I happen to like you. I think your show brings a lot of good and important subjects to light. I appreciate how much you've given back to the world with your time, money and resources. And I think for someone with your influence and wealth, you've managed to keep your head on pretty straight. That said, I have a bone to pick with you. (You knew I was leading up to something, right?)
It was all good until I sat down one night to watch your show, which my DVR records faithfully each day while I slave away at the office. The show opened with an intriguing panel of people who claim to have The Secret to life. I must admit, I got a little nervous. After all, it was February, which means it was sweeps month and all of TV gets a little bit crazy during sweeps months (Meredith Grey even died for a moment on "Grey's Anatomy"! Crazy.)
I fast-forwarded through the commercials and got back to business. The panelists described The Secret in their own words. According to Rhonda Byrne, who wrote the book (and now it's a movie, too), this is it: The principle that "like attracts like... The principle explains that we create our own circumstances by the choices we make in life. And the choices we make are fueled by our thoughts -- which means our thoughts are the most powerful things we have here on earth."
Oprah, my friend, this is so not a Secret. This is the basis for most religions. All self-help books. And a lot of "Dr. Phil" episodes. Remember him? The author's bio for "The Secret" even acknowledges that "the concepts could be found in almost every religion and field of human endeavor throughout history." Whether or not Ms. Bryne thinks it was a Secret, you, Oprah, must realize that it's not. At least half the "lightbulb moments" discussed on your show are based on this Secret.
But you let those panelists sit there and act like this was the most fascinating news they'd ever heard. Life changing. Women got up and "testified" to how the Secret changed their lives. I sat on the couch, perplexed and disappointed.
It's certainly catchy, calling it a Secret. Ripe for sweeps month and apparently a ratings bonanza, since you covered the topic a second time during the same month. I'm not questioning whether it's a legitimate topic; I'm sure it is. Just as I'm sure there were viewers reminded of the importance of the "power of positive thinking." Oh yeah, Oprah, that's what Norman Vincent Peale called it back in 1952 when he wrote his bestselling book on the very same subject.
There are way too many important topics for you to be lending credibility to someone who simply regurgitated the values and concepts of what already exists in so many bigger, more important forms. It's a great topic. But a Secret, it is not.
Thanks for your time. Say hello to Gail for me. I really liked her Oscar dress!
Amy S. is a married, working mom to Olivia, and plans to one day retire, write a book and become a famous photographer.