Around this time last year, an issue of GQ ignited the sort of minor flare-up now commonplace in our entertainment culture. What set it off was an interview with Chris Bridges, a.k.a. Ludacris, which included a complaint about Oprah Winfrey. Apparently some of the rapper’s comments had been edited out when he appeared on Oprah’s enormously successful daytime talk show. That didn’t sit well with Ludacris, who sounded the cry of an anti-hip-hop bias, speculating that he had been invited on the show only because of his role in Crash, then an Oscar-nominated film.
The sharks, smelling blood, began to circle. “Maybe she’s got a problem with hip-hop,” groused Ice Cube, an old-school rap provocateur, in a different glossy rag. A more contemporary antihero, 50 Cent, dismissed Oprah’s work as a divertissement for middle-class white women. Finally there was a response to the criticism, sort of, when MTV cornered the media baroness on a red carpet: “I respect other people’s rights to do whatever they want to do in music and art and whatever. So I am my own person, they are their own people.” Winfrey added: “I feel rap is a form of expression, as is jazz.”