June 25, 2005

Oprah Does(and doesn’t) Paris

Oprah Winfrey’s pissed off at Hermes, because their Paris store wouldn’t let her in to shop 15 minutes after closing(they were apparently having a promotional event, and she wasn’t on the invitation list). They probably wouldn’t have let me in after closing either, but I’d understand. Oprah doesn’t, because like many celebrities, she obviously feels that she’s ”more important” than any mere mortal(remember the big hoopla they made when she had to do jury duty, the media gave it nearly identical coverage to that of the Ronald Reagan memorial service). Yeah, sure, when Oprah’s inconvenienced, it’s big news.

Ms. Winfrey claims it was because she is black.

You go to a store after it closes. They refuse you admittance because they are closed, read the sign, lady! “But I’m Oprah! Surely a mere Closed sign doesn’t apply to me! It must be because I’m black!”

Now, she plans to boycott Hermes and do a show on the affair, despite a profuse official apology from Hermes.

However, on another side of the story,

According to the New York Post, a witness who was with Oprah when she tried to get into the store claims that the talk show host was told that “We’ve been having a problem with North Africans.”

Most North Africans I’ve met have been Arabs, who’ve been swarthy rather than black.

If this remark was actually made, Oprah does have some reason for being a little miffed.

My only reservation here is that I’ve been in several such highbrow stores, most recently Gucci to buy someone a present, and from what I’ve seen, the employees and managers are extremely civilized, polite and well spoken people(you don’t hire abrasive types to deal with customers who might buy single small items from you that are marked up into the thousands of dollars), not the sort to make such remarks.

When I lived in Nevada I worked for a busy casino, and as a casino employee, like employees of stores like Hermes, one thing you learn damn quick is that judging a customer’s spending power by appearance(excluding obvious types like winos, speed freaks, junkies, etc) is extremely foolish. We had regular high rollers who looked like day laborers, one even an old mega-alcoholic who looked the part, who didn’t give a second thought to, let alone worry about dropping $30,000.00 plus on a 21 table in under 2 hours three or four times a week. We had low-income “looking” black regulars who made $5,000.00 sports bets on two or three games a day. In stores like Hermes, employees are usually reaaalllly careful how they talk to people.

My point is, was this racial remark really made, or was this account fabricated? I’m so used to hearing the racial card played that I’ve gone beyond the giving of the doubt that someone levelling such a charge is telling the truth. I’m not from Missouri, but in such a case you have to “show” me.

Of course, this happened in Paris, so it might have happened just as stated. Why? Because the employee alleged to have made the comment was probably French and as we know, the French are “different.”  

by @ 5:32 am. Filed under Trivial Events
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