Friday, November 11, 2005

Court is in session, Judge O presiding

We have all heard of "the court of public opinion" and we may know some folks who have been tried there. But how many of us will be tried in the court of O? Not many, and unless we suddenly wake up to find ourselves enodowed with fame and fortune, we won't be.

The Oprah Show is where celebs go to have their cases tried. I said as much to a friend and she was able to break down that parallels between the show's set up and the judicial system, with psychiatrists functioning as expert witnesses.

Most of these cases involve the dissolution of a marriage, and most of the people who show up in court are female. Halle went. Uma had a court date. Jennifer Anniston went there to proclaim her newfound joy. I think Halle got off easier than Uma, but then again Halle is Oprah's friend after all. And I am constantly amazed at the questions O can ask. Like a judge she has the power to interrupt witness testimony or simply pose very pointed questions.

This was never more apparent than on a show earlier this week when author Terry McMillan and her ex-husband Jonathan Plummer came to dissect their marriage. Now this was a first-the "celeb" ex-husband not only got to have his say, he got to sit right next to his former spouse on the couch while he said it. O asked if he did have sex with men outside the marriage, and when he hedged a little, like a real judge, she insisted that he answer the question. To her credit, Oprah admitted her own bias at one point telling Plummer that she herself turned on him when he sued his wife for money. Oprah never claimed to be completely objective.

Considering the size of her audience, The Oprah Show is a good place to go when you want to get people on your side. But you're more likely to find success there if you are a woman. The Terry/Jonathan episode did not hide Terry McMillan's angry outbursts, we saw clips of an angry Terry on the Tavis Smiles show, and heard recordings of the nasty phone messages she left for her former love. Jonathan got a fair trial. And that is just it--it was he who was on trial, there to defend himself. His ex-wife wasn't on trial and while you can make a case to say they were co-defendants, there to defend their marriage, we all know it ain't so.

So I'd caution men who are thinking of making a date to have their case heard in the Court of O. You might want to reconsider. Just ask Tom Cruise.


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mellowyellow said...

I totally agree with you on this one JB. Oprah is the judge, but her audience is not nearly as "independent" as a jury. She tells them what to think and they obey. What was Jonathan thinking going on that show? I did not see it (I refused to watch him get set-up, although I think he deserved it, your description sounds really accurate.

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