Haven't we all heard quite enough about Paula Deen? Well, yes, but that's not going to stop me from throwing a few stones anyway.
Anyone who knows me knows I am not one of Paula's biggest fans. The reason for my contempt is quite simple: she's a con artist. That whole folksy, down-home Southern charm thing - while not an act, per-se - has definitely been exploited and exaggerated to help churn her into a commercial juggernaut, placing her in the top five of the biggest earning chefs, while also pandering to a society that has made the US the second fattest country in the world.
My biggest peeve with her is her absolute unabashed hypocrisy: While she was being treated for Type II Diabetes, she went in front of cameras and continued to push her butter agenda with fat-laden food and deserts. (Because as we all know when it comes to food, fat sells.) And then, only when she had successfully secured a multi-million dollar contract with pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk to hock their Diabetes drug Victoza, did she suddenly come out of the pantry. And then, while she's telling people about the dangers of eating too much fat and the importance of watching what you eat, she turns around and releases a line of tortilla chips, chocolate and "finishing butters" - which is really nothing but flavored butter that you smear on your food at the end of the cooking process instead of the beginning. This, my dear foodies - is the definition of hypocrisy.
So how exactly did Paula's empire of grease dissolve? Here's a breakdown:
March 6th, 2012 - Radar posts that a discrimination lawsuit has been filed against Deen and her brother Bubba. In the court documents the former employee stated what kind of a wedding Deen wanted:
“Well what I would really like is a bunch of little n***ers to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around. Now, that would be a true Southern wedding wouldn’t it? But we can’t do that because the media would be on me about that.”
Gee Paula, ya think? But for some reason, most people ignore this news until over a year later.
June 19, 2013 - The National Enquirer breaks the news that they have a copy of the deposition. Huffington Post confirms it with a copy of the transcript. In it, Deen explains that, "I can't, myself, determine what offends another person."
June 20th - The Daily Show grills up Paula nicely:
June 21st - Paula bails on a scheduled exclusive interview with Matt Lauer on the Today Show, issuing three separate video apologies instead. Social media explodes. A "We Support Paula Deen" Facebook page gets created.
Later that afternoon, Food Network gives her the axe.
June 23rd - An attorney for the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition adds fuel to the fire stating white employees are routinely paid more than black employees and are promoted more quickly. He also added that Paula allowed a "family member" in the restaurant that Paula and her brother own to regularly refer to one of the black employees as "my little monkey."
June 24th - Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork producer boots Paula.
June 26th - Paula finally gives a tear-filled interview with Matt Lauer on the Today show. Later that morning, Ceasars Entertainment - which owns four of Paula's themed buffets in various casinos around the country hops on the bandwagon deciding not to renew their agreement. That same day, Walmart also drops the Deen-branded line of cooking products that includes among other things, whistling tea kettles, rolling pins and (I kid you not) pie cutting boards.
June 27th - Pharma giant Novo Nordisk - sensing that Paula has become the third rail of celebrity endorsements decides that a bigoted racist made may not make the best choice to help hock their Diabetes drug. Later that day, Target jumps ship as well.
June 28th - QVC diplomatically decides to "take a pause" with Deen and her products for the next few months. The same day, JC Penny, Sears, Kmart all follow suit. In addition, book publisher Ballantine Books decides to pull Paula's latest book - likely a good decision as the book is titled “Paula Deen’s New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up”
I shed no tears for the fall of the Deen empire; She needed to go. Anyone that boasts about creating a hamburger that uses two glazed donuts instead of a bun, while also shilling herself for a Diabetes drug, has some moral issues to work out.
People are taking both sides of the issue with Paula. Some argue that she's just the latest sacrificial lamb in the media frenzy to create a story out of nothing. Some want her head on a pike. Either way, she was forced to face her bigotry head-on and confess her sins to the court of public opinion. And now she's paying the price for that. I don't think it was something she wanted to do (and her handlers have been in damage control ever since.) But it needed to happen. It should have happened long ago and she now has to deal with the consequences of her actions. "buy the ticket, take the ride," as the good doctor once said.
Anthony Bourdain once called Paula Deen "the worst, most dangerous person to America." From the health perspective alone, I sincerely hope that people are starting to realize this as well.