John Howard endorses pre-emptive strikes; George W Bush is leading in US election polls; and Ariel Sharon has cut up the road map to peace and is using it to d?upage Israel’s barrier wall.
I don’t recall ever being more depressed by global affairs. It really is a scary time. But as tempting as it is to engage in a round of America-bashing, I prefer to surrender to the narcotic embrace of daytime television. It’s denial with ad breaks; a domestic refuge in times of uncertainty and Tony Abbott. And as a freelancer, I’ve become hopelessly addicted.
Of course, daytime TV is often American, so there’s a certain bittersweet tang. For every wonderfully trashy midday movie starring a former Charlie’s Angel, there’s Beyond With James Van Praagh, on which the host exploits the bereaved by pretending to chat with dead loved ones.
I won’t even start on Dr Phil and his grim parade of fucked-up families. Or Jerry Springer and his shameless freaks. These shows, repugnant as they are, at least make me feel grateful that my own dysfunction is positively third-rate. They also confirm my belief that daytime TV should be watched, but not listened to.
There is one exception, however, a daily burst of consumer sunshine and personal triumph. A place where even Alzheimer’s can be turned into a celebrity love-in. I’m talking, of course, about Oprah.
I love Oprah -“ fat Oprah, skinny Oprah, doesn’t matter. Every afternoon she enters to a deafening chorus of trained squeals and manages to look taken aback. Naturally, everyone in the audience is hoping she’ll be handing out Pontiacs, but even if they’re only offered a towel rack, they’re peeing themselves.
Oprah, who I like to think of as a thrillionaire, genuinely wants everyone to enjoy her absurd wealth -“ or at least feel better by basking in its glow for an hour. Even celebrity guests, themselves not short of a buck, are transformed into capitalist aspirants. It took a little girlfriend prodding, but eventually Cameron Diaz on her recent visit had to scream, as if she’d only just realised, Having money is awesome!
It was a breakthrough, for both Cameron and me. She learned that a $20 million-dollar pay cheque isn’t embarrassing; I learned that cynicism has no chance against well-intentioned American self-satisfaction. All I can say is: Oprah for President.