i'm just a literary tease, my reputation's on its knees.

D-U-M-B spells Oprah

September 23, 2004

Okay, I just can't let this slide another second: What's up with Oprah?

I mean, last week, hurricane George or Ivan or Horatio or whatever hurricane is highlighting the news that week was raging down in Florida, poor people in hovels are dying by the dozens and Oprah is giving away free cars to 276 people.

People were all "Oh that Oprah, she's so nice... wish I was in the audience!"

... but I'm thinking Oprah could have done something a lot better with that money. I mean, for the price she paid for those cars, she could have bought herself a jet or two and flown down to Florida, let a bunch of poor soaked folks climb in, and jet-setted back to her mansion wherever. (I don't know where Oprah lives but I'd bet its in rather palatial mansion. I mean, if she can hand out cars like cookies...)

She could have done something with her money that actually made a difference in the world instead of perpetrating the myth that money = happy. I mean, sure those people who got the cars were feeling pretty darn spunky that week, but have you heard the latest news??

Oprah's Car Winners Hit With Hefty Tax Bill

Sure, Oprah gave everybody in the studio that day a car. "But now some of those eager prizewinners have a choice: Fork over $7,000 or give up the car," according to an article on AOL News today. "The Harpo Spokeswomen [Oprah's company] said winners had three choices. They could keep the car and pay the tax, sell the car and pay the tax with the profits or forfeit the car."

Now, I don't know about you but: if someone gave me a car, that would be AWESOME! I'm driving a piece of shit beater that reached its prime back in the 80's. So a new car would be awesome. But, if someone gave me a car and then said, "Suprise! Now give the government $7,000." I wouldn't be able to keep the car.

Maybe Oprah should have thought things through a little bit better?

Moira at 1:44 PM :: Comments (13) :: ::

Hey..look at the bigger picture. This is a beautiful tax write off.

Posted by: Neha at September 23, 2004 2:41 PM

For who?

Posted by: moira at September 23, 2004 2:50 PM

That money could have been much better spent on the victims of the hurricane. Send the money down to Florida to help families fix their roof. Oprah is usually so into helping people. Eh, who knows, maybe it'll be on a "Oprah Special".

Posted by: Vanessa at September 24, 2004 8:29 AM

The cars we donated by General Motors. I read this in my issue of Newsweek yesterday:

Posted by: Brian at September 24, 2004 8:43 AM

Oops, I just clicked on the link you had (I couldn't get the AOL article because it is in an AOL members only area) from CNN and it said GM was paying the tax on them too.

So I'm wondering what happened if the people had to turn around and pay the taxes. GM donated 7 or so million dollars worth of cars, so they would get the whole blockbuster effect of Hollywood. Whether the timing was good or not with the hurricanes, I think that they got the affect they wanted.

Posted by: Brian at September 24, 2004 8:50 AM

Great post. You're right on the money, too, when you say she could have made a more socially conscious use of those funds...but it wouldn't have made good television, sadly. That's probably why they did it: to construct a 'pseudoevent'. (On your blog, I first misread the line about "Oprah's Winners Hit with Hefty Tax Bill" and thought it said 'Oprah's Winners Hit..." IN THEIR BRAND NEW CARS. Oh, the ironic tragedy.

Posted by: Mike Arnzen at September 24, 2004 12:19 PM

P.S. Moira: Please e-mail me at so I can pass along some info about Eye Contact (and a design comment about your blog) -- Dr. A.

Posted by: Mike Arnzen at September 24, 2004 12:20 PM

Vanessa - I agree! Maybe she'll catch wind of people making fun of her gesture and do a big Hurricane Survivor Special complete with doe-eyed haitian kids and everything.

Brian - I guess GM covered local and state taxes on the cars, but not the federal ones. And that sucks that article isn't available for everyone! eh, but you get the gist... I read that article.. I'll have to link it in the entry... crazy! ;c)

Dr. A - It really bothers me when the people who are in the best position to be socially conscious aren't at all aware of the impact that they -could- be having on the world. I agree with you about the "psuedoevent" (good term!). It's things like this that give me a great reason to never watch television!! Also, I did drop you a line from my yahoo account. Check it ;c)

Posted by: moira at September 24, 2004 1:32 PM

You know, right after a commercial about Oprah giving away all of those new cars HALF of the girls in the shelter where I work (for runaway and abused teenagers) decided to write letters to Oprah. They were all asking for paper and pencils and envelopes. Why? To tell their sad stories and hope to get something out of it. It was strange watching them write (I was happy that they were writing at all, I'm always advocating getting their stories out there.) with all of these hopes. I didn't want to dash them, so I let them write. But the whole thing was a little surreal.

Posted by: Lily at September 24, 2004 6:07 PM

I watched that whole entire show that day until a split 10 second clip at the end when she screams, "Everyone in the audience today receieves a brand new car!"

First of all, that is true... the donations from General Motors should go toward the homeless victims of the hurricane in the south. I bet some of those people in the audience had their connection with others to "make sure to go to that certain show." They are probabley driving around in Bentley's and will trade in the car they get from Oprah, for some extra pocket change.

Posted by: Firefighter Chica at September 26, 2004 9:47 PM

Look I'm not really a fan of The Big O but you must keep i mind that most of those episodes are taped months in advanced. I only know this because I know people who's ended up on Ricky or JJ or some lame dating show and sometimes depending on the show (unless if it's stated that it's live) they can wait from 6 weeks to 4-5 months to air it. Give the O a chance to save flordia. Lord knows she's got the cash to do it and I heard her theme of this current season is saving the world or something.

Posted by: Hashim at September 27, 2004 7:04 AM

Holy cow, I can't help but laugh at about a thousand-and-one things written here :) Allow me to list my favorites:
"she can hand out cars like cookies... " -Moira
"I first misread the line about "Oprah's Winners Hit with Hefty Tax Bill" and thought it said 'Oprah's Winners Hit..." IN THEIR BRAND NEW CARS. Oh, the ironic tragedy." -Dr. A

Anyway, I agree that the money could've been used for something better, but has that ever stopped any -other- celebrity from doing whatever they want with their money? (This argument stems back to a previous entry, Moira :) My point is, celebrities will do anything outlandish or entirely audacious (like handing out cars "like cookies") to get in the news--and it usually works. I have the same theory about Britney Spears' 55hour wedding, and Jessica Simpson's issue with Chicken of the Sea. This "pseudoevent" garbage makes me furiously wonder why people are suffering while celebrities lounge in their summer homes (i.e. bubble that protects them from the outside world), totally oblivious to anything that they could do to -REALLY- help!
[/end vent] ;)

Posted by: Karissa at September 27, 2004 9:27 AM

Lily - that is sad but funny... I mean, it's awesome that the girls are inspired enough to write a letter to Oprah, but it's sad for obvious reasons. Damn media! But really.. anything that gets people writing has got to be good...

Ms. Chica - I hear ya! Supposedly the guests were *specially chosen* because they needed a car but I bet if they couldn't afford a car they can't afford the $7000 in taxes to keep the sucker!

Hashim - good point! thanks for bursting my bubble, bitch! it's all good though because as my brother (who's taking a logic class this semester) pointed out, my statement relating Oprah's car freebies to hurricane disasters is a "Logical Fallacy" and therefore a bunch of crap. Oh well...

Karissa - lordy, lordy do those celebrities bug me. When I am rich and famous (as I will be, trust) I hope that I will maintain at least a shred of my current opinions and do good things with my money, like buying donuts for all my friends.

Posted by: moira at September 28, 2004 6:51 PM
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