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Blog // Thoughts
July 1, 2005

Why Oprah Is Nuts And We Might All Be Nuts Too

No, I am not referring to Oprah’s recent claim to be Zulu but rather the media-assisted outrage at her alleged abuse at the hands of the Paris fashion house Hermes. It seem that Hermes committed the shameful crime of not letting Oprah in, after closing hours and many media outlets and websites assumed the only […]

No, I am not referring to Oprah’s recent claim to be Zulu but rather the media-assisted outrage at her alleged abuse at the hands of the Paris fashion house Hermes. It seem that Hermes committed the shameful crime of not letting Oprah in, after closing hours and many media outlets and websites assumed the only explanation could be racial discrimination (rather than the substantiated claim of a private event offerred by Hermes).

This brought to mind a very similar experience I had a few years back in London. I was looking to shop at the slightly less-than-upmarket electronics store, Dixons (OK, maybe not that similar, Hermes sells thousand-dollar scarves and Dixons sells cheap electronics, but bear with me). Arriving at my local outlet at what seemed to me to be five minutes before their six o’clock closing time. I found the front door locked. I knocked and a sales assistant walked over and advised that the store was closed. Pointing to the opening hours and then my watch I made it clear that the store seemed to have closed early. “What do you want,” said the clerk; “that scanner right there” I replied, pointing to a stack of boxes not ten feet from him. To underline my point I took one hundred pounds from my wallet and waived it around, “look, I even have cash.” The clerk paused then said, “by the time I ring it up it will be after six, come back tomorrow,” and then he walked off.

Now, I have enduring racial prejudice in my time, in fact racism was the defining motif of my adolescence. However, the incident with Dixons had nothing to do with racism. Call it laziness, bad luck or an extreme case of jobs-worth-ness if you like, but it was not racism. Naturally I was indignant with Dixons, but to claim it was racism would have been disingenious.

In the end we won’t really know what happened in Oprah’s case, partly because the story has now taken on a life of it’s own. But the way the web has lit up over this supposed slight is nuts and the fact that people get upset because a fabulously wealthy celebrity for once gets a door closed in her face is nuttier still (and perhaps this blogpost is the nuttiest thing of all).

Maybe we should save the outrage for the more proven and pernicious examples of racism that make it difficult for people to go about their everyday lives in peace, rather than the supposed slights that may, or may not have played a role in letting a very well paid media celebrity buy another luxury item.

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