It’s worth asking whether, directly or indirectly, President Obama was responsible for Oprah Winfrey’s Kennedy Center Honor.
Obama hosted a White House reception for Oprah and four other recipients Sunday, and then they all trekked over to the Kennedy Center for a gala event where they witnessed preening stars and wonderful performances.
Actually, I don’t know what a gala event exactly is, but this sounds like it’s it.
It’s arguable that, without her support, Obama would not be president.
There’s no evidence I’ve seen that either he or someone else who wants to reward her for her help assisted in her getting this prize. But, as the man with a mouth full of caviar said, something’s a little fishy.
The only problem with Oprah getting her award is that, although she’s widely perceived as an overall super-duper person, she hasn’t earned a Kennedy Center Honor. The awards are given to artists, and Oprah is not an artist, unless you consider self-promotion, making money, and public empathy art forms.
Oprah is the only person for at least the last ten years who is NOT an artist to be given a Kennedy Center Honor.
Here are the criteria for the awards, according to the Kennedy Center:
Since its inception in 1978, the Kennedy Center Honors has redefined America’s perception of its artistic legacy and reinvented the way this nation rewards its artists. The Honors have been compared to a knighthood in Britain, or the French Legion of Honor–the quintessential reward for a lifetime’s endeavor. At the same time, the annual addition of new names to the roster of Honors recipients charts the international standard of excellence set by America’s artists, as well as the aesthetic inspiration provided by artists of other nations who have achieved prominence on these shores.
And here is why the Kennedy Center said it bestowed and award on Oprah.
Regarded as one of the most influential performers in the world, Winfrey’s internationally syndicated daytime talk show has changed American television and made her one of the world’s wealthiest women.
Winfrey’s roots in rural Mississippi make her rise all the more extraordinary — after getting a full scholarship to college, she started out on a Chicago morning show in 1983. Her candid, confessional style was unprecedented, and her rise in the ratings was fast.
Winfrey’s show airs every day, and its focus has shifted over the past decade to wellness, spirituality, and life improvement. She announced in 2010 that she will retire from television in the fall of 2011.
Any art doings here? Not that I can see. Indeed, she has made herself one of the “world’s wealthiest women.” So, perhaps making money is now an art form.
It has been estimated that Oprah’s endorsement of Obama over Hillary Clinton was worth over a million Democratic primary votes to him, and that without it Clinton would have been the nominee.
She not only endorsed him, she put him on her show, she campaigned for him, and she promoted his book and sent it to # 1 on Amazon. And her backing helped spur people to donate to his campaign
And he’ll need her in 2012, to be sure.
So what do you give a gal who has everything?
A Kennedy Center Honor.
BTW, a tip of the hat to one of our readers, JE, who got me thinking by noting that Oprah was probably responsible for Obama’s election.