Days after Oprah Winfrey electrified the Golden Globe Awards with a speech highlighting the campaign against sexual misconduct, the British singer Seal has attacked her, claiming the global celebrity is a hypocrite and “part of the problem for decades”.
At this week’s awards, Ms Winfrey delivered a widely-admired speech in which she talked about challenging racial and gender discrimination and praising the way women had spoken out in the aftermath of allegations of sexual assault levelled at producer Harvey Weinstein and others.
“For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men,” said Ms Winfrey, who within hours was being talked of as a possible presidential candidate for 2020.
Not everyone appreciated Ms Winfrey’s comments. Among those to voice criticism of her was the Grammy-winning British singer and songwriter, 54-year-old Seal.
The man formerly married to Heidi Klum and famous for songs such as Kiss from a Rose, republished a pair of photos of Ms Winfrey with Mr Weinstein, including one in which she appeared to be kissing the producer’s cheek. On top of the photos were the words: “When you have been part of the problem for decades, but suddenly they all think you are the solution.”
Seal, who was born Henry Olusegun Adeola Samuel, added a sarcastic comment that suggested Ms Winfrey knew Mr Weinstein was mistreating women.
“Oh I forgot, that’s right….you’d heard the rumours but you had no idea he was actually serially assaulting young stary-eyed actresses who in turn had no idea what they were getting into. My bad,” he wrote. To complete his post he used the hashtag #SanctimoniousHollywood.
Last month, Ms Winfrey spoke out in the aftermath of the claims alleged at Mr Weinstein by dozens of women – allegations he denies – and others in the industry.
“Everybody has a story and so I think this is a watershed moment. If we make this just about Harvey Weinstein, then we will have lost this moment,” Ms Winfrey told CBS.
“I think this is a moment, where no matter what business you work in, the women who not only had the disease to please, that’s a part of it, but who felt that in order to keep my job, to keep my position, in order to keep moving forward…I’ve got to smile. I’ve gotta look the other way. I’ve got to pretend he didn’t say that. He didn’t touch me. Those days are about to be over.”
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Previously she had written about the scandal in a statement posted on her Facebook page.
“I’ve been processing the accounts of Harvey Weinstein’s hideous behaviour and haven’t been able to find the words to articulate the magnitude of the situation,” she wrote:
Filmmaker James Schamus captured so much of what I’ve been feeling when he said ‘This is the story of one predator and his many victims’; but it is also a story about an overwhelming systemic enabling, and until that story is fully told we will fall far short of stopping future depredations on a similar scale.
“Thanks to the brave voices we’ve heard this week, many more will now be emboldened to come forward EVERY time this happens. I believe a shift is coming.”
Fox News said comedian Seth MacFarlane had raised questions about a possible run for the White House by Ms Winfrey, saying celebrity power did not alone qualify a candidate for the presidency.
“Oprah is beyond doubt a magnificent orator,” Mr MacFarlane wrote. “But the idea of a reality show star running against a talk show host is troublingly dystopian. We don’t want to create a world where dedicated public service careers become undesirable and impractical in the face of raw celebrity.”