Dr. Oz is getting on my nerves

Most of us by now have watched Dr. Oz on TV. He’s the NYC cardiologist ‘discovered’ by Oprah Winfrey (yes, Oprah again) who. like Dr. Phil and Rachel Ray also from her personal cabal, has gone on to host his own very successful TV show. If you’ve watched the show, you know the format: several brief segments during the show that cover a very wide variety of health issues on the minds (or at least they will be by the time Dr. Oz’s show gets finished with you) of his audience. Which – surprise – is predominately female middle class. Each show I’ve watched seems to include so many quick tips that you promise yourself you’ll bring pen and paper to the next show, there are just too many to remember.

I didn’t watch Dr. Oz while he was coming up during his appearances on the Oprah show. But I learned that he became famous for talking plainly about many of the biological realities of our lives that we find embarrassing to talk about. For example – our feces. Or ‘poop’, as Dr. Oz calls it. He was right to start talking about that and educating us on what healthy poop should look, smell and – you get the idea – he gave us a profile of healthy digestion as evidenced by our waste. His frankness combined with his credentials (I believe he’s very top-tier as a physician) and his winning good looks have brought him a lot of fame.

But his show has always been irritating to me. First, there is the Dr. himself – or should I say, his communication style. He speed-talks like crazy! He always seems to be racing through what he has to say as if he’s about to collapse from shortness of breath (he should see a cardiologist about that). I realize there is a lot to cram in between commercials, but the effect of his rapid delivery is information overload at best, and a manic message at worst. We feel hurried through one segment to the next, before we have a chance to digest the information. (And we know what that does to our poop!)

Beyond style, however, is the more serious matter of substance. I confess that I’m not a regular viewer. But when I have watched the show (and I believe it’s getting worse over time) he  seems to be increasingly shilling quick fix health tips that are too often about weight loss and maintenance (remember the audience).  Eat sunflower seeds and get rid of your gut.  Take this obscure root and soak it in vinegar, then drink it daily to lose weight. Just walk everywhere and you’ll be fit. Look, I realize it’s TV and no one has more than a one-minute attention span any more. But having this elite Manhattan physician up there huckstering like this makes my head vibrate with cognitive dissonance.

But what really motivated this post didn’t even happen on Dr. Oz’s show. Recently, he was the featured guest on the Piers Morgan Show. There was a quickie analysis of Morgan’s health (he’s got high blood pressure); some audience Q&A and a few questions from Piers on this and that. At one point, Piers brought up the recent mass murder of children in Sandy Hook, asking Dr. Oz for his reaction, anticipating some kind of wise pronouncement (I guess Piers Morgan is also getting on my nerves)  given, I presume, that Oz is a medical doctor and has some special insight into the human condition. I’m guessing here. In any case, Dr. Oz’s response was ridiculous. It was a semi-conherent, non-sequitur statement that didn’t even cite the real miseries of the event; instead, he reached down into his grab bag of commentary he uses in his show about – to be honest, I can’t even recall, because it was so unrelated to the question. And it definitely disappointed Morgan, who had nothing to say to it because it had nothing to say to the question.  Yes, I know Dr. Oz is likely a great guy and means well. He even went to Sandy Hook in the wake of the event there (oh yes, there was TV coverage of it, as splashed across the screen while Piers asked his question). What I wonder is, why did he  deliver that canned non-answer.  Maybe I’m being too hard on Dr. Oz. After all, there are no quick tips when it comes to digesting the massacre of 20 little children in the machine gun-crazy society in which Dr. Oz  lives and prospers.

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