I just got finished watching, at Janet’s request, the 1400th show Ellen has broadcast, apparently last night. She had her typical potpourri of guests on the show, which was just fine. But more substantially, she had a fast-moving retrospective of some of her shows along the way.
What was intriguing to me when I had penned the blog on Ellen and Oprah a few weeks ago, became manifestly obvious to me as I watched that retrospective. Not only has the tide shifted from Oprah-power to Ellen-consciousness in the blink of an eye, but Ellen has emerged a clear psychic victor for reasons I only began to surmise a few short weeks ago and can articulate more cogently today.
Let me outline those here:
• I thought Oprah was wonderful, bringing salient and important human themes through her show routinely; however, in the back of my mind, virtually all the time, I felt that it was as much about Oprah as it was about the themes themselves. Rightly or wrongly, I viewed Oprah as a wee bit too egocentric: a wee bit too “look at me, ’America’, I made it after all.” On the other hand, I find Ellen less thematic and more people driven. And, when she is exposing those people — interesting people — it really is about them, not about Ellen, even when she’s being her goofiest.
• Ellen gave away some type of tablet to everyone who was in attendance at her 1400th show last night. And, of course, that is a gesture clearly taken from Oprah’s playbook. However, when Ellen gave it away, it was far less about her, far less about fanfare, and far more subdued than anything Janet had been crying about on Oprah’s show in past years. With Oprah, giving away a potted plant had so much pomp and circumstance attached to it, I was actually a wee bit embarrassed for the recipients, and even more embarrassed about Oprah. With Ellen, I barely noticed it was a gift at all, which is exactly as it should be.
• It goes without saying that the subjects of Ellen’s inquiry are far more about people and far less about world-changing events. With a philosophical bend, I’m always interested in world views and global influences. But because I felt I had to deal with Oprah as much as the themes, I hesitated to engage. In Ellen’s world, life is far more about human weaknesses and foibles — risque, eccentric and idiosyncratic, but fun in a non-judgmental way — far more about the embarrassements along the way, and far more about living through them with a sense of humor than an obligation to act. It is almost as if I’m comparingOrdinary People to the Incredible Lightness of Being.
• And as I saw the digital edits of those past shows, it occurred to me that Ellen was her best without a teleprompter or ear piece. In fact, she was fresh, exciting and enticing. When I used to view Oprah over Janet’s shoulder, I saw a terribly gifted celebrity and interviewer controlled more by an earpiece and much less by raw instinct. Neither is necessarily good or bad, but Ellen’s way is far easier to digest.
Let me simply pause.
These thoughts are at best docile observations from the bullpen. Lest anyone be concerned, I was and remain an ardent admirer of the Big “O”, but I couldn’t help observing in Oprah’s time that Oprah’s work was often overshadowed by Oprah herself. I can’t help observing today that Ellen in Motion allows me to relax and doesn’t judge me in the process.
Oprah, you’ve done your work . . . and it was game changing. Focus on building your network and allow distance in time to build your legend ever more. There’s more for you out there, but not from the front lines. That time has passed.
Ellen, I wish you Godspeed in showing yourself to America. You’re doing great! Keep at it!!!