We don’t have cable (or even rabbit ears) so I’m many years behind in my television viewing but my mom periodically updates me on the programs she watches, especially the Oprah Winfrey Show. As far as television shows go, I think Oprah’s is one of the more palatable ones. I like Oprah. I think she’s an intelligent, caring, motivated woman who is working hard to achieve great things in life. As celebrities go, I believe she uses her powers predominantly for good and that she tries to share her values and beliefs with her audience. However, she has also drifted into the high ranks of the rich and famous and seems pretty disconnected from masses that form her fan base. She went on a road trip last summer and it was revealed that she doesn’t even know how to pump gas. Come on!
Anyway, sometime I dream of a life of riches and celebrity and I figure my best shot for television glory is to be featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Perhaps I could replace the tiny stylish woman who currently pimps green living tips on the show. People could ooh and ah at my stories about driving a greasecar or feeding my table scraps to my worms. They would shudder at the idea of conserving water by flushing less frequently. Oprah would listen respectfully and applaud my efforts while reassuring her audience that pee certainly wouldn’t be allowed to linger in HER household. Washing and reusing ziplock bags? Yes. Cutting back on hot showers? No. Using cloth toilet paper? I can only imagine her look of horror.
However, I like to picture myself captivating the audience with my tales of green living and voluntary simplicity. In my moment of glory, I would like to turn to the audience and encourage them that the best thing they can do for the environment and their personal well-being would be to turn off their televisions. Yes, even the Oprah Winfrey Show. Instead, go out into the world and interact with your neighbors. Find out more about the millions of opportunities out there for making a difference. Start paying attention to the way you live your life – everything from where your food comes from to how you interact with strangers. It would be a powerful transformation.
Alas, I don’t think my message would be heard. Television is a great medium for entertainment and flash but it’s amazingly hard to get across substance and depth. Can I really condense my way of life into a ten-second sound bite? Will a few minutes of videotaped footage of my home reveal the choices I make? Is there any way to actually connect with people and have them feel what I feel?
Of course, the upside of television is that it reaches millions of people so even if I only convince 0.01% of the audience to reexamine their lives, that would still be tens of thousands of people. And that’s why I still love the idea of being on Oprah. Well, that and the free gifts she gives out. And perhaps we could become part of her vast network of TV, radio, magazines, books, and websites along with lowimpactliving.com (which actually seems pretty cool).