Seal, Did You Really Think You Could Come for Oprah?


So, this week was all about the 2018 Golden Globes. The black dresses, the political messages, the speeches and presentation zingers. But who remembers the winners – except for James Franco for all the worst reasons – when Oprah gave the acceptance speech heard ’round the world?

Winfrey was the first African-American woman to ever receive the Cecil B. DeMille award, and after her thank you there was barely a dry eye in the house – at the event or in a million viewer’s living rooms. People are still talking about it. It was that fabulous. I actually got teary eyed, and I saw it a day late after hearing everyone raving.

It really was a perfect speech: gracious, timely, relevant with all its #MeToo and #TimesUp poignancy. It was also extremely well executed, with a 360-degree narrative that wove the past and present into an engaging and heartfelt tug on your emotions. Winfrey obviously prepared, but you couldn’t tell, if you know what I mean. It just flowed. The speech was so well done it prompted countless flattering leadership comparisons, and La Oprah is now a favorite for the next presidential election.

Of course, someone had to be a detractor. Stepping forward to take the role of the unnecessary and fairly irrelevant peanut gallery we have Seal, the British-born singer whose last hit was in like, 1995. He called out Winfrey on social media for being a hypocrite, “part of the problem,” alleging that she’s known Harvey Weinstein was a sexual predator for years. He even offered pics of Winfrey kissing Weinstein.

But here’s the problem with that. From what I’ve heard/read everyone in that circle knew at least something about Weinstein. His reputation was a running joke in Hollywood. But he had power, so no one said anything about it. The actresses who did – Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd, for instance – make up a list of once famous A-listers who can provide fodder for the trivia question, “Where are they now?”

It wasn’t time for the big reveal. Sadly, I suppose Harvey’s denouement happened when it was supposed to, roughly three months ago and several decades too late for scores of abused women.

Winfrey may have heard the rumors. But like so many women who later commented this or that for the record, her personal experience with the man might have been completely above board, maybe even pleasant.

After all, she wasn’t his type. Winfrey was too powerful, with even more juice than him. Sexual predators go after those they perceive as weaker, someone who can be influenced or swayed by dangling a carrot or imposing a real – or imagined – sanction. La Oprah doesn’t fit that description at all.

But none of that is my point. I wanna know why exactly would Seal bash Winfrey? What purpose did his attack serve? I mean, especially now that he’s backtracking like he’s doing the cha cha.

Seal had to know that his POV wouldn’t go over well. How could he not know that his remarks would get a ton of attention, most of it negative? Could he be so insensitive – or perhaps quietly pissed that women are #MeTooing all over the place and reclaiming their power – that he didn’t realize his comments are an unnecessary distraction from a very important issue? Or – and I’m okay with you calling me a cynic – does he have a concert coming up soon and he needed unpaid marketing support via press attention?

‘Cuz, I gotta tell ya, I’m not seeing much value in his actions beyond something that quick, cheap and dirty. I doubt his apology went over well with anyone with an actual brain because it’s very obviously in response to the heat he got after he opened his mouth and bashed an icon that everyone and their mother is fangirl-ing over.

And suggesting that Winfrey is part of the problem? Lumping her in with so many others in #SanctimoniousHollywood? What’s the point of that kind of blame shifting? It’s not like he’s led a spotless life where he never made mistakes, thus can afford to point the finger and assess and/or judge another person’s guilt.

More importantly, this situation with Harvey Weinstein lasted for decades. Of the many people – men and women – who turned a blind eye and allowed his disgusting behavior to continue unchecked, I could actually see Winfrey remaining outside that bubble.

She’s a media mogul – emphasis on the mogul – and has been for a very long time. Her purview is vastly different from the average Hollywood actress, as is the type of information people are likely to share with her. Furthermore, she began her career as a journalist. She’s not likely to judge someone and speak about it openly based on rumors. But when the evidence came out, she, like so many who knew of the situation but weren’t sure what exactly to make of it without concrete proof or a personal connection, felt free to condemn and comment.

Unfortunately, that’s the culture we live in. Women have to prove – exhaustively in some cases – that they’ve been mistreated to get any recourse. The whole point of the #MeToo movement is that women are now telling their stories. Now. They’re coming forward, and they’re sharing openly. Before this was hidden, albeit in plain sight. This was a powerful man – a series of powerful men as it turns out – who had two very distinct faces. One uber charming for the public, and one exceptionally gross behind closed doors.

Seal is not a newbie to the public eye. He knows how the media game works. The guy’s a Grammy-winner, a one-time international sex symbol, he was married to Heidi Klum for Pete’s sake. If he didn’t know that now infamous post on Instagram would ignite a poo storm of epic proportions, he frickin’ should have.

Before you get on social media and take a controversial stand, or run off at the mouth, you need to be sure you know what you’re doing and why. Ask yourself some questions:

  1. What is the purpose of my message?
  2. What could be the short and long-term repercussions of releasing this message?
  3. Am I fully prepared for a mélange of responses – including potentially image tarnishing backlash – once the message has been released?

If you can’t provide solid, reasoned answers for these questions, do yourself a favor and just shut up.

All in all, La O’s recent time on stage at the Globes was, as I read in one Inc.com piece, a blueprint for the perfect acceptance speech. Ultimately, Seal’s foolishness only added to its patina. When you bring the house down like that some naysayer may be able to distract from your shine temporarily, but the core message – and the incredible feeling it inspires – will remain true.

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