Oprah’s Favorite Things: Consumerism Orgy

Oprah had her annual “Favorite Things” show last week. Since this is her last season on the air, it was actually a two day orgy of consumerism. I don’t generally mind Oprah most of the time, but this episode gets on my nerves every year. It’s great that she wants to give all this stuff away, but let’s be real: This is less about her generosity and more about making some advertisers very happy. The show is nothing more than one long advertisement for products and services. Since an Oprah endorsement translates to bigger sales, these providers are more than happy to give away products to the audience in exchange for that endorsement. It’s not Oprah that give

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13 Responses to Oprah’s Favorite Things: Consumerism Orgy

  1. Jean Calderon says:

    It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one irritated by Oprah’s “Favorite Things” shows.
    I haven’t seen it the last few years, but one year she was giving away cupcakes that cost $59 for 9 cupcakes. Seriously???
    I like cupcakes, but I just can’t believe there are any out there that are worth that price.

  2. Vingamoo says:

    Oprah is just having fun on her final season. Does it really matter if it’s about being generous or just about advertising products? Either way an audience full of very deserving people who were nominated for their humanitarianism got TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars of gifts. And the show is also great for the economy especially since many of the products being promoted are from small businesses that may expand if they get enough attention.

  3. Spokane Al says:

    I totally agree with you.

    P.S. I wonder how many in the audience realize that they will be paying income tax on all that stuff, whether or not they wanted or needed it? You can bet that Oprah will be following IRS rules to the letter and reporting the fair market value of these gifts and the name and SSAN of each recipient to the IRS as well as providing a 1099 MISC to each of those people as well.

  4. Vingamoo says:

    I read that Oprah is covered the taxes this time.

  5. Monkey Mama says:

    Oprah can’t cover the taxes. That’s just another gift that needs to be reported as income. If she really pays everyone’s income taxes for their gifts, it will help, but it creates an endless loop of more taxes.

  6. Monkey Mama says:

    P.S. Technically all of these are “awards,” and not “gifts,” which is why it is taxed. Correcting my terminology.

  7. jdavis103 says:

    Of course she can cover the taxes. For example, if you assume a 50% tax rate (for example), then if you give $X in gifts, and add the same $X in cash, then the taxes are $X. No infinite cycle.. that’s what math is for. With a 33% tax rate, you add half of $X in cash. Etc.

  8. Jaime says:

    I watched a late show parody of Oprah’s Favorite Things that was so, so funny. It is absolutely hilarious how excited the audience members got, and a bit annoying if I were in a less mellow mood. Mostly, though, I found it amusing.

    The real problem I have with the Oprah phenomenon is this: who cares what Oprah recommends in stuff, books or anything else? I mean really. Why does anyone take these things as gospel? I can get that you see something fun and decide to look it up, but buying solely on Oprah’s recommendation? Ridiculous. Also, it’s a mistake to think you’re getting infallible medical advice from the show as well – both mental and physical.

    Rely on your own judgement people. lol, though I guess people are already doing that because they’ve decided to abdicate their own taste in favor of hers. ;)

    Personally, even with the taxes, I’d have loved to be in that audience. Keep what you like and sell the rest, fund other things in your life. Bonus! lol.

  9. dj says:

    I agree. If O does everything for a reason, wasn’t it interesting the show after OFTs was about nuns who give it all up. O does good, but does bad cancel the good? If O believes what we put out into the Universe matters, & she has been #1 on the network public stage for 25 yrs, & we have growing ethical & financial crises, unemployment, deteriorating infrastructure, dysfunctional politics, & corps & WS preempting our Democracy & humanity, does she not contribute more so because of her public pulpit & what she has put out into the Universe. Maybe OFTs is a result of the lawsuit over beef. It showed her it’s easier to play the game, rather than be a game changer. O seems full of contradictions – even her OFTs (brownies & weight-loss – poor Bob Greene). During one of her – “How to Avoid Overspending & Manage Your Money”, “Mom who shopped her family broke”, “Debt Diet”, “How to be a mindful shopper” – shows, she tells the wife she is “living her life unconsciously

  10. Robert says:

    Excellent article Jennifer! My wife and I watched the second day of Oprah’s give-aways, and found it bizarre and unsettling, to say the least. I too noticed the revival meeting fervour of many in the audience, a deluge of emotion seldom equaled by worshiping fans at a rock concert. The strange coupling of material excess with religion was echoed in the carols playing in the background, as well, songs celebrating the humble birth of Christ, as Oprah strutted the stage. (Which begs the question, what would Jesus have thought of it all?)

  11. supra92 says:

    Very well-written article — great observations and persuasively-yet-not-abrasively stated. Especially like the comment on what it says about today’s society that people will fall to their knees or throw their arms in the air and thank God when they win “stuff”… although granted, I’m sure these audience members are handpicked prior to the show’s recording and are instructed to behave with great/over-the-top excitement when they win something, precisely for Oprah’s show’s ratings. But still…. the imagery of the consumerist behold to ‘stuff’ remains.

    Just a great article — line by line, paragraph by paragrah, it makes fantastic points, sober as they might be.

  12. Lara says:

    JDavis103 – I think you’re missing the cyclical part. Let’s say she gives someone $10k worth of stuff. That person is in the 50% tax bracket. So she pays the IRS $5k on that person’s behalf to cover the taxes. Now she’s given that person $15k of ‘gifts’, so the tax is $7500. The only way for a Oprah gift recipient to leave that show without a boatload of tax debt is to sell some of the gifts to come up with the money for the taxes.

    Back to the article though, I completely agree with the author – it’s a consumer orgy. Over the years I’ve fallen victim to 2 of Oprah’s Favorite Things, and they were both huge disappointments. One was a Brookstone portable DVD player that sounded very tinny. That was given to Salvation Army. The other was some type of cozy robe that ended up being a hot mess of polyester. I took that robe on a trip and left it in the hotel room.

    I can’t imagine that these 2 things were pleasing in any way to Oprah, and perhaps she owned neither.

  13. Dg says:

    Sorry, Lara. The math does work. If 10k of stuff is given and the receiver owes 50% in taxes: Oprah just has to give 10k cash. 5k of the cash pays for the taxes on the cash leaving 5k to pay for the taxes on the favorite things.

    Math always wins.

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