Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The last 10 minutes of Oprah

I'm working at home today so I can get the last bits of work done before heading off to the airport tonight, whilst still doing washing and taking the cats to the cattery. Fancying a coffee and a 10 minute break I flicked on the TV and came across the last 10 minutes of the Oprah Winfrey Show. Now I admire Oprah, and I watched an awful lot of her whilst I spent my 5 years horizontal and comatase as a teenager with CFS. The show is no longer broadcast on terrestrial TV in the UK so I only ever catch the odd little bit on a satellite channel, and what I've seen recently makes me worry for her sanity. 9 times out of 10 she seems to be interviewing the author of the latest "spiritual" book which has revolutionised her life, the content of most of which seems to contradict her Christian spirituality.... anyway... today was different, and even more painful.

Oprah was interviewing a NBA Basketball player who decided to address the problem of kids being beaten up or even killed for their expensive sneakers, not by helping people understand that its who you are not what you wear that matters, but by bringing out his own cut price range of shoes. Now I'm all for helping everyone have the opportunity to play sports and so making sports shoes and equipment affordable is generally a good thing. But I didn't get even the slightest impression that the reason why he had produced these shoes was to help kids play sports, but simply to provide a "premium brand" that everyone could afford.

His shoes were priced at $14.98..... so that's about £7.50 - and they were allegedly similar in technical performance to normal sports shoes. But dear god, what hell hole in the Phillipines did a 6 year old child have to slave in to produce a sports shoe for that price? Did he think of "fair trade" or "trade justice" when he was approached to endorse commissioned these shoes? Now I know things are not necessarily different for a pair of Nikes that cost £100, but would it ever be possible to produce a pair of high-tech sports shoes fairly for that price?

Anyway.... I've be distracted from my major point. Why should someone who has made a brand "more affordable" be congratulated as if he had done a major piece of charity work? Oprah stated that Sarah Jessica Parker had been "inspired" by him to produce her own cut price line of branded clothes. Woo Hoo SJP! You're surely on your way to sainthood now. This is not something that should be celebrated as a higher good as it just supports the whole brand conscious consumer madness.

I will give someone a slap on the back when they make something that is "unbranded", affordable, produced fairly to all those in the production chain, and has a minimal impact on the environment. That is something worth talking to Oprah about.

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