Friday, June 21, 2013

Karma catches up with Paula Deen

Food Network personality Paula Deen has had a lousy week. First there was the (likely unexpected) splash that was made by her admission in a deposition that she not only had used the N-word in conversation — an admission that I can't imagine too many people have clean enough hands to make hay about, by the way — but that she had fantasized about making her brother's wedding a "Southern plantation" kind of celebration, complete with middle-aged black men in shorts and white shirts with bow ties. Yeah, that's quite an image.

(If you're wondering why the conversation wandered into this decidedly offbeat terrain, it's because the lawsuit, filed by an ex-employee of the restaurant Deen and her brother jointly own, alleges racial discrimination on the part of the restaurant's management.)

And now the not entirely unexpected other shoe has dropped, which is a neat metaphor in this case because the other shoe is Food Network dropping Deen.

A network spokeswoman said it would not renew Ms. Deen’s contract when it expired at the end of June.
Now, for my part Deen's (hitherto) deeply internalized insensitivity to, and seemingly profound ignorance of, racial stereotypes actually isn't such a big deal. She apologized, for one thing, and not using the mealy-mouthed "if I offended anyone" formulation that unapologetic but reputation-sensitive boors employ.
“I was wrong, yes, I’ve worked hard, and I have made mistakes, but that is no excuse and I offer my sincere apology to those that I have hurt, and I hope that you forgive me because this comes from the deepest part of my heart.”
Perhaps if her deposition remarks had been the first blot on Deen's escutcheon, I'd be angrier. They weren't, though, and the other well-publicized blot makes this one look like a mere water stain.

You see, she suffers from Type 2 diabetes. This would earn her my sympathy except that she concealed the news of her illness for three years, only announcing it after she had secured an endorsement deal for a diabetes medication. I blogged about this last year when the news broke. I was incensed then, and I'm still incensed now.

She refused even to risk damaging her brand until she was ready to spin the news to her profit. And that profit will come right out of the pockets of those whose health suffered by being her fans. Yep: first they paid for her cookbooks, now they'll shell out for her drug. Talk about getting it coming and going.
To be racially clueless, or even bigoted, pales in comparison to being an opportunistic vulture who first makes people sick, then profits from their illness.

Food Network should have dropped her last year, when she announced that despicable endorsement deal. Still, I'll take what karmic justice I can get.

Good riddance, Paula. You've done more than enough to deserve your current woes.

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