It’s one thing to have a network vision, it’s quite another to make it marketable, watchable and profitable, let alone hip. And if there is one thing OWN is not it’s relevant. OWN seems sleepy and quaint at a moment when women are flexing their power.
OWN is missing history.
The Susan G. Komen Foundation chose to politicize their mission by targeting Planned Parenthood and their world imploded. Women are railing against Republican bills that range from transvaginal ultrasounds to forcing women to have and view pictures against our will. Rush Limbaugh calls Sandra Fluke a “slut” and “prostitute” for speaking out in favor of Pres. Obama’s contraceptive mandate, which causes an earthquake in talk radio, changing the advertising model of Premiere Networks. Female legislators are tormenting men across the country in state houses with reproductive bills to embarrass them over Viagra.
The big news on Oprah’s OWN?
Rosie O’Donnell’s show has been cancelled.
Al Gore feels Oprah’s pain.
CurrentTV languished for years before Keith Olbermann signed on, then predictably took the buzz off rail in a squabble that anyone could have predicted. Jennifer Granholm has joined The Young Turks, so at least they’re relevant, relentlessly progressive and breaking ground, while struggling to rise.
OWN’s lineup is none of the above and at a time when women are utilizing power to move policy and politics in America, with Democrats depending on women to win in November to keep the Senate, what’s the network’s contribution to the discussion?
As far as I can tell it’s silence.
The president of Emily’s List Stephanie Schriock stated recently that her organization had doubled its membership since Speaker Boehner was handed his gavel. It’s up over 1 million members.
The religious conservative war on women has been in full swing since November 2010 (though I’d argue since 1980), with a list of anti-women’s freedom legislation historic.
It’s a presidential election season once again, but yet Oprah’s OWN remains disengaged on politics in any significant way by choice, in a country that has awakened to the majority of women having the power to elect a president or not and willing to prove it.
Oprah’s talent and ingenuity can still save OWN from irrelevancy, but to do so she needs to harness the moment we’re in today, not channel the nostalgia of her daytime talk show. People forget that Oprah made ratings gold by besting Jerry Springer, but she didn’t do it through tired bookings and yawning subject focus. She found a way to hit the zeitgeist and run with it, never looking back and became one of the most powerful, successful and important women in business and culture.
Why should we care?
Because Oprah has the power and money to bring the best of liberal, conservative and independent thought to her network, putting together a political division that could be unique, though Oprah would have to hand the job to someone savvy beyond the Oprah bubble to set it free from predictable programming.
Secretary Clinton’s former presidential campaign unleashed the Hillary Effect, with female ambassadorships in Washington growing dramatically once she came to State. But long before that the Hillary Effect helped put a woman on the Republican Party’s national ticket, which ignited a conservative women’s movement that lit the Republican Party on fire, with Sarah Palin’s Tea Party power, before it collapsed, leading to huge wins in 2010 and historic victories for the right across the country in state legislatures. In media, it catapulted women across network and cable shows, from morning shows to evening news.
If conservative women were leading the Republican presidential campaign, the right would be on fire right now, instead of on a political death march for Mitt, or worse, Rick Santorum, a politician who when he last ran in Pennsylvania suffered the biggest loss in memory.
Meanwhile, on Oprah’s OWN network it’s as if time has stood still or remains viewed from a pillow.
It’s the 21st century and women are leading in ways that seem revolutionary, from reproductive demands to economics and Occupy, but not on OWN.
Is it any wonder no one’s watching it?