Oprah Winfrey's India TV Special Called 'Ignorant' and 'Snobbish': [ send to a friend ]
Oprah Winfrey appears to have done everything right before she decided to air her special show on India in Oprah's Next Chapter, which was televised last weekend on Discovery Channel India.
The two hour-long program ended up receiving heavy criticism from local reporters, due to Winfrey's insensitivity towards cultural affairs, especially after a visit to a Mumbai slum, where the media sensation commented about the tiny living conditions in one particular house.
This comment drew a strong reaction from commentator Rajyasree Sen, who said "She marveled at how all their clothes fit onto a small shelf. She pointedly avoided any mention of the massive LCD TV, which adorned their wall. That would have killed the sob story."
Sen went on to call Winfrey: "Myopic, unaware, ignorant and gauche." He wrote "this was Middle America at its best worst."
Another review of the show by a newspaper carried the headline "Snobbish Oprah Mocks India" as it remarked "Oprah was anything but a good guest when she went around the small room interrogating the family members about their 'poor' living style and 'miserly' living."
As if that wasn't enough, Winfrey was overheard posing the question "I heard some Indian people eat with their hands still?," a common practice in the country, during a lavish Bollywood party which was organized in her honor.
Aseem Chhabra, a reporter for the Mumbai Mirror, commented that: "It's all the stereotypes and all the clichés the West has, between the elephants and the palaces and the snake charmers and the cows. I think I expected a lot more from somebody like Oprah Winfrey".
In a statement, Winfrey's production company, HARPO, says that: "The intention of the program was to explore the beautiful culture and spirit of the country. We enjoyed the time we spent there and were touched by the people who so generously shared their stories for the show."
Winfrey even made news in India when the special was filmed in January after three of her bodyguards were involved in a scuffle with some reporters. They were later arrested and released after apologizing to the media.