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August 12, 2013

First World Racism

first-world-problems.jpgThe Editorial Staff apologize for the lack of posts. Ever since we learned of Oprah's disturbing, racially tinged encounter with a rude sales clerk in Switzerland, we've been unable to get out of bed. The crushing sense of despair has been just too upsetting to deal with. It's hard to believe this sort of thing is still happening - and in the enlightened Eurozone, no less! Aren't our European brethren and sistren supposed to be deliciously free of the foul and lingering stench of America's slaveowning past?

Apparently not, and it's not hard to discern the Tea Party's fine Italian hand at work.

What kind of world are we living in when a woman (!) at the very pinnacle of income inequality - the veritable 1 percenty-est of the 1 percent - can't walk into a store in a foreign country and purchase a $40,000 handbag?

When Oprah Winfrey goes shopping, she likely prompts intelligent retailers' eyes to bulge with anticipation the moment she walks in the door. But, it seems, only if they recognize the media mogul as the mega-rich potential client she really is.

Oprah told Entertainment Tonight this week that while in Zurich, Switzerland for Tina Turner's wedding in July, she walked into a shop and a handbag behind the counter caught her eye.

While many average shoppers might hesitate to lay hands on a bag with worth close to $40,000, Oprah says she asked to see it, but the shopkeeper said, "No. It's too expensive."

Oprah -- who made $77 million in the last year alone, according to Forbes magazine -- told ET's Nancy O'Dell she asked to see the bag at least two more times, but the shopkeeper refused to take it off the shelf and suggested other, cheaper bags instead.

"One more time, I tried. I said, 'But I really do just want to see that one,' and the shopkeeper said, 'Oh, I don't want to hurt your feelings,' and I said, 'Okay, thank you so much. You're probably right, I can't afford it.' And I walked out of the store," Oprah recounted.

Seriously, folks - what good is it, becoming a filthy capitalist running pig-dog oppressor if you're not instantly recognized and groveled to by those pesky have-nots?

We are reminded of the time we strolled into a local BMW dealer and asked to test drive one of the cars on the lot. The Spousal Unit and Editorial Staff were nicely dressed (we even showered earlier in the month!), and yet the Sales Dude made it quite plain he didn't think we were at the right dealer.

Eventually we departed for a more economically-appropriate vendor, and a few hours later spent just a bit more than the BMW's asking price on two brand new cars.

Clearly, we should have thrown the White Card - there can be no other explanation but racism for the way we were treated. Millions of lynching victims are crying out from their unmarked graves at this traveshamockery.

Posted by Cassandra at August 12, 2013 05:58 AM

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Doesn't she have minions in charge of going out and overspending for her? I thought all rich, famous people put their effort into going incognito, so they wouldn't be pestered by people trying to sell them stuff or cadge their money.

I'm neither rich nor famous, but my instinct is to appear poorer than I am. Who wants to be the focus of avarice?

The Oprah story puts me in mind of the classic dress-shop scenes in "Pretty Woman." If you want people to be nice to the real you, you can't spend all your time with people who are trained to be nice to credit cards. And if you want people to be nice to your credit card, you have to give them the time-honored signals. If all else had failed, she could have pulled the "Do you know who I am?" gambit.

I'd have been irritated, too, in her place, but it should have been an opportunity for a really satisfying "you missed your chance" moment. As in, "I was thinking of ordering 100 of those for Christmas presents, but now I guess I'll try another store."

Posted by: Texan99 at August 12, 2013 10:22 AM

Its a pity that even from Oprah's lofty perch atop her earnings she can't see further than the color of her own nose. What a colossal fool.

Posted by: spd rdr at August 12, 2013 10:25 AM

I'm still trying to figure out exactly where the supposed insult because of skin color happened. Seems to me she was being judged on her clothing and appearance as much as anything...was she *slummin'* to avoid recognition?
Of course, we all know that Xerxes and his minions can only see the world through skin-colored glasses, so this incident was *obviously* due to the darkness of her skin.

Posted by: DL Sly at August 12, 2013 10:55 AM

If you shop in snooty stores, expect snooty sales staff. You have to look like money to be treated like money. the nouveau riche have this lesson to learn. Oprah obviously has not learned to look like her billions and still has not shed the poor black attitude.

Posted by: JP Blickenstaff at August 12, 2013 11:40 AM

Poor clerk is probably terrified for her job, and maybe the store coming after her for her lifesavings, if someone should so much as scratch that thing on her watch. Oprah insisted in hearing "That's too expensive for you," when it's very likely she meant, "That's too expensive for me to dare let anyone touch it."

Posted by: Grim at August 12, 2013 11:53 AM

The Guardian seems to think, and where in the world is there a better sniffer of bigotry, that it was a compound diss - racism/bigism. It may well be all a great misunderstanding; the saleslady was merely trying to be helpful; Oprah wanted a handbag, and the Swiss Ms. thought a portmanteau a better fit.

Posted by: George Pal at August 12, 2013 12:08 PM

I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the concept of a handbag that costs $40,000. What was it made of?

Woven platinum mesh?

Many years ago my Mom gave me what I thought was kind of a cute purse for Christmas or my birthday (can't recall which). I took it to work and several of the women in the office across the hall promptly went into raptures about it (after thoroughly scrutinizing the tag to make sure it was gen-u-ine).

Apparently, the manufacturer was the "it" brand that year. I had no clue until all the ooh-ing and ahhh-ing commenced. I later cut the tag off b/c it annoyed me, which caused much consternation amongst the tag inspecting set. Apparently that "ruined" it, somehow.

Posted by: Cass at August 12, 2013 12:17 PM

I got yelled at by the Tag Police for cutting the tag off of a Beanie Baby I bought for the VES years ago. They said, "You'll never be able to sell it for what it's worth now!" (Like that's what I bought it for in the first place.) I gave her the tag and said, "Here, if it's that important to you, you take it." And walked away.

Posted by: DL Sly at August 12, 2013 12:26 PM

I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the concept of a handbag that costs $40,000. What was it made of?


From a cow that ate only fescue grass exactly 5 centimeters long. Stitched with spider silk thread at a stich length determined by MIT engineers and placed individually at this precise location as measured by an electron microscope.

It lasts 0.00002543823 times longer than a regular purse.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at August 12, 2013 02:49 PM

I mean, she could have just whipped out her Amex card and said "Do you know who I am?"

Really, a $40K piece of merchandise? I wouldn't let just everybody finger it.

But...it's Oprah. That Swiss lady in the store? Drone strike.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at August 12, 2013 06:05 PM

Apparently, sometime during the work day the sales clerk came out and called Okrah a liar :p

Time to break out the popcorn ...

Posted by: Cass at August 12, 2013 06:35 PM

Oprah's people talked to the store's people, but no one talked to the clerk until Oprah did, and the clerk didn't recognize either her or her millions. Gnomes probably make real Gold Cards that "clink" when you drop them on the counter, and Oprah didn't have one.

Posted by: htom at August 12, 2013 09:14 PM

"I have a right to be a snob! These racists won't let me be a snob!"

Posted by: Texan99 at August 12, 2013 11:53 PM

The 'newvo' rich in umbrage over being inadequately respected by old snobbish society. They deserve each other.

Posted by: CAPT Mike at August 17, 2013 10:31 PM

There are some interesting points in time in this article but I don’t know if I see all of them center to heart. There is some validity but I will take hold opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we want more! Added to FeedBurner as well

Posted by: Saul Coppola at August 9, 2014 04:52 AM