For the record, and I say this with all the love in my heart, I’ve never liked Paula Deen. It was a combination of her accent and personality, which were pretty unavoidable, and I rarely, if ever, watched any of her shows. This didn’t stop me from finding her recipes online and praising her for her regular use of butter by the pound, but Paula Deen, TV Personality left me wanting. A lot.
As a regular viewer of the Food Network and regular eater of the butter, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about her most recent antics that got her essentially nixed and why I totally stand with the network.
Officially, things really started to decline for poor Paula when it was revealed that, due to her eating habits and supposed lack of exercise, she’d ended up on the Type II Diabetes bandwagon and then hid it for as long as she could while encouraging the rest of America (specifically those of the homemaker variety, I’m assuming, although that’s more speculation on my part because I’m not that interested in finding the statistics online. But really … I feel like that’s who she was really aiming for) to add an extra stick of butter just to show them you care. When the news broke, she underwent an immediate and nearly overnight transformation that took her from lard lover to healthy substitute maven, and something about that felt kind of like — how shall I put this — a ploy. I mean, I felt for the gal — after all, FDR went his entire presidency without anyone knowing he had polio, so I can see why she’d hoped to escape the press, but when you live in the 21st century and have a household name, it’s inevitable. Some sort of crash will occur.
But that didn’t deter America or the Food Network, and they pushed forward, re-branding her, re-sizing her, and creating an all-new empire for the Deen family that included healthy recipes that tasted like the real thing and a lot more vegetables not poached in butter or, you know, animal fat (which, if we’re going to be really honest here, is how I like them). And that was pretty much fine. Three cheers for a healthy casserole. So it didn’t seem like the crash was all that bad, and the lady bounced back in an almost weird way (to me), and it seemed like everything was going to be good for eternity.
And then that deposition happened.
Now, we’ve all read every Buzzfeed about it, I know we have, so I’m not going to bore you with yet another internet recap, so let’s go ahead and break this thing down.
1. I don’t see why it’s okay to use the word, whether an individual has just attempted armed robbery (and do we have proof this occurred? I mean, I’m just saying) or is just walking down the street being his/herself. I’ve worked in the restaurant industry, and I can nearly testify that the skeeviest, most offensive and foul people seem to work there. Racial slurs coming out of blue-eyed Paula’s mouth? Yeah, I can see it.
2. So she grew up in a different generation. I totally get that — I do. I’ve stopped counting the number of times an older person (who probably served in either WWII or the Vietnam War) has made some sort of racial comment that was probably not malicious but nevertheless there and really awkward. [And while we’re on the topic guys, THE ORIENT HASN’T BEEN A PLACE FOR A REALLY LONG TIME. SO LET’S STOP CALLING ME ORIENTAL.*] But you let that one slide with Grandpa. You don’t really let it slide with people who are constantly in the public eye.
3. This leads to her generally cavalier attitude about it when she was first caught red-handed. It was like, “Well yeah, hasn’t everyone? Duh,” and I’d say that’s ultimately what really offended people. Like when good old Mitt strapped his sick dog to the roof of his car — certainly we were all really dismayed that happened, but then we were even MORE upset when he said he wouldn’t do it again because people didn’t react favorably to it. Like if it wouldn’t affect his running, he’d totally do it again.
4. And then she cried and cried and cried. Like Jason Mesnick on “The Bachelor.” While I should probably feel pleased that she made several (and I mean SEVERAL) attempts to ensure all of the world knew how sorry she was, I mostly feel all cringey inside. *shudders* One Youtube apology is probably enough.
5. Let’s set something really, really straight right here, right now. Paula Deen wasn’t actually fired from the Food Network. They simply made the smart business choice to not re-up her contract, which is entirely within their right. And let’s look at this from a business perspective.
- There are several famous chefs on the Food Network who are not Caucasian, and it would feel kind of fishy and hypocritical (and awkward — let’s not forget awkward) to have all that housed under one umbrella together. Although I imagine, late late one night/morning, someone at the network considered making a show with Paula and, I don’t know, Sunny Anderson, to show how utopian the food world really is. That was probably dropped after a few seconds.
- At the end of the day, the Food Network is a business. Nothing more. They want to make money, they want to be successful, they want people to like them. A situation like this will inevitably lead to an enormous divide — if they’d kept her on, people would have protested, had they decided to part ways as they did, people would have protested. It was ultimately a real lose/lose situation for them, which they probably didn’t love all that much. But it’s probably easier to deal with the protesters who are in favor of using the N word because (and I swear to you, this is paraphrasing what dozens of PD fans wrote online) “They call each other that, so they shouldn’t be offended when we do.”
- . . .
6. Not all minorities use racial epithets casually. I know there are some that do, but there are also some Democrats who hunt and some Republicans who are gay, so that argument is pretty moot in my opinion. And I can say pretty firmly that there’s a pretty big group of us who don’t care for them one bit.
7. I don’t think this was a harsh decision to be made. Although they have a well-documented love for Bobby Flay and Guy Fieri (it’s almost embarrassing, you guys), there are several Food Network stars who have come and gone over the years, so Paula Deen can join the pity party with them. And it’s not as though the Food Network is the only place where she can continue her probably world-wide fame. I’m sure another network will pick her up as soon as her Food contract is up, and even if they don’t, the woman can just keep on cranking out cookbook after cookbook after cookbook. It’s not like we should feel that bad for her. Think of it like an NBA player whose injury has led to his athletic demise. Dude’s still living in a mansion.
So move onward and upward, Paula Deen. Learn from those really bad mistakes you’ve made again and again, avoid frozen hams, get a new PR manager (and then another for good measure), and keep on keepin’ on. And Food Network? Really, when those people say they’re never going to watch you ever again for the rest of eternity because you dropped her, they were just kidding. I’m sure of it.
*Things that are Oriental: fine tapestry rugs, Top Ramen, a famous trading company that sells cheap, plastic toys in bulk.