Yesterday I saw where a certain Food Network personality (I just can’t call them “Stars,” for it sounds so silly and pretentious) not only has several shows on FN, but as well is on a network game show, and now has made a commercial for insurance. This Food Network personality isn’t the only one who has saturated the airwaves with their face and products to where every time I turn around, there they are, grinning at me.
I compare that with a FN personality such as Ina Garten—the ever gracious, classy, and beautiful Ina Garten has one FN show and in that show I know what to expect, I feel comforted by her and the way she is The Same even as I am learning something new–her food and recipes are accessible and delicious. She does have a few products out there for those of us who need a little extra help, but I’ve never seen her do a commercial for Her Product or anything else. And I continue to adore watching Ina Garten.
On the news last night, I listened to the newscaster speak of an author whose book about “a spiritual quest” went viral and was made into a movie and now has gone further with its success and decided to make trinkets and candles and other doodle dee dahs. When asked about “selling out her original idea of the book” the author said, in defense, something to the effect that if a person couldn’t take the journey as she did, why, then they could buy a candle. I burst out laughing. I couldn’t help it—it seemed such a funny thing to say. I guess I expected her to be slightly embarrassed and maybe just admit it all got away from her, became this huge monster, and shrug her shoulders in a bit of an overwhelmed “Dang!” But, I wondered at the backlash that is happening because of, in the words of the newscaster, potential “Selling Out.” Is it selling out? We don’t always think this, or do we?, when a writer makes it big and the STUFF machine cranks out STUFF. Still . . .
It has me thinking: how much is too much? When does it become about Greed and not about the original purpose? Does it matter? Is it really all about making as much money as we can when we can do it? When does a personality become too big for their own britches—so big that they topple over from their own success/excess/access?
One may point out that Oprah is Too Big—but I don’t know: somehow she climbed up without “selling out,” didn’t she? She did her show, and later, her magazine—do you see Oprah perfume, or Oprah clothing, Oprah Spatulas, or Oprah this and that and the other please buy me buy me buy me and anything I attach my name to even if it has nothing to do with Me? Other than the one Superbowl commercial, do you see her touting insurance or butter spreads or cheese or spatulas or restaurants or fast food places? Is she on another show other than her own that has nothing to do with her original show? Unless I’m missing something (and feel free to correct me!), the answer to those questions is No. Oprah knows what she is good at and she concentrated her efforts in those areas. She became a name, a force, but she never sold out, right?
We as consumers of whatever is being sold to us—whether it is a product, a show, an idea, a book, a Pesonality, et cetera—have the power to Turn the Channel, or Not Buy, or Say Enough is Enough. So are these people who saturate the airwaves and the shelves and put their fingers in every little pie both sweet and savory doing themselves a favor, or are they placing themselves at risk of the old “I AM SO SICK OF (fill in blank). . .” *eye roll*