Singled Out: Chronicles of a Nobody Out and About in Los Angeles!
French transplant with a Lebanese and Egyptian heritage, Entertainment Publicist Mona Elyafi weighs in on Barack Obama, the passing of Prop. 8 and Oprah!
I think that self congratulations are in order because once again I failed to honor my civic duties: I didn’t vote! In a career -- as a legal adult -- spanning almost two decades, I managed to skip a total of eight presidential elections -- five in the United States and three in France. Fancy that!
But hear me out here. I didn’t vote because I couldn’t vote -- I’m French, remember? Sadly, this is one instance in which I would have liked to have played a part in the decision making process and sportingly contribute to the philosophy of “change” and “hope” as eloquently propounded for the past 21 months or so by the now winning party.
Why? You may ask. Because after 18 years living in the US, I have never felt more American now than I did when I first immigrated to this great country. Don’t worry, I will not go political on you and elaborate on my own personal definition on “who is American” or “what does it really mean to be American.” I will however let my European sarcasm talk for a minute and point out what I believe to be the biggest fallacy of these elections.
What is truly mind-boggling to me is the discrepancy between theory and reality. How do you justify adhering to the ideological emblems of “hope” and “change,” yet when having to put these virtues into practice with perhaps what is considered to be the most symbolic form of expression of these highly praised social reforms, namely voting NO on Proposition 8, the general consensus failed to pass the test. What happened to “practice what you preach”? To quote my friend Kristina: “isn’t it ironic that pigs, chickens and cows have more rights than gay people do?”
Forgive me for assuming we could at last rethink all of the borders, physical, political, or ideological, that put race, religion, ethnicity, gender, or sexual preference before our common humanity. I am by no means undermining what Barack Obama has accomplished and I do tip my hat off to him for entering the annals of American History as the first African American president.
But not to be skeptical, I personally believe that this is unfortunately the only change he really brought -- a historical benchmark.
Evidently, I am grateful that a black man with a phonetically Arabic sounding name resides at the White House, because not only is that a sign of progress but beyond anything else, it represents the ultimate embodiment and the very essence of what, in my opinion, it truly means to be American. Having partial African origins, carrying a European background and wearing a Middle Eastern last name, I can only identify with that definition -- a melting pot of cultures much like a Benetton ad!
Admittedly, we take for granted what we have and we don’t know what we have until we know what and how it feels to lose it, which brings me to my main point: I can’t wait to become American! For those of you who are Americans you might not understand the valuable luxury and prestige it represents. Having an American passport is a hot commodity despite contrary beliefs. And please do not rush to write letters to Oprah to plead my cause. Not only are the legal wheels securely in motion but first and foremost, I would rather die of hunger before having her sanctimonious royal highness take on an ineffectual stint of charitable work on my behalf -- or rather on behalf of her philanthropist self and virtuously inflated ego.
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I’ll cop to it: It’s an unpopular opinion but I can’t stand the bitch! If anything I’d much rather rally people to campaign for the “I hate Oprah” plight, which I propose we launch post-publication of this article when I will have mysteriously been disposed of or deported back to France. It is safe to say that right about now, I just turned half of the population against me and do anticipate a shit-load of emails from Oprah fanatics. And we’re not talking fan mail here as much as threat letters. I am certainly not taking lightly or underestimating the power Oprah has on this country.
I mean for god’s sake, and with all due respect, she virtually catapulted Obama into the White House from the moment she endorsed his campaign with her trademark yelp: “OBAMAAAAAAAAAAAA”, the whole continent stopped and listened. Oprah said what? Unfortunately Oprah says a lot of things that are not always the right thing.
But somehow whatever she says becomes the word of God. I for one, find it most insulting when she addresses me in a patronizing tone as if I don’t know how to use my brain and am mentally impaired to reason and think on my own.
My problem with Oprah is not so much what she has admirably accomplished because she undeniably and deservingly epitomizes the definition of the American Dream -- and I will give her credit for that. My problem with Oprah, and this is just my personal opinion, or perhaps my own problem, is how she arrived at the top -- through a series of brilliantly concocted and overly hyped PR stunts based on nothing more than an elusive image -- the illusion of being a Good Samaritan whose sole purpose on earth is to save the world lest it first saves her own public image. To elaborate on my allegations with supportive evidence would require additional unnecessary study of her shows which I am not willing to suffer more than I already have. I’ll potentially save that for another article in case I’m stricken with writer’s block and don’t have anything better to do than miserly bitch about Oprah.
Can someone please give her an Oscar for Best performance by an actress in a leading role in a dramatic movie? Maybe like most Oscar recipients she’ll finally lose her momentum and fall into derelict. How much longer do we have to endure this unrestrained sensational Oprah hysteria? For someone who’s allegedly a spokesperson of the woman raison d’être -- whatever that might be -- I find it ironic and illogical that not only is her show formatted to address women as if intellectually inferior human beings, but as well that without a hint of hesitation she chose race over gender in her presidential endorsement. I’m just saying!
The problem for me is when people talk the talk but do not walk the walk. In Oprah’s case, she has built her empire preaching “change” and selling the idea of “hope,” -- whether through her charity donations or her Angel Network -- and flaunting every good deed she has made, but what about her real motives? I personally believe that the only talk she walks is that of self-promotion and as an Entertainment Publicist I feel I know something about that. Do we really have short term memory? Just like after 9/11 we all came together in solidarity -- for a minute -- then went right back to our usual selfish, busy individual lives, did Oprah forget about her tough childhood and meager beginnings? Has it not instilled in her any sense of genuine integrity? While I refuse to render a “guilty by association” verdict, I surely hope that our newly elected president, Obama, will keep on walking the walk.
While I realized my opinion is not the de facto bottom line, I’m just making an observation on what I agree to disagree about. Isn’t that what freedom of expression is all about? And after intensely cogitating over what it is exactly that I am trying to say, I will admit that I have absolutely no idea as to what I have really accomplished -- except a splendid self-inflicted headache.
But much like Oprah decides to grace the cover her “O” magazine every damn month because -- and I quote -- “she can,” I just jotted all these thoughts down simply because I could. And the beauty of it is that I don’t have to justify myself as long as I believe in my own voice. To some degree it is safer to be an ideologist rather than an activist. But if we choose to be bystanders, then before preaching for “hope” and “change”, perhaps we should really pray for hope for change -- because obviously the only thing we are willing to change is our mind! Mona Elyafi is the author of “DisCOKEnnected” - a memoir, available at Amazon.com. She is also the founder & CEO of ILDK Media, a Los Angeles-based entertainment PR company – www.ILDKMedia.net.
Miss the last "Singled Out"? Read it here.