Ryan Chartrand

Earth has had a pretty good week, but it has had better. On Sunday, revelers showed their appreciation for the Earth’s handiwork by partaking of a certain mind-altering leafy substance and on Tuesday, people showed their respect for the biosphere by reprimanding litterbugs as they attempted to toss empty bottles into trash cans. But don’t pat yourselves on the back quite yet, Earthlings.

You may feel like you have done your part to save the planet from the evils of global warming, but what have you done to save it from Oprah Winfrey? (Hint: If you have no idea what I’m talking about, the answer is “No.”) There are more than a few eerie similarities between the two besides identical syllabic emphasis.

Infiltration occurs in stages.

Just as a few years ago we scarcely heard the term “global warming” so has the ubiquity of Oprah Winfrey proliferated into every part of our lives: TV, radio, literature and merchandise. Slowly, she went from obscurity to celebrity, and like the thinning ozone, she’s trying to spread her sphere of influence to even the remotest parts of the world.

Some people are still in denial.

It may be an “inconvenient truth,” but Oprah pretty much controls the world. Even if you don’t mean to, chances are, you’ve been a victim of cultural “O-ppression.” Sure, she does lots of great things, like increase literacy and properly fitting lingerie, but with one snap of her fingers, she has the ability to turn on even her “Friends” (like she did with James Frey and Dr. Phil).

Many celebrities have gotten involved.

To commemorate Earth Day, Oprah wrangled Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock and none other than Al Gore to demonstrate how to encourage sustainability and environmental conscientiousness. Leonardo DiCaprio must have been booked.

The harm will be more extensive and will happen sooner than we think.

We are already experiencing the negative effects of global warming in the form of erratic weather patterns and melting icebergs, and experts warn that more is to come. Just this year, Oprah introduced yet another facet of her power with her plans to launch her own network. At this point, it may be impossible to stop the “O-nertia” created by her culture empire.

There is something you can do about it.

You can use reusable bags and stop driving to school, but none of it will do a thing to prevent Oprah from making us dream of getting our homes decorated by Nate Berkuss and our wardrobes revamped by Stacey London. While we should continue our waste-free habits, we should perhaps rethink our reliance on Oprah to get all of our information about health, politics, arts and culture. She does know how to pick good books, though.

Note: I have no qualms with the great Oprah Winfrey, I’m simply wary of anyone who has such an incredible influence on what Americans wear, read, listen to, watch and even who we vote for. In fact, I subscribe to her magazine (it’s really a great publication) and admit to watching her show on occasion. All I’m trying to point out is that pop culture dictators become detrimental when they undermine our own ability to find things we care about on our own. I agree that sometimes we need a few nudges to get us in the right direction (I guess that’s what I’m supposed to be here for), but no one should rely on any single source for their information. But my point may be moot because after all, you’re Cal Poly students – you probably already knew that.

Allison Baker is an English senior, pop-culture enthusiast and Mustang Daily columnist.

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