Oprah: Ignorance or Arrogance

Posted: October 11, 2009 in My Articles

Oprah: Ignorance or Arrogance?


Although I’ve been a huge fan of Oprah ever since I could lay  my eyes on TV, I was disappointed at her lack of information about Nancy Ajram. On her show, Oprah described Nancy as one of the most influential Arab figures in a conservative society such as Lebanon. Using a dictionary before preparing and broadcasting the episode could have been useful for Oprah since she seems to have misused the word “influential”. Nancy could be described as one of the most charming, popular, and sexiest singers in the Arab world, but “influential”? That’s the most eccentric description I’ve ever heard about Nancy. Come on, Oprah, do you really think that Nancy can be positioned in the same category with Gandhi, Princess Diana, or Obama, for instance? Saying that Nancy is influential is like saying Paris Hilton is intellectual! Actually, I believe you didn’t even think when you said those words about Nancy; who cares about those Arab people  anyway? Just say anything about them, and they’ll accept and be honored cause I’m saying it! That’s a minus one for you Oprah for not choosing the right word and for overlooking the really amazing influential people in the Arab world and picking an easy-to-find pretty face and an airhead instead!  No offence, Nancy fans, but Nancy herself never claimed she’s a wise girl or a bookworm; otherwise she would have lost her popularity in the shallow world of teenagers brought up by housemaids, drivers, and loss!

Oprah’s mini piece of information about Nancy has shown more than  just a mistakenly chosen word; it has revealed lack of credibility or maybe  lack of hard work on Oprah’s part. When I heard the word “conservative”  about Lebanon, I could almost imagine the witty well-educated Lebanese people laugh their heads off! Lebanon? Conservative?! Come on, Oprah! You can do better than that! Surf the internet, girl! It’s an easy homework….just write Lebanon and then click search! And to be more specific, write Beirut, and you’ll see all the beauties of Lebanon greeting you with their dazzling Zuhair Murad fancy, sexy gowns. I think when you attempted the search on Nancy, you clicked by mistake the Lebanese Hezbo Allah that emerged from the South of Lebanon, which is not Nancy’s birthplace!

From now on, Oprah, you need to do three basic steps when preparing for your show; put an effort using the dictionary, search well, and never  underestimate your viewers!

Maha Noor Elahi

Sunday, October 11, 2009

  1. Abu Abdullah says:

    As Salaam Alaikum Ukhti,
    I just landed in your blog for the first time.
    Mashallah it provides a perspective on Saudi Women which has never been explored, (yes other than the usual “Veil” banter)
    Inshallah I just added you to my reader list, wish to see more informative posts coming up.

  2. Lynn says:


    There is a link to a video you can watch where Oprah is speaking about Nancy. If you watch again you will see that Oprah says that NEWSWEEK says Nancy is the most influential…

    She called her the Brittany Spears of the Middle East. Do you think that Brittany Spears has any influence on her fans? Influential is not a word reserved for ‘good’ influences like Gandhi or President Obama. ANYone who is popular has an influence or is influential on their fans.

  3. مها نور إلهي says:

    Thanks a lot Mr. Abdullah…
    I appreciate your encouraging words very much..
    I hope you’ll be a regular visitor of my blog.
    Thanks again

  4. مها نور إلهي says:

    Lynn…first of all welcome to my blog…
    second…my dear… Oprah IS the news! how can the queen of talk shows take her information from newsweek posts…you and I and others can do this, but for a professional like Oprah..I don’t think this is acceptable…
    Influential usually has a positive connotation, it doesn’t mean the negative influence ….do you honestly think that Oprah meant to use the word influential in a negative way about Nancy?

    Sorry…I just see the part about Nancy a cheap way to fill in the blanks..she wanted to bring any piece of news about the Arab world, and she couldn’t find something easier…

    I appreciate your comment Lynn..
    Thanks for passing by…hope to see you again…

  5. Abu Abdullah says:

    Sure Lynn…

    We all Love OPRAH!!! (sigh)

  6. Chiara says:

    I left a long reply with links, I may need to be fished out of spam.

    In short, Oprah is a highly influential woman in the American media, and has a Saudi following. Her audience deserves better, and she should and does have a team of researchers to do better for her. She combines arrogance and ignorance to bend topics to her biases.

    Google Rania Al Baz to discover how low and biased the Oprah show will go. NB the article “Oprah, Don’t Call Me Again” by the man who convinced Rania to do the Oprah show. 3 minutes of the 64 minutes filmed were used to portray Saudi as the land of the beaten wives/wife batterers in a segment where all the other women of the world protrayed their country well. Rania had agreed to be part of a program on domestic violence but wasn’t included there, and the 61 minutes on other more balanced views of Saudi by her were never aired.

    • مها نور إلهي says:

      Dear Chiara,
      This is so typical of the American media…I remember a few years ago, CNN aired a program called (Kingdom on the Brink) where they interviewed people for more than an hour and then aired only minutes of the interview…one of the people who were interviewed was Mr. Ahmad Al-Shugairi who portrays a very positive image of Saudi young men said that he was deceived by CNN and that he will never be on a show unless he knows surly what they’re going to air…

      Thanks a lot for the information!

      • Chiara says:

        You are welcome, and I know from personal experience what the media can do even with a live interview–verrrrry deceptive!

  7. Lynn says:

    Did Newsweek say that about Nancy Ajram? Yes they did.

    Is it a big deal or an honor to have a news magazine even notice you are alive? Yes, yes it is.

    Every year Newsweek has a list of the years most influential people. One year they included Nancy Ajram. Most would consider that a pretty big deal to be included on that list.

    When you introduce or speak of someone on a talk show or elsewhere you make mention of things that have made them stand out. That is what Oprah did. She was mentioning things that make Nancy Ajram stand out as a public figure and one of those things was that Newsweek chose her as one of that years most influential people. Oprah was not making the judgement she was stating a fact. Complain to Newsweek for making the judgement.

    If you went to school in the US you should know that the word influential is not restricted to something related to intelligence. Pop stars DO have influence on their fans that makes the term INFLUENTIAL appropriate. If you want to argue that pop stars should not have influence on their fans then that’s another story and you could take that up with Newsweek magazine. I don’t care one way or another how you feel about Oprah but still, I think that you are wrong in blaming a talk show host for listing the notables about the person she is speaking about or introducing.

    Finally, I worry about anyone who thinks that a talk show IS the news. Did you really mean that?

    • مها نور إلهي says:

      Dear Lynn,
      I’ve studied in the States, and the word is not used to describe people like Nancy…

      And it’s no big deal if Oprah or Newsweek talks about someone… this is a very superficial way of thinking ….do you really believe that when Newsweek talks about someone, they are really great?

      when i said Oprah is the news , i didn’t mean the talk show…i meant Oprah herself because she is an influential person whom people take whatever she says for granted…not after today…i guess…

      And to have a better understanding of the word influential, check out this link…



      • Lynn says:

        Thank you for providing that link. It makes my case way better than I was able to get it across obviously. Did you read it?

        Speaking of Time’s list of 100 Most Influential People ‘…Time makes it very clear that people are recognized for changing the world, for better or for worse. Those recognized fall in one of five categories: Leaders & Revolutionaries, Builders & Titans, Artists & Entertainers…’ Artists and Entertainers eh? Interesting.

      • Lynn says:

        Regarding whether or not I afree with Newsweek on who they consider worthy of calling ‘influential’, as I said previously. ‘If you want to argue that pop stars should not have influence on their fans then that’s another story and you could take that up with Newsweek magazine.’

        I would also question why Oprah should be held in such high esteem. Is she some notable scholar? Did she discover the cure for cancer? Why in the world did you hold her words at such a high level of esteem?

        But still you misrepresent things to insist that she spoke as if that was HER opinion when she did NOT present it as her own but as Newsweek’s

  8. Abu Abdullah says:

    @Lynn wrote: “If you went to school in the US you should know that the word influential is not restricted to something related to intelligence.”

    Ok so the bottom line they teach you in US Schools you don’t have to be intelligent to be great you can just be a dumb ass. Lynn, now i know where you learnt your reasoning from, you make me laugh some times, ROTFLOL 😀

  9. Lynn says:

    You are a flaming idiot Abu Abdullah and you prove that to me time and time again. Read a DICTIONARY is all I am saying. You are usually good for posting definitions aren’t you? Why aren’t you doing it in this case? Don’t worry. I’ll post the definition for you.

    in⋅flu⋅en⋅tial  /ˌɪnfluˈɛnʃəl/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [in-floo-en-shuhl]
    –adjective 1. having or exerting influence, esp. great influence: three influential educators.

    –noun 2. a person who exerts or can exert strong influence: according to influentials of the fashion industry.

    • مها نور إلهي says:

      You are not allowed at all to use inappropriate or offending words in my blog… there are basics for having a discussion or debate…

      You can disagree with me or anyone else as much as you want as long as you don’t insult others….

      I should remove your comment, but I will keep it just to show everybody what type of person you are…

    • Abu Abdullah says:

      I could have gone down and dirty but i reserve my comments, I have learnt how to speak to a Lady well.

      Now by your comment it is confirmed to what kind of school you went to or come from.
      You are just making an amusement of yourself by your “unparliamentary” language, you may wish to keep it to your self next time.

      Thanks for moderating.

  10. مها نور إلهي says:

    Lynn…try using the Longman Dictionary or the Oxford to understand the word better through the examples provided..and don’t forget to check out the link provided earlier….

    Besides, words are used not just according to definitions , but according to connotations.,…and if Oprah had said (influential singer) things would have been much better …

  11. مها نور إلهي says:

    Abu Abdullah..
    thanks for the follow up

  12. Chiara says:

    Maha–Excellent blog moderating skills! Kudos! I am even more convinced I will enjoy being a regular here!
    Connotations ultimately have more power than denotations, as linguistic studies prove over and over again.
    Indeed influential as a singer and influential are quite distinct.

    Abu Abdullah–I admire your restraint. You were raised well, and have continued to raise yourself well!

  13. Y Q says:

    lol… guys why do you all follow the american media ? when you know they will never say anything positive about us??

    they work hard on comparing a Muslim woman with their super successful pretty woman.
    I dont care if they take the least successful Muslim woman and compare her with most successful one.
    what we all fail to realize is that the battle ground for the two are completely different. while an american inspiration sarah palin look like the most successful woman of america and have her daughter pregnant, a Muslim woman will just be the opposite. It is not FAME that our woman are required to earn by our religion. it is to work hard within the family and raise children who are an example to follow and help the society to become better, and of course sleep at their own place…

    a successful woman to us is a reflection of how well she has raised her family, to the west it is all about money money money…
    take oprah, being successful all alone is pretty easy, go marry and have kids and then do whatever she is doing… i bet you she ll probably quit.. and while sarah palin was busy with her worldly success her daughter got pregnant, what kinda success is this??? in wat terms???
    and these are jsut 2 famous personalities in the american media…

  14. coolred38 says:

    YQ…one would have to assume by your comment that there has never been a successful (or unsuccessful) Muslim woman with a pregnant teenage daughter? if that is actually what your trying to claim…I happen to know of 3 such Muslim woman..who had to suffer teen pregnancies by unwed daughters…just like mothers ALL OVER THE FRICKEN WORLD.

    Such sweeping generalizations you make. Muslims are human beings…which means they are not perfect…in most cases..not even close.

    Oprah is a daytime tv star…she has as much influence as people give her. If you dont agree with her assessment of Nancy Ajram…then you should complain to the many many Muslims/Arabs who raised Nancy’s status to that of a mega popstar and all that entails.

    • مها نور إلهي says:

      I agree with you…Muslims are not perfect..they were never meant to be perfect…but they were asked to seek perfection in daily and spiritual matters…

      Oprah’s assessment of Nancy is based on the trivial Arab media producers..these people are not well educated… they are money makers…and they will continue making money through the likes of Nancy and others that are adored by teenagers raised by drivers and maids and loss…as mentioned in my article…

  15. coolred38 says:

    btw Oprah has always said that being a Mother is the hardest job in the world…and one she feels she would never have been able to accomplish well..and so chose NOT to be a Mother.

    If only more women, who clearly were not meant to be Mothers….would choose to do the same.

    • مها نور إلهي says:

      there was a Muslim woman who heard the duties of a wife and a mother from the prophet and decided that she will never get married because she cannot fulfill all these requirements.. that was in the Prophet’s days… she made the choice of not getting married… she wanted to focus on other things in life, and no one blamed her for her choice…
      I truly respect every woman who is honest enough to know her limits and to make her choices accordingly …

      thanks dear 🙂

      • Chiara says:

        Coolred–true, women should be free NOT to be mothers if they choose.

        Maha–that is very interesting. Do you have a reference, that I could read? It could be a great comfort to some Muslimah. Thanks

  16. مها نور إلهي says:

    dear all,
    sorry for not being able to catch up on the comments…Although I am not as influential as Oprah or Nancy, I have a job a very overwhelming mission and job plus my job as a mother and wife…

    I see you are focusing on “influential” and ignoring the fact that Oprah described Lebanon as conservative…
    again…if she had said “influential” (SINGER) things could have been better….however, even if we want to think of the influential Arab singers, Nancy will not be the most influential one…

    it was just an easy choice for Oprah…she reminded of an American male teacher who came to teach in a Saudi school…he submitted the final exam to his students hand-written and so not organized and not clear….if he were in an American school, he would have never dared to do that…but again..these are just Arabs…give them any thing and the must accept it and be honored …

    I just want you to understand something..I am not against Oprah..in fact she has inspired me to do a lot of things…she has great influence on so many people including myself..that’s why such mistakes are not acceptable from her…

    when you undertake the attempt to change people’s perceptions and lives, you have to be hardworking and very honest…


  17. مها نور إلهي says:

    Dear Y Q
    We don’t follow the american media…if I watch Oprah or CNN, it doesn’t mean that I take for granted everything they present…. I believe we as Muslims are asked to seek knowledge and learn as much as we can regardless of the source… (seek knowledge even if it is in China)… we watch the American channels and then resort to our judgment… if what we see does not conflict with our religion, then what is the harm in following or practicing it?
    Personally, i have benefited a lot from Oprah although I don’t agree with her on several matters…

    The thing that i despise and cannot stand is the deception of the media and the way they highlight trivial issues at the expense of major matters…

    thanks a lot

  18. Y Q says:


    i dont give a ****about nancy and her fake life !! i dont care if oprah calls insults her like ****or describes her as the most influential figure in the world.. honestly i dont !!

    what i meant by teenage pregnancy is that you people praise such people and love them. alHumdulillah so far most Muslim societies have not come that far. although thanks to the extreme efforts of the kuffaar and our weak Emaan, we are following you people and probably will overtake you pretty soon 🙂

    maha, if media was really beneficial the way you are saying it is (take what does not conflict with the religion) then why is there a cultural crisis with the Emiratis? then what is “materialism”? why does it exist in the Muslim world? does Islam allow that? nop, but weak people who feel disgraced with their own culture (thanks to the media) or stick to the media (TV, net, magazines, etc) and then the output is really stinky.

    and the religion they carry is a stupid cocktail of Islam with whatever media they are addicted to. (indian media watchers mix Islam with Hinduism, American media watchers > Islam with Christianity, and so on)

    bring 2 kids, expose one to Islam and expose the other one to both Islam and media. Wait for 5 years and then ask them what Islam is. the 1st child will have a more “accepting” view while the second one will brag about “why shud i?, personal choice, freewill, my rights, not in Islam, dont listen to scholars, etc”

  19. coolred38 says:

    YQ…loving our pregnant teenage daughters is a hell of a lot better and more humane then killing them cause of the family shame. So murdering two lives is somehow better than accepting the fact that people can and do make mistakes?

    btw…the more “accepted” view as you call it…does that refer to the view YOU approve of or who?

  20. Y Q says:

    killing is rare,

    praising a pregnant teenage daughter is to encourage the 2nd daughter or the rest of the society to do the same.

    “accepting” view in a sense that s/he will not claim the companions of the Prophet SallAllahu Alaihi Wassallam to be misguiding and will have firm trust in the scholars of Islam.

  21. Chiara says:

    Maha–off topic–I just did a post on Tara’s blog on Blogging and Ethics, linking yours, and I would really appreciate your comment on the topic thanks.


  22. only1path says:

    Definition of OPRAH-complete failure as a woman and human…soak that in for a minute

  23. gamoosh says:

    hello, I’m a newcomer to this blog. I’m an American student with a lot of Saudi friends and I’m interested in learning more about the culture from a Saudi perspective, particularly a female Saudi perspective because of the women’s rights issues over there.

    Any who, I’d like to respond to YQ’s perception that Americans praise unwed teenage mothers. There aren’t very many people who praise teenagers for getting pregnant. In fact, the majority of Americans would rather that people wait until maturity to have children. There’s a great feeling a sympathy for them, but a child raising a child is usually considered a tragedy.

    Also, you should know that Sarah Palin was not, is not, and will never be an inspiration. At most, she was a laughing stock who had her 15 minutes of fame and hopefully that will be it.

  24. rebecca says:

    you are disgusting! just shut up!

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