Monday, March 29, 2010

I Have Seen Oprah and You, My Friend, Are No Oprah

Actually, that’s not entirely true: I’ve never seen a full episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show. That’s not to say I have anything against Oprah; I’m just usually working when it’s on and I don’t have TiVo. But, that’s also not to say that I have not been affected firsthand by the Oprah Effect.

One day at the gym, I got on the elliptical to do my hour (which I always rationalize into a half hour) just as Oprah was ending. She dedicated the last five minutes of her show to raving about this novel that blew her mind. She said, "It's so engaging, so gripping, so epic, that I wanted absolutely everybody to share the joy of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle." And after that, apparently I wanted to share in her joy because, based solely on Oprah’s endorsement, I am the proud owner of a copy of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle- and I also bought one for a friend.

Oprah doesn’t have opinions. As soon as words leave her mouth, they become fact. If something makes Oprah’s favorites list, then it is unquestionably awesome. If she thinks that a strange, bald man should dictate the state of the nation’s mental health, then he will.

We, however, are not Oprah. Our opinions are simply opinions. Because our opinions are opinions, there are certain words we can eliminate from our writing.

For example, imagine you wrote to me

In my opinion, this book is wonderful.

I know that the book’s wonderfulness is your opinion. You’re not Oprah; just because you say something is wonderful doesn’t make it so. Therefore, you can eliminate the words in my opinion from your sentence and just write

This book is wonderful.

We can, therefore, also eliminate the words I think from our sentences.

I think these Rachel Pally sailor pants are awesome.

I know it’s what you think. You’re the one writing this, aren’t you? Just write

These Rachel Pally sailor pants are awesome.

I'll make up my mind about what I think of them.

What’s that? The sailor pants were on a list of Oprah’s favorite things? Oh, sorry, it’s official; they are awesome.


keppi baranick said...

This blog is wonderful. Jenny Baranick is awesome-fact!

tina said...


Zuly Landin said...

I could say that I'm very guilty of putting in unnecessary words in my phrases and papers, like I did just now,- I put "very" for no reason. I don't know why, but it seems like I just need to put these unnecessary words in to get my point across. As I'm being more educated in my english class, I am now practicing to not use unnecessary words.

Missed Periods said...

@ Zuly Landin

Not all unnecessary words are unnecessary. Sometimes we use words for emphasis or description even though we don't "need" them- kind of like wearing accessories. We just want to stay away from using too many words if they reduce the impact of our meaning or are redundant.

JoyceM said...

I love the good humor and fine understanding and explanation that runs through this blog! Thanks for it.

JoyceM said...

Grammar correction--I love the good humor and fine understanding and explanation that run through this blog! Thanks for them.