It’s the beginning of the end. Oprah Winfrey has started the final season of her long running talk show. After 25 years, the queen of daytime television is signing off for good.

So . . . does this mean people will now start thinking for themselves?

Oh, c’mon. Don’t pretend like they don’t exist. I call them Oprah-nites: Oprah Winfrey fans who follow her every move, without question. It’s unclear how many actually exist in the world, but unscientific data show they are very large in number.

Case #008: In 1996, the British government announces that 10 people have died after eating beef from cattle infected with mad cow disease. Following the announcement, Oprah Winfrey hosts a show about the dangers of beef, in which she responds to the deaths, saying, “It has just stopped me cold from eating another burger.” Suddenly, cattle prices fall to record lows (a group of Texas cattle ranchers sued Winfrey for libel, but lost).

Probable Cause: The Oprah-nites.

Case #319: An employee of the Oprah Winfrey show shares a key-lime bundt cake with the big boss. Winfrey likes it so much she mentions it on the show as one of her favorite things. Suddenly, the company that makes the signature cake goes from being on the brink of bankruptcy to a million dollar business.

Probable Cause: The Oprah-nites.

Case #617- #620: Relative unknowns Rachael Ray, Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Nate Berkus, and, yes, Barack Obama become household names.

Probable Cause: The Oprah-nites.

No, I’m not saying Mr. Obama became president because of Oprah. Was she a big factor in him being elected? Absolutely! As one cable network put it, it’s called the Oprah Effect. Everything she endorses turns gold.

Now before you get all riled up, please understand I personally don’t have a problem with Oprah. I don’t know the woman. The problem is, neither do most of her fans! Yet, a large number of them follow her like the disciples followed Jesus. Isn’t it a little scary that many Christians follow the word of Oprah more than the word of God?

But that’s what we do. Be it the queen of daytime television or the king of pop, we create these idols and worship the ground they walk on (until they fall off their pedestals, and then we crucify them).

I’m not denying that Oprah has used her powers for good. She raised awareness about puppy mills, encouraged drivers not to text and drive, and, of course, introduced women to Spanx. But good or bad, no celebrity should have that much influence on your personal life.

So, here’s my theory for Oprah’s final show. Maybe (just maybe) it will be her best giveaway show ever:

“Open your boxes . . . You get a brain! You get a brain! You get a brain! Everybody gets a brain!”

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