no answer marching to the sea. Pelosi said a 1000 dollar bonus at work is mere crumbs. She is the perfect Obama and Oprah foil. Wrong on everything, entitled, blaming everyone else and never having to explain because they can't explain that they were had in some sick scheme to destroy the country. They have to run with it or implode like Hollywood. I knew Oprah was full of baloney years ago when she pushed Bridges of Madison County as a good book. She was all about charging the publisher money. The book sucked and the movie was worse. Same with Obama and Oprah. Their books suck and their life movie is worse.

Unknown said...

WOW, what insight. As I read thru this, Oprah as POTUS kept bubbling in the caldron of my mind. She has a LOT on her side from the far left view: Woman, Black, Billionaire. That makes here a near perfect counter to Tump in their eyes. If you think Obama worked in secret wait till Oprah gets elected.

Unknown said...

Bingo, and well put. People say Trump stands for Trump and they call it Trumpism. Maybe so, then so too about Obama and we should have called it Obamaism. The difference is when you scratch below the surface of Trump you get a American patriot. Scratch below the surface of Obama and Obamaism and you get a Marxist socialist.

You said Obama and Oprah are resentful and greedy. I see the greed in Obama through the way he used to have lavish vacations and parties at the White House on the peoples dime. I see the resentment in Obama too through the way he derides success. I'm not seeing the greed in Oprah, and only the remnant of resentment, could you maybe expand on those points at some time a little more?

Greg Smith said...

Brilliant writing, Daniel. O and O have mastered the art of rubbing the wound raw and promising solutions which never seem to cure but always seem to help them. Keep it up!

Pray Hard said...

Obama was like a Chinese pianist playing Rachmaninoff, perfect technique, no comprehension. He was the perfect Muschurian Candidate, had all the right moves and the smile, but not really a blooded American, surfing on a wave of deceit right into the White House.

Anonymous said...

Well said!

교수님 David McGinley said...

Daniel, what Obama, Oprah et al., are selling is a false redemption. It is obtained by confessing the sins of others, rationalizing your own, and partaking in the sacraments of political correctness.

Anonymous said...

Hollowed out ‘religionists’ in no particular order are:
Jesuits (current Pope’s Catholic branch): They believe Jesus, the man, was some ’Homo Antecessor’ of Karl Marx.
Democrats: Endowed by their ideology to rule over the world.
Zuckerberg: He thinks Fakebook is a church, which would make him Pope.
Bezos: Looking for a planet other than Earth to rule. At least this guy hits the gym often.

Anonymous said...

Always a pleasure to read your articles, Mr. Greenfield.

Thank you.

Sammish said...

Obama, although, a shrewd and naive politician was a product of its own identity politics and the all powerful ideology of the now defunct civil rights (black) movement. And yet because he was the first black president to be elected he acted as a celebrity - not of the like of corrupt, politically correct and sexually deprived Hollywood - but of that celebrity as the "cause celebre" actor who simply couldn't bear the thought of alternative paradigms besides the all major leftist politics. Maybe also because of his political naivety he couldn't understand why he wouldn't be able of going all the way his supposedly leftist and this totalitarian agenda and his half baked policy implimentations. If it was not for some perennial politicians and knowledgeable voters and advocacy groups he would have had his days. He wanted to have it both ways.

I am worried about the insidious trend towards celebrity politicians - and for whom Oprah would stand as a queen of Sheeba- those spoiled headed tendum with Obama has been well documented - not as an American dream come true based on America's overwhelming open society, but as an overwhelming discourse of struggle against inequalities and gender and sexual orientation politics. When are they going to wake up from this ideological myopia? I guess they are stuck in the sea of the old soviet mud of international politics that produced the worse dictators. And those morphing qualities into an Islamic identity politics are now entrenched in Iran, Gaza, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, and will soon would be emerging in the nascent political parties in the E.U countries. God help us.

Anonymous said...

What I call the Oprah Effect: we made her a billionaire so she can hop on her private jet and fly to Switzerland to buy a $40,000 handbag. And still she complains about being a victim of racism.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the best articles I have read in a long time and it explains a lot of what I felt but couldn't articulate..... It is on point! Essentially, Oprah and Obama are empty shells, full of nothing but their egos! Thank you for exposing them for what they are. Carolan

Post a Comment