Stripped of all his glory and seven Tour De France titles for cheating and doping, Lance Armstrong is a man ridden with the heaviest burden of all – guilt. And instead of fighting it out or playing it fair, he continues to carry it, only to drop it all off at the Church of O where the goddess of all things, waits for him at the confession box and will hopefully grant him absolution. ‘Oprahfication’ (term coined by the Wall Street Journal for public confession as a form of therapy) is Armstrong’s chosen path to redemption.
On January 18, Oprah will speak exclusively with Armstrong in his first no-holds-barred interview, “Oprah Winfrey and Lance Armstrong: A Worldwide Exclusive.” Armstrong will address the alleged doping scandal, years of accusations of cheating and charges of lying about the use of performance-enhancing drugs throughout his storied cycling career. The special 90-minute ‘confession’ will premiere on Friday, January 18 at 1 pm and 9 pm on Discovery Channel and will repeat on Sunday, January 20 at 9 pm.
Watch the promo of the intereview:
“Satisfied and exhausted” with the interview, Huffington Post quotes Oprah saying that “he did not come clean as I expected.” Seems like the heavens have spoken, and its favourite messenger has been disappointed. Where does that leave Armstrong then? Well, if our vote is counted, then forgiven, and perhaps, soon forgotten, for that’s the way the world operates. We forgive, forget and fuck it up all over again! Anyways, the point is not the ‘cycle’ of life, but the circle of O.
For more than 25 years, Oprah has been at the epicenter of change, of hope, of inspiration. Much has been written about her, her talk show, her selfless social work, her highly rated book club, her magazine O, her child predators watchlist, her work with women empowerment, the ripple effect of her affirmations. Rupert Cornwell of The Independent in his January 13 article this year, decodes the Oprah Effect, her rags to riches story and how she singlehandedly got a million votebank for Barack Obama.
A big time Oprah fan and follower, yours truly too pinned her hopes to this superwoman, and more than a decade ago, shot an email requesting her to help in weight loss. Considering this was her favourite subject and fiercest battle, I hoped and prayed for a response. It never came, but I remained loyal to Oprah, catching all her shows, even if it meant bunking tuition, dumping homework and waging a war to have the telly all to myself. The lady was simply brilliant. Unlike other talk show hosts who mostly skim the surface with the usual la di das, Oprah managed to crack open the toughest of nuts. Not with cruel accusations, insensitive judgments or fierce investigation; but with a cup of cocoa, a warm smile and an empathetic heart. She was and still is the ultimate agony aunt, the global shrink who redefined the rules of a talk show, making it a universal platform to share, care and confess.
What makes her endearing is that she used the negatives of her life as positives. Born to a single unwed teen mother, Oprah’s seen poverty, loss, abuse and violence. She was raped at nine and lost her infant son at 14. From her radio show to television to films to becoming a black billionaire, Oprah’s strength and selling points have been her own candid confessions, the courage to speak up, to take your chances and celebrate life. She is perhaps one of the only people in the world to have the richest guest list, the maximum heart to hearts, and the largest impact towards change. For someone who was the underdog and discriminated against as an Afro-American child, Oprah chose to end this and threw the limelight on the common citizen, celebrating his/her achievements. She kept abreast of things and discussed taboos, fads, gays, lesbians etc. A chicken soup for desperate, hopeless, clueless souls Oprah’s passion, focus and vision for a better future only cemented her circle of trust.
It’s this authenticity, honesty and sincerity that she exudes, this credibility that catapulted her to a god-like status, where people would, and still, take her word over everything. No wonder her page views runs into millions, her angel network has helped thousands and many a careers have resurrected from the ashes with one pardon from her.
If the educated Indian woman yearns for emancipation, true liberation and independence, then there are lessons to be learnt from Oprah’s life, times and experiences. In the meantime, let’s see if Lance lives up to expectations of the Big O.