The Next Celebrity-In-Chief: RIP #Oprah2020 Who’s Next? (Opinion)
Oprah Winfrey recently set the Internet ablaze when people began to call for her candidacy in the 2020 presidential run after her acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Globes. The speech touched on racism and sexism in America, but was concluded on a hopeful note.
“I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon,” Oprah announced to the audience, which promptly erupted with thunderous applause. “And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘Me too,’ again.”
As quickly as the whirlwind speculation around the mogul’s possible candidacy appeared, so too came an end to the rumors by Oprah herself in her recent interview for the March edition of Instyle magazine. Oprah told the interviewer “I’ve always felt very secure and confident with myself in knowing what I could do and what I could not. And so, it’s not something that interests me. I don’t have the DNA for it.”
With Oprah officially out of the running, netizens got to work providing a large supply of alternatives for the 2020 presidential run. Ranging from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to Kanye West, Internet-users' choices for the presidency indicate just how pervasive celebrity-worship culture is.
Recently, politics has evolved into a celebrity-dominated world. With big names contributing significantly to the democratic agenda, Hollywood has become an avenue for creative liberty. Award ceremonies in particular serve as a platform for speeches saturated with social justice and activism, placing power in the hands of Hollywood’s elites to create important changes. It is not hard to see why Oprah fans began wondering, almost instantly after her stirring acceptance speech, if the speech was a prelude to something bigger.
Mainstream news coverage and the media in general seem to drink this culture up, encouraging a problematic mindset of placing overly-sensationalized importance on celebrities to “save the day.” However, we do not have to look much farther than 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, to the current celebrity-in-chief and the messes he has made since taking office, to see that this approach does not work.
When asked to weigh in on potentially running against Oprah for the candidacy in 2020, President Trump quipped that he could easily beat her, adding that “Oprah would be a lot of fun.” The language used to describe a race for the most prestigious position in the highest office in America is concerning. This type of language and mindset devalues America’s most important role to the likes of a spot on a reality show. And indeed media coverage of the President and his day-to-day shenanigans on Twitter is no short of an agonizingly-long run of a particularly bad reality show.
Oprah Winfrey may have halted any possibility of running for president in the near future, but that doesn't mean she can’t aid in supporting more diverse voices for presidency. There is significance to the avenue of activism that Hollywood has opened up—one that can very well be channeled towards positive action for the future. The past year has seen heightened political activism, with various celebrity figures riling up against injustice, sexism and blatant racism enacted by the president’s office. The next three years seem to signal a similar trend.
Like Oprah, celebrities have the ability to make inroads into everyday lives, influencing change from the ground-up.
In the meantime, America would benefit from looking towards someone who has made a career in politics and has worked their whole life for candidacy in 2020—someone with a firm grip on policy-making, with years of experience who, for a change, actually knows what they’re doing.