Friday, January 27, 2006

Oprah Bitchslaps "Memoir" Author

I reluctantly watched yesterday's Oprah show in which she invited back author James Frey, who penned the largely fabricated "memoir" "A Million Little Pieces" - a book I happened to get for Christmas and decided prior to this scandal that I had no interest in reading.

Regardless, this controversy over the veracity of Frey's book is totally ridiculous.
Who friggin' cares!
For those not closely following the travails of the publishing world these last few weeks, Frey's book was outed by The Smoking Gun as filled with "wholly fabricated or wildly embellished details of his purported criminal career, jail terms, and status as an outlaw"
When the shit hit the fan, it was revealed that Frey spent just three hours in jail, instead of the near three-month term he details in his book. Many other details in the book were tweaked, altered, or completely made up.



When Oprah added the book to her book club list and held the accompanying interview with Frey, she was dewy eyed, describing her connection to the story in the book.
All that changed once the truth came out and Oprah called Frey into Principal Winfrey's office yesterday and commenced with the verbal bitchslapping of a career.
The tone of the broadcast seemed to be that of a parent scolding her errant child. Even Frey's demeanor and posture suggested that he was shamed by being the target of Oprah's "embarrassed and disappointed" tirade. He just sat there like a dog who was used to being kicked and presented his backside for Oprah's Jimmy Choo.
Totally ridiculous.
She even tongue-lashed his publisher, admonishing her for not fact checking the "memoir" that had become a NY Times Bestseller.
I couldn't BELIEVE that either Frey or the publisher showed up to Oprah's public brow-beating. I also couldn't believe that they both acted like penitent sinners who had wronged the Church of Oprah.
Patently ridiculous!
Oprah questioned Frey relentlessly over whether certain details of his book, a suicide, a dental visit, a stint in rehab, were real or not. She grilled him about the reasons for his embellishments and somewhat snidely asked him whether he made changes because he thought it would "make a better book"
Uh, Oprah, hon. He's a writer, trying to sell a book and make money. He's not a biographer, he's not writing a school textbook where accuracy is of the utmost importance. He's not writing informational pamphlets, he's not writing the back of the Tylenol bottle.
He wrote a book. You liked the book. You find out the book is **gasp shock dismay** a fictionalized account of his actual experience and you initially defend him by saying the impact of the book remains the same, but then you call Frey (who is admittedly a shady and unlikeable character to begin with) to the carpet and stop just short of sending him to his room to think about what he's done.
Oprah said she felt betrayed. That Frey betrayed his readers, fleeced the public, misrepresented himself.
Yeah, so what?
She ended her show with the sharp admonition to Frey that "the truth matters"
Yes, Oprah, the truth does matter, but honey, it's just a damn book.
Lighten up.
And that Frey, he needs to grow some cojones. I can only assume that he appeared before executioner Oprah in the hopes of resucitating his once flourishing writing career.
I can only hope that he will one day write a memoir of his appearance on Oprah that will vastly diverge from the taped and broadcasted episode but by that time Oprah will be dead.

5 comments:

Freebird said...

I know, who cares? Not me. I think the entire hoopla has more to do with Oprah coming across as an idiot than anything else.

cube said...

Oprah has based her empire on touchy-feely emotionalism, however,
in real life, she is tough as nails. I don't care how she feels about this, or anything else. I think she plays on, yes, mostly women's, emotions and feeling, but very little rational thinking.

Good for you for not reading that silly book.

Amy said...

He can't write a book on his Oprah experience. She probably made him sign an ironclad confidentiality agreement and will sue his ass if he says anything about the experience except for what was on tv.

Jessey said...

ooh, I just hate Oprah so much. She's so self-righteous. I swear she thinks she's a minor deity.

Jessey said...

Oprah came across as such a narcissist, as if this is national "important" news because it made HER look stupid.