Sunday, November 27, 2005

Speaking of Oprah

Speaking of Oprah, I'm reading a quite dazzling work of cultural criticism by sociologist Eva Illouz. Oprah Winfrey and the Glamour of Misery (Columbia University Press, 2003) is Illouz's analysis of how Winfrey has fashioned an empire out of suffering and moral certitude. This is a must-read for students of culture and fans of Oprah. Illouz, along with Steve Salerno—from a quite different vantage—have made me rethink my position on the role of victimization in self-help culture.

Steve Salerno and Mr. "Chicken Soup" Hansen

Check out Steve Salerno's blog for the back story on how he wound up talking with Mr. "Chicken Soup" Hansen instead of that giant of the self-help industry, Tony Robbins.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Soup Slurping: Wrong, Wrong, and Wrong

One more slurp regarding the Chicken Soup expert's "facts" . . .

In his CNN Anderson Cooper 360 interview, Mark Hansen says that only Americans have self-help culture and that Andrew Carnegie started it all.

on both counts.

Ben Franklin's book The Way to Wealth (1758) predates Carnegies' The Gospel of Wealth (1900) and The Empire of Business (1902) by well over a hundred years.

And Scottish author Samuel Smiles' Self-Help (1859) was the first book ever with "self-help" in the title.

And Hansen has the gall to call Steve Salerno incompetent.

Make that wrong on three counts.

"Chicken Soup" Cockfight

Mark Hansen, co-founder of the bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul inspirational book series, faced-off with Steve Salerno, author of SHAM: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless last week on Anderson Cooper 360.

Hansen came out claws a-swinging, spurs a-flashing, calling Salerno "incompetent" for not expecting SHAM to be a #1 bestseller. It's just amazing how these saccharine-soaked-self-help authors go for the jugular when anyone dares to suggest that their advice might not be all that helpful . . . or worse, that it might be damaging.

Read more here or download a video clip to check it out!