Oprah as a religious icon
Kathryn Lofton is an assistant professor of American Studies and Religious Studies at Yale and her first book represents a perfect fusion of those two disciplines. The American talk show host Oprah Winfrey, she says, provides a brilliant and telling picture of what religion looks like in 21st century America. Her thesis is simple: Oprah has become a cultural phenomenon because she has fused religious idiom, consumerism and celebrity obsession to forge a terrifyingly potent global brand, one that is as much a religion as it is a corporate entity.
Yes, it’s the sort of thesis that has you reaching for your pistol. And yes, in places the book’s language recalls the worst excesses of pop culture studies. More than once, it reminded me of Slayage, the hilarious – and apparently peer-reviewed – “journal of Buffology” (that’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer Studies to you and me).
But here’s the thing: it’s actually really difficult to know what, in 50 or 100 years, will be considered culturally significant.
- Milo Yiannopoulos
Oprah: America’s most powerful religious leader (Catholic Herald)
Oprah: Gospel of an Icon
By Kathryn Lofton
University of California Press, £15.95