Oprah Winfrey is getting at least one lump of coal in her Christmas stocking this year – from Bill Maher!
In a videotaped “Christmas message” he posted on the homepage of his personal Web site, the tart-tongued funnyman slams the all-powerful Queen of All Media for her recent “Favorite Things” broadcasts. Maher says these grand annual gift giveaways – most recently bestowed over two back-to-back episodes of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” last month – help promote a culture of “greed” that represents all that “is so rotten about this country.”
Maher called the “Favorite Things” shows “deeply disturbing” for the hysterics Oprah’s audience members displayed when they learned they would each be the recipient of a truckload (or more) of lavish presents – including a Caribbean cruise, a 2012 Volkswagen Beetle, jewelry, TV sets, cameras, sweaters, books, CDs and more.
“I saw one of the most deeply disturbing things I’ve ever seen on television last month,” Maher says in the video, which included ample clips of the Oprah audience’s over-the-top reactions from last month’s shows.
“How could you look at this and not immediately know what, at the core, is so rotten about this country? This is our real religion – greed,” asks Maher, who is openly non-religious. “People pretend to go nuts for Jesus, but I don’t know … ,” he says as clips of people winning money from game shows and lotteries were shown.
“Those people at ‘Oprah’ really are [expletive deleted] in their pants over getting 3-D television sets,” he says. “This is why everything in America gets sucked down a hole because what people really value is acquiring crap.”
He then directs his ire at Oprah. “Oprah’s show purports to be a lot about spirituality,” Maher says. “If it was, then wouldn’t she tell her worshipping flock to sit down and stop losing your [minds] over material stuff? As for me, I don’t really know what spirituality means, but I know if you’re weeping over a sweater, you don’t either.”
Maher delivers his diatribe with no hint that he’s kidding. Nor is there any explanation for why he decided to take on a figure as beloved and powerful as Oprah Winfrey. Certainly, he’s savvy enough to realize he’d reap a publicity bonanza from criticizing someone who doesn’t get criticized all that often. The ninth season of his HBO show, “Real Time with Bill Maher,” premieres Jan. 14.
There was no reaction yet from Oprah Winfrey about Maher’s critique of her “Favorite Things” shows. At the conclusion of last month’s giveaway, Oprah explained why she staged these annual events on her daytime show, which is now in its final season. Said she, “For me, it’s really about hope. It’s about knowing that something really magical and joyful and wonderful can happen to you when you least expect it.”
So how about it? Should Bill Maher just lighten up and stop raining on Oprah’s parade? After all, what harm is there in giving out a bunch of elaborate presents to people on a TV show? What’s it to him? On the other hand, does Bill have a point about the giveaways, and what they say about greed and materialism in America?
Watch Bill Maher’s Message to Oprah Winfrey