• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

David Ross

The rise and fall of Paula Deen

203 posts in this topic

Oh Paula, how the mighty rise--and fall. Paula Deen rose to the peak of the mountain, developing a multi-million dollar "brand" with a foundation rooted in multiple shows on the Food Network showcasing her "aw shucks, y'all, butter is better," form of scripted Southern hospitality. A line of cookbooks, cookware, restaurants and crates of Gooey Buttercakes sold in Walmart would follow.

The world of the celebrity "Chef," (more appropriately titled "Food Personality"), would at first glance seem to be the last province of media attention. I mean really, how can cooks be as popular as the Kardashians? Certainly, recognizable cooks on PBS, people like Hubert Keller, Lydia Bastianich and their cousin from the BBC, Rick Stein, would never allow personal foibles to overwhelm their public personna--they are, by definition, experienced, talented, creative and passionate teachers. They most likely live with the regret of having once said something they would now take back, yet they seem to understand, (without much effort), that it is the food and the cooking that matters the most in the end. They haven't allowed themselves to get caught up in the trendy celebrity culture of the day--a cuture that builds one into an indestructible icon only to feast upon their sudden and irreparable downfall.

Now we have poor Paula Deen, the "Food Personality," the woman who overcame personal phobias and broken relationships to rise up to become the next Rachel Ray. From what we see, Paula surrounded herself with a bumbling gaggle of media representatives, fawning personal assistants and nervous network executives worried more about how the public perception could damage the brand rather than seeing the proof was in making a good butterscotch pudding. All we wanted was Paula's butterscotch pudding. But this charming woman from Savannah, Georgia, the Grandmother with the sassy laugh and pronounced Southern drawl, fell in a flurry of criticism stoked by the modern machinations of the media storm in which she flourished. It started a few years back when she was diagnosed with diabetes, yet her appetite for feeding the "brand," (making cheeseburgers sandwiched between donuts), was more important than being truthful to her congregation. Shilling for a drug company seemed to be Paula's answer for quieting the criticism of a public outraged that she was pushing fat-laden foods on people suffering from diabetes. "Eat what you want, a shot a day will fix that" was what we were told. You could hear the voice of Jimmy Swaggert singing from the choir-"Forgive me Lord, for I have sinned," and platters of fried chicken were passed around as repentance for all.

When you get through the tangled web this situation has become--the sudden cancellation of a confessional in front of Matt Lauer on the Today show, the stunning dismissal from Food Network hours later and the attorneys bum-rushing the doors to the courthouse--you are left with a sense of sadness. At the heart and soul of this beloved Southern woman in her 60's seemed to be a deep-seated cultural ignorance of the most devisive issue in American history. By her own admission, she had a fluid use of one of the most abhorrent words ever spoken, yet her ignorance that her behavior was nothing more than a joke was just as striking as the words she uttered in a court deposition. It seemed as if she thought the characters portrayed by Hattie McDaniel 70 years ago were still relevant today and tragically, the promise and joy Paula Deen brought to so many by cooking comfortable food suddenly ended.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In other words, the outrage industrial complex strikes again.


Edited by sigma (log)
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It has nothing to do with blaming the media. Clearly you think an admission that at some time in her life she used a horrid word combined with the unproven allegations of a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit amounts to a firing offense.

I cannot figure out whether you overstated the known facts about her "fluid" use of the word because you wanted to or because it fit in so well with the overly florid writing of your post. Can you explain? Also, you call civil rights the most "decisive" issue in American history. I don't know whether you meant "divisive" or whether you have an odd view of history. Basically, the writing of your original post makes it impossible to know what you mean to say at all.


Edited by sigma (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Love her or hate her, Paula Deen is in BIG trouble because she was honest, admitted mistakes and apologized....if she'd lied and covered it up, there would be no issue. Think about that.


~Martin

Unsupervised rebellious radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader and adventurous cook. Crotchety cantankerous terse curmudgeon, nonconformist, contrarian and natural born skeptic who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Paula has just proved that honesty in a deposition, isn't the best policy.

Paula is an old woman with a limited education who hails from a town that is a wide place in the road, not from Savannah. The people in her hometown have a pronounced drawl such as hers. She can't be stupid or she wouldn't have parlayed her brand and her restaurants into an empire. She's a good mother who has secured her sons' futures by launching them on their own careers.

The problem lies in the deposition she gave regarding a lawsuit her brother "Bubba" is involved in about an incident that took place years ago. The salacious parts (OMG! Someone surfed porn at the workplace! This has never happened before! Ever! Someone slapped a waitress on the fanny! Someone told a dirty joke! Someone said "Nigga please"!) are fodder for those who hate her and the race baiters and PC police. Further, the anecdote about her planning her brother's wedding and the language used would seem to be hearsay to this non-lawyer.

I was raised by Southerners and seldom were the racial slurs used, usually by my Arkansas grandpa when he's had a few. It wasn't until I moved to the North, the Rust Belt to be precise, that I encountered such racism as I'd never seen or heard before. The really terrible part of this racism, was that it was so casual and seemed to be used by everyone from child to granny.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It has nothing to do with blaming the media. Clearly you think an admission that at some time in her life she used a horrid word combined with the unproven allegations of a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit amounts to a firing offense.

I cannot figure out whether you overstated the known facts about her "fluid" use of the word because you wanted to or because it fit in so well with the overly florid writing of your post. Can you explain? Also, you call civil rights the most "decisive" issue in American history. I don't know whether you meant "divisive" or whether you have an odd view of history. Basically, the writing of your original post makes it impossible to know what you mean to say at all.

I agree with you that it has nothing to do with the media--yet Paula was the one who blamed the media in the second version of the video she posted on You Tube yesterday. Quite frankly, I get terribly frustrated by celebrities who themselves are members of the media, yet blame the media for anything bad that comes their way. While the lawsuit is still pending in the courts, Paula clearly admitted in her sworn, taped deposition that she used that language so yes, I would support Food Network not renewing her contract. I suppose it's a matter of semantics and how you parse the words, but I agree that "divisive" is a more clear word than "decisive."

I'm merely one voice. The public who buys her products and watches her on television will be the final Judge of whether or not her choice of words and the work environment she fostered for her employees will end her career as a celebrity of the food world. Russ Parsons piece in the LA Times gives a historical perspective on other celebrites of the food world who fell hard and fast. Some, like Robert Irvine, resurrected their careers. Others, like Jeff Smith, didn't survive. http://www.latimes.com/features/food/dailydish/la-dd-paula-deen-past-food-scandals,0,3641631.story

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jeff Smith was a pervert. Who cares if Paula used politically incorrect speech? Does anyone here ever watch any other cooking shows and listen or try to listen to the sound between the bleeps? It would appear that kitchen/restaurant staff have lost the ability to speak without swearing a blue streak. Everything except f*** is bleeped out. I guess it is okay to take the Lord's name in vain or the legitimacy of another's birth, call a woman a b**** or a man a lot of other things. But toss out a remark about one's race? Katie bar the door.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jeff Smith was a pervert. Who cares if Paula used politically incorrect speech? Does anyone here ever watch any other cooking shows and listen or try to listen to the sound between the bleeps? It would appear that kitchen/restaurant staff have lost the ability to speak without swearing a blue streak. Everything except f*** is bleeped out. I guess it is okay to take the Lord's name in vain or the legitimacy of another's birth, call a woman a b**** or a man a lot of other things. But toss out a remark about one's race? Katie bar the door.

I think the problem comes because of the history of slavery and racism in the South. Not that there isn't racism elsewhere but not that long ago white people owned black people there and fought a war to be allowed to keep on doing it. It's still a raw topic for a lot of folks, as well it should be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, we learned all about it in school. And endless documentaries on television. There were many blacks who owned slaves back in the day, including Michelle Obama's family of origin. That was all over 150 years ago. Uncomfortable facts exist in all of our histories. Blaming an old woman for using a common word (and I do mean common, as in we didn't do that in my family) was the result of her relating an incident of being held at gunpoint by a black man.

People need to stop getting their dresses over their heads about stuff like this or at least be consistent and refuse to listen to rap music or watch Quentin Tarantino movies.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, we learned all about it in school. And endless documentaries on television. There were many blacks who owned slaves back in the day, including Michelle Obama's family of origin. That was all over 150 years ago. Uncomfortable facts exist in all of our histories. Blaming an old woman for using a common word (and I do mean common, as in we didn't do that in my family) was the result of her relating an incident of being held at gunpoint by a black man.

People need to stop getting their dresses over their heads about stuff like this or at least be consistent and refuse to listen to rap music or watch Quentin Tarantino movies.

I'm with you on this one. And I've decided to immediately stop listening to rap music.

I'm rethinking the Quentin Tarantino movies.

1 person likes this

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

. But toss out a remark about one's race? Katie bar the door.

I honestly think that the desire to hire black servers and dress them up like slaves to serve her and her friends at a civil war themed wedding is what really did her in. Her comments attempting to justify her grandfather's slave owning by saying that "slaves were like family back then" were also highly inappropriate. Had it been a few racial slurs I think she may have gotten off with an apology. I think she deserves everything she is getting right now.


Edited by Twyst (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I doubt it, Twyst. One can only get away with being an outlandish fool if one is part of the victim class of the perpetually aggrieved and outraged.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, we learned all about it in school. And endless documentaries on television. There were many blacks who owned slaves back in the day, including Michelle Obama's family of origin. That was all over 150 years ago. Uncomfortable facts exist in all of our histories. Blaming an old woman for using a common word (and I do mean common, as in we didn't do that in my family) was the result of her relating an incident of being held at gunpoint by a black man.

People need to stop getting their dresses over their heads about stuff like this or at least be consistent and refuse to listen to rap music or watch Quentin Tarantino movies.

Your documentation about how many blacks owned slaves? And while slavery, per se, was over 150 years ago, blacks were not allowed to vote in much of the South until the 1960s and it took years after that and strong federal intervention to make it happen.

I'm very happy your family no longer uses racial slurs. Some of my family -- who live in Savannah, Georgia, by the way -- still say the most awful racial things, and mean them, when they think there's no one listening.

When Americans see the Confederate flag in the same way Germans look at the Nazi flag -- as an ugly symbol of oppression -- them I'll truly believe we are finally moving on.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not about repressing anyone's First Amendment rights, now matter how much I disagree with them, thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, we learned all about it in school. And endless documentaries on television. There were many blacks who owned slaves back in the day, including Michelle Obama's family of origin. That was all over 150 years ago. Uncomfortable facts exist in all of our histories. Blaming an old woman for using a common word (and I do mean common, as in we didn't do that in my family) was the result of her relating an incident of being held at gunpoint by a black man.

People need to stop getting their dresses over their heads about stuff like this or at least be consistent and refuse to listen to rap music or watch Quentin Tarantino movies.

So what do the actual numbers of black slave owners and their slaves tell us? In 1830, the year most carefully studied by Carter G. Woodson, about 13.7 percent (319,599) of the black population was free. Of these, 3,776 free Negroes owned 12,907 slaves, out of a total of 2,009,043 slaves owned in the entire United States, so the numbers of slaves owned by black people over all was quite small by comparison with the number owned by white people. http://www.theroot.com/views/did-black-people-own-slaves?page=0,1

So .6% of slaves were owned by free blacks, if I'm doing my math right. Not exactly an argument for the huge impact of enslavement of black Americans by other black Americans.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not about repressing anyone's First Amendment rights, now matter how much I disagree with them, thanks.

I'm confused. Who was talking about repressing anyone's 1st amendment rights?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You were. You said people should not fly the Confederate flag and called it analogous to Nazi Germany.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You were. You said people should not fly the Confederate flag and called it analogous to Nazi Germany.

I'm not sure you understand the first amendment. Nobody said it should be illegal to fly the confederate flag, only that it should be viewed in a different light and not socially acceptable.


Edited by Twyst (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Should be? Who decides should?

I understand the First Amendment just fine, thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Being familiar myself with the inside of television drama (Reality TV) Im only going to say this.

The reason the TV Food Network dumped her so fast wasnt due to her racism or the 3 failed apologies it is because

THEY KNEW ALL ALONG HOW SHE WAS and they fired her for self protection. They protected her so long and kept it hidden

that they (IN MY OPINION) ARE ALSO CULPABLE IN hiring her and keeping her all these years, for the sake of the all mighty

DOLLAR

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2013/06/paula-deen-sambo-burger.php

^^Producers had to talk her out of making a sambo burger

Just for clarity this post is my opinion only


Edited by GlorifiedRice (log)
1 person likes this

Wawa Sizzli FTW!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, GF. I had heard something about that from my son who also works in television.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When Americans see the Confederate flag in the same way Germans look at the Nazi flag -- as an ugly symbol of oppression -- them I'll truly believe we are finally moving on.

I'm not about repressing anyone's First Amendment rights, now matter how much I disagree with them, thanks.

I'm confused. Who was talking about repressing anyone's 1st amendment rights?

You were. You said people should not fly the Confederate flag and called it analogous to Nazi Germany.

I understand the First Amendment just fine, thanks.

Can you please explain where any suggestion of the government banning someone's right to free speech was made? The first amendment does not protect you from people thinking you are a vile human being for expressing controversial views, it only protects you from government persecution.


Edited by Twyst (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Am I the only person who thought, well duh, when I heard that a 60 something woman from the Deep South had used the n word? I assure you, it is still used by plenty of people on both sides of the color line, in the south and elsewhere. In fact, in certain circles, it's used more than ever since we elected a black president. Savvy PR could have pulled her out of this, but failing to appear on the Today show and that video piece just made it all worse.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.