The XX Factor

Oprah More Interesting as a Construct Than as a Person

This week has been full of “revelations” about Oprah Winfrey. Kitty Kelley’s unauthorized bio of Oprah hit stores Tuesday and she’s been making the TV rounds promoting it. Though Kelley claims the bio is juicy and revealing, she wasn’t able to dig up much at all. Kelley claims she knows the identity of Oprah’s biological father-but she won’t reveal it. She admits the rumors of Oprah’s lesbian affairs are false-but then piles on the innuendo. As Lauren Collins notes in her punchy, smart review of Kelley’s book in the New Yorker , “Kelley’s pen is not dripping poison so much as slightly curdled milk.”

The latest dish on Oprah comes from Gawker today . An ex-employee bitches and moans about how he or she had to fetch a lot of caffeine for Oprah’s producers (pretty typical assistant drudgery), and then makes a completely absurd and biologically impossible claim that one of Oprah’s former assistants is “is pregnant (with Oprah and Gayle’s baby-go ahead and investigate that one!)-and that is why they keep her on the payroll.” From the gossip perspective, the sad fact is that there is not much to Oprah the person that she hasn’t already revealed to us or had splashed across the tabloids. In her review, Collins observes that Kelley’s book is strongest “on Oprah’s cultural significance.” Perhaps that’s because, at this point, Oprah as a person is far less intruiging than Oprah as an idol.