Friday, January 29, 2010

Why 94% of Oprah Fans Hate Leno

I did something yesterday that I haven't done in five or six years, something I'm not proud of: I watched Oprah. I have nothing against Oprah, I've just had enough. That happens sometimes with people. You get a big dose of them for awhile and then you just don't want them anymore. Like Halloween candy. You gorge yourself on it, vomit, and then can't look at candy for quite some time. Oprah's like candy vomit to me.
But yesterday she had on Jay Leno, a person I also don't watch on the television. I thought, this is the perfect storm of two humans I don't care at all about talking about an issue (Conan, the Tonight Show, NBC, backstabbing) that became a train wreck. I have been watching the train wreck. How could I not? It played out in slo-motion, crashing over the course of weeks from the time Leno's 10pm show got axed by NBC, to NBC making every single disastrous decision on how to make the train wreck worse (set it on fire! plunge it down a ravine! fill it with red-headed orphans who want more pudding!).
As someone who follows pop culture solely because I love the diversion from reality, the Conan-Leno (and by extension, Letterman, Ferguson, and Kimmel) power struggle/feud/fight over The Tonight Show desk was completely unprecedented. Even when Leno stole the show from Letterman back in the early 90s, the viewing public was only aware of some behind the scenes deal making and back stabbing. We weren't privy to the actual demonic butterflies conjured by Leno to beat their wings into plough shares, that Leno then forged into daggers to slay his enemies. Then, a lot was left up to speculation.
But, NOW, everything has played out right before our very eyes. And Oprah wants in on all of the attention. So, she went on Leno's set out in LA, and interviewed him. Leno looked like a man defeated. His eyes were puffy and saggy, his mouth downturned, even when he attempted to make one of his patently unfunny quips, he couldn't muster a smirk. Is it because in this battle the public, and a lot of celebrities, have chosen sides? And they chose team Conan? Oprah was really at a lose as to why a majority of respondents on her website (94%) were backing Conan. Doesn't America love the safe, unfunny humor dished up by Leno? His softball style of interviewing guests? Has America grown weary of bland pablum and want some hot sauce tossed on their pablum?
Despite Oprah, and Leno, claiming that the American public just doesn't understand how television works, the bigger issue that these two don't understand is that the viewing public needs to have a certain perception about the people were tuning in to watch. One thing is trust. Trust isn't everything, but it is something. Which means that we demand a honest quality. Take Ellen Degeneres for example. Her talk show is wildly popular across all demographics, young, old, gay, straight, republican, democrat, independent, religious, nonreligious...people like her, and trust her. You know why? Because she's honest about who she is. At this point in Leno's career he no longer comes off as the semi-funny (I'm being kind) doofy class clown you went to school with. His likability has been pummeled, and he comes off as a meglomaniacal bully. Oprah, giving another, more watched, pulpit for him to whine and bully from makes her come off as a detattatched from reality uber rich...fool, I guess, is the word I'm looking for.
Anyway, that's my take on the whole debacle. I don't expect Leno to be #1 again on The Tonight Show, and I hope that Conan gets another gig. As for me, I watch Letterman. Sure, he's an asshat, but he's never tried to hide that from us, has he?

14 comments:

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Julie said...

So, given the opportunity to tell his side of the story, Leno was unable to come up with anything that would make him sound less dickish?

I didn't see the promo for that Oprah show until after it had already aired (I taped something else). I wondered if I had missed anything. Heh. I should know better by now.

The format of Oprah's show guarantees only the shallowest possible coverage of any given issue. Combine that with Leno, and I guess you can expect a double-helping of that feeling you get awhile after eating Chinese food.

As for Oprah being out of touch: Not too long ago my cousin sent me a video of Oprah touring a "typical home" in Denmark, which turned out to be actually a small, but very modern, upscale, not-at-all-typical city apartment.

But Oprah was SHOCKED by the small size of the kids' room. I was shocked by her shock. The room size was small, but not unusually so for a kids' room in a small city apartment. She must not get out much.

I've also heard her refer to her vagina (actually I am pretty sure she meant "vulva") as "va-jay-jay."

jennifer from pittsburgh said...

Julie - Being rich and powerful often has the undesired (or desired, who knows?) effect of making you completely out of touch with what is actually happening. Leno came off that way on Oprah, and Oprah doubly so. Maybe they see themselves as trusted brands, like Tylenol or Toyota, and who doesn't want to trust a well marketed trusted brand worth boatloads of money, right? So what if the gas pedal sticks and it's made of poison. It's trusted! Or, kind of like what a Bush staffer said around the time the Iraq war started: We're an empire now, and when we act, we create own reality.
I think in a way we'd all like to create our own reality, but to do it for reals means that you have nothing that is real within that reality. This might be why man always creates god(s).

Julie said...

I think they both earned a certain amount of credibility at one time, especially Oprah, then put too much faith in their own credibility and took it for granted.

Now that credibility has stagnated, but no one has the nerve to break the bad news to them in blunt terms. Or perhaps people try, but because they lack Oprah-levels of credibility themselves, Oprah and Leno don't believe them.

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Phoenix said...

Leno has come out of this looking like a douchebag... so has the entire NBC network.

We also like Ellen and other cool hosts because they have learned to negotiate their contracts and time slots gracefully, graciously, and behind closed doors. Leno could take some serious notes.

jennifer from pittsburgh said...

Phoen - I agree, Leno and NBC have really damaged their images over this escapade. Don't know how, or if, they'll recover.

H said...

I'm just surprised that Leno doesn't "get it." I've enjoyed watching him in the past, but when he says he's retiring...he should DO IT! He shouldn't turn over the reins and then take them back.

Jay Leno should retire gracefully. He could appear as an occasional guest...or guest host. He could also tour the country as a lecturer (much like Bill Cosby...). It's just wrong for him to go back to his Tonight Show gig!

I've already written to NBC to share my thoughts and to inform them of my refusal to watch Leno on The Tonight Show.

I've already boycotted his 10:00 show (in the recent past), because many of my friends are working actors who rely on that 10:00 prime time slot for work.

Well...I'm behind, once again, on reading your blog, Jennifer, but just feel like adding my "two cents" on this one. ;-)

jennifer from pittsburgh said...

H- I'm behind on writing my blog, so we're both up to speed ;)
I give Leno credit for being able to make fun of himself on the Late Show promo on last night's Super Bowl, but I still won't ever watch him by choice again.

largo said...

if you hate Leno, check this out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvarVaP79HQ

Leno as Scrooge McDuck

jennifer from pittsburgh said...

Largo - How dare you besmirch the character of McDuck with your comaprison!!!! Hmm, I like that typo. Coma Prison. Nothing sums up pop culture quite so succinctly.

victoria.renee said...

gawwwd i watched that terrible episode too. why did oprah have to come out and say she didn't know why people were against leno? wasn't it obvious?!?

signed,

i hate oprah. and leno too.

jennifer from pittsburgh said...

Vic.Ren- The ONLY thing that is obvious to Oprah is that we should all follow her lead and not ask a damn thing.