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The rise and fall of Paula Deen


David Ross
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I have read it the deposition. I am not defending Ms. Deen's use of indecorous language, I am saying the punishment is unequal to the crime.

That's fine, but the material I quoted from wasn't in the deposition but another document entirely.

From my perspective, Paula's not being punished so much for her use of the N-word but from a mindset that defines someone not of a similar heritage as an "Other". Using the N-word is just one aspect of this type of behavior. I'm sure you can think of other examples.

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I too have a history in television, having appeared on both PBS and local television cooking programs over the course of many years, so I take a keen interest in issues concerning cooking and the media. I want it be about sharing a common passion for food and cooking. My viewers expect it. While I am far, far away from the celebrity status of Paula Deen, I am acutely aware of how the public views someone who appears on television. When you step into the public realm, you have to understand that people will hold you to a high standard just as they should. In my view, it's not a matter of trying to justify the behavior, it's standing up once and for all and saying that it has to stop. It should have stopped way before Don Imus used derogatory language to describe the Rutgers University Women's basketball team, yet here we are with Paula Deen using cruel language to mock African Americans. We deserve better.

With the exception of PBS, (which isn't primarily driven by profits), Food Network is a commercial venture and they retain the right to terminate the contract of any personality that in their view has damaged the brand. The brand is the impetus of what drives ratings, which in turn brings in revenue the more the viewer supports the brand. Yet more importantly, in my opinion Food Network did something I applaud them for--standing up for what should be intolerable at all levels of society. Something bigger than the brand of Paula Deen.

I agree.

I think it's a case of how our idols don't always pan out the way we think they do, that they are in fact human, just like us, replete with foibles and flaws in so many ways -- that when the ones we put on a pedestal come crashing down, that it becomes more magnified. Because we expected better from them.

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Just two comments and then I will bow out; Paula Deen doesn't really merit all this copy.

First of all, let me apologize if I offended anyone. Obesity isn't a laughing matter, but surely Paula has more to answer for than I do. The truth is that is a telling picture, ultimately way more sad and cautionary than anything else.

Second, considering whether the punishment fits the crime is pointless. This is the Food Network for Gods sake; it's the smarmy world of big bucks entertainment TV. I'm sure they spent some agonizing hours trying to figure out which would ultimately lose them more money: canning Paula (love that expression!) or continuing to fight the bad PR.

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By the way, there are several errors in this thread since its inception.

Members may find it helpful to read the complaint, which sets forth the plaintiff's allegations and history during her employment at Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House.

As you can see, I've been doing a little digging.

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To be honest all I know about Paula Deen comes from news stories about her health and the seriously unhealthy food that she is famous for. I don't find her cooking or her TV persona the least appealing, nor am I surprised by her expressions of the racism that lies so deep in our American culture. Uncovering this kind of thing moves us forward in teensy steps.

Kudos to Dylan Wilson for his photo in the NYT front section today showing the lines to get in to Paula's Savannah restaurant. By the looks of it, Paula hasn't been doing her fans many favors the last few years. Lordy, but I shouldn't be laughing.

I too saw that photo - a lot of those folks need to slim down.

The Philip Mahl Community teaching kitchen is now open. Check it out. "Philip Mahl Memorial Kitchen" on Facebook. Website coming soon.

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Just two comments and then I will bow out; Paula Deen doesn't really merit all this copy.

First of all, let me apologize if I offended anyone. Obesity isn't a laughing matter, but surely Paula has more to answer for than I do. The truth is that is a telling picture, ultimately way more sad and cautionary than anything else.

Second, considering whether the punishment fits the crime is pointless. This is the Food Network for Gods sake; it's the smarmy world of big bucks entertainment TV. I'm sure they spent some agonizing hours trying to figure out which would ultimately lose them more money: canning Paula (love that expression!) or continuing to fight the bad PR.

Well, Katie, I don't think that apology sounds at all sincere. Too much justification. /sarcasm

When we are all victims of the Thought Police, we can all look forward to days like that.

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Frank Bruni, someone with a lot more bona fides than me, weighs in. Since some here don't like to read the NY Times and its hypocritical writings, I'll paste a bit here, because I think Frank hits the nail on the head...

There’s a dearth of reflection, a deficit of introspection, and that’s not just a generational thing and not just a regional thing, as some of her fans and other observers have begun to assert, unprepared to surrender their image of Paula the Southern Eccentric to the reality of Paula the Deep-Fried Boor.

A fresh illustration of this traveled through cyberspace on Monday, a video that shows Deen at The New York Times last October, being interviewed onstage by my colleague Kim Severson. The subject of race comes up.

“I feel like the South is almost less prejudiced,” Deen says, “because black folks played such an integral part in our lives. They were like our family.”

That statement alone is awkward — she’s referring to servants, presumably — but she doesn’t stop there. Motioning to the inky backdrop behind her and Severson, she notes that her beloved driver, bodyguard and assistant, Hollis Johnson, is as “black as that board.”

“Come out here, Hollis,” she adds, looking offstage and directing the audience’s attention there. “We can’t see you standing against that dark board.”

He goes on...

There’s almost always a larger context like that when someone falls as spectacularly as Deen has fallen, and there’s almost always a prelude: a first strike. Hers was in early 2012. That’s when she lost the benefit of the doubt, not racially but in terms of her character, by revealing that she had been diagnosed three years earlier with Type 2 diabetes, which is abetted by the calorie bombs on which her empire thrived.

This disclosure was timed not to benefit her fans, who were continuing to follow her fatty counsel, but to benefit her: one of her sons had a new healthy-cooking show that needed promoting, and she herself was stepping out as a spokeswoman — a paid spokeswoman — for a diabetes drug.

And finally...

Others have urged clemency, noting that she’s 66 years old and has lived her life far south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Please. All of her adult years postdate the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and she’s a citizen of the world, traveling wide and far to peddle her wares. If she can leave Georgia for the sake of commerce, she can leave Georgia in the realm of consciousness.

Thanks, Frank.

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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boy, the NYTimes, Boy. (FD: Im a subscriber, but at my age, I look at the Sports Page first, just to see what Alex is up to in the Apple ...) arn't those damm Yankees somethin' ...

unprepared to surrender their image of Paula the Southern Eccentric

Edited by rotuts (log)
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Frank Bruni, someone with a lot more bona fides than me, weighs in. Since some here don't like to read the NY Times and its hypocritical writings, I'll paste a bit here, because I think Frank hits the nail on the head...

I feel like the South is almost less prejudiced, Deen says, because black folks played such an integral part in our lives. They were like our family.

That statement alone is awkward shes referring to servants, presumably

Actually, she was referring to SLAVES. In the statement, she refers to them as "workers" and how her great-grandpappy was so upset when he had to let his "workers" go that he committed suicide.

So, no, Frank, they weren't "servants" and, no, Paula, they weren't "workers": they were slaves. People who were owned, who could be sold away from their wives or children, people who had no say in how or where they lived or who they lived with. Not workers, not servants, slaves.

I don't blame her grandpappy -- that's what (most) people who lived in Georgia in those days did. I just hope that his slaves at least weren't mistreated (except for that, you know, "slave" part). But, as Bruni said, Paula lives in a different time and should know better.

Edited by SylviaLovegren (log)
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Not that I'm aware of Mitch. Has anyone lambasted Tony for the mean things he's said about women and gays?

And vegetarians?

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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.

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I sort of a fat guy so if it makes you feel better go ahead and mock me too either here or by private message. I did have a salad for lunch and walked a bit aferward. But I can't be sure the lettuce was organic.

there is a temendous difference between the hurtful speech used by Tony B. and that used by Paula D.

I'm just not clear on what that is,

perhaps it is because Tony is a skinny guy and Paula is a fat woman.

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there is a temendous difference between the hurtful speech used by Tony B. and that used by Paula D.

The big difference between what she said and he said is that she intended neither to mock nor offend and he most certainly did. Her unthinking racism may be the more shocking because she seems to take it as a normal point of view.

The other issue of course is that matters involving race are more sensitive than those involving vegans.

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I sort of a fat guy so if it makes you feel better go ahead and mock me too either here or by private message. I did have a salad for lunch and walked a bit aferward. But I can't be sure the lettuce was organic.

there is a temendous difference between the hurtful speech used by Tony B. and that used by Paula D.

I'm just not clear on what that is,

perhaps it is because Tony is a skinny guy and Paula is a fat woman.

Many of the folks piling on with such thoughtful, impartial, considered analysis as, "she's a sack of shit," seem pretty happy they've got this opportunity to crucify her. This really gives them the moral high ground, doesn't it?

Edited by weinoo (log)

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.

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Racism exists everywhere, even here in NYC. I don't see anyone claiming otherwise.

That being said, there's a bit of a difference between someone like Tony Bourdain, who knowingly makes provocative statements concerning vegetarians and LGBT people but may not necessarily mean them, and someone like Paula Deen who fetishizes slavery and Jim Crow without a moment's hesitation. Or so it seems to me.

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I cannot read minds so I can't tell you if Bourdain or Deen believe what they say or are trying to shock. Bill Maher called Sarah Palin a c*nt on national television and he still has a show. Funny? Not so much. Calling her baby a "retard"? Again he still has a job.

It's all about whose ox is being gored.

"Even in NYC" That has to be one of the most unintentionally hilarious things I've read in a long time.

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...someone like Paula Deen who fetishizes slavery and Jim Crow without a moment's hesitation. Or so it seems to me.

That would require some sort of thought and self-aware intent, it seems to me.

I think it's more a matter of being clueless.

Not that that's an excuse, because it pretty clearly isn't.

But it's hard for me to ascribe any sort of intentional malice to her. I don't think she "fetishizes slavery and Jim Crow." I think she genuinely doesn't "get it." I don't believe she holds any sort of hatred or ill will in her heart toward African Americans, and her knowledge that that's how she feels inside makes this all the harder for her to understand.

Yes, she's been insensitive and insulting, but I suspect she still doesn't really understand how hurtful her words and actions have been, and why people are saying she's a racist.

Like I said. I honestly believe she's just clueless.

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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.

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...someone like Paula Deen who fetishizes slavery and Jim Crow without a moment's hesitation. Or so it seems to me.

That would require some sort of thought and self-aware intent, it seems to me.

I think it's more a matter of being clueless.

Not that that's an excuse, because it pretty clearly isn't.

But it's hard for me to ascribe any sort of intentional malice to her. I don't think she "fetishizes slavery and Jim Crow." I think she genuinely doesn't "get it." I don't believe she holds any sort of hatred or ill will in her heart toward African Americans, and her knowledge that that's how she feels inside makes this all the harder for her to understand.

Yes, she's been insensitive and insulting, but I suspect she still doesn't really understand how hurtful her words and actions have been, and why people are saying she's a racist.

Like I said. I honestly believe she's just clueless.

Well, since I don't come from that tradition -- and by "tradition", I mean, I wasn't born and raised in the South, so therefore I can't relate to the mores of the community -- it seems to me that her comments pertaining to the southern style plantation wedding for example, the way the BOH were treated at her restaurant (separate entrances for the staff, really?) or compensating her staff with beer instead of monies owed them -- goes beyond mere cluelessness, into more contemptible forms of behavior.

Your mileage may vary.

With all due respect, saying she should be forgiven because she's from another time is a crutch. But that's okay; it's not your fault if you think that.

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...someone like Paula Deen who fetishizes slavery and Jim Crow without a moment's hesitation. Or so it seems to me.

That would require some sort of thought and self-aware intent, it seems to me.

I think it's more a matter of being clueless.

Not that that's an excuse, because it pretty clearly isn't.

But it's hard for me to ascribe any sort of intentional malice to her. I don't think she "fetishizes slavery and Jim Crow." I think she genuinely doesn't "get it." I don't believe she holds any sort of hatred or ill will in her heart toward African Americans, and her knowledge that that's how she feels inside makes this all the harder for her to understand.

Yes, she's been insensitive and insulting, but I suspect she still doesn't really understand how hurtful her words and actions have been, and why people are saying she's a racist.

Like I said. I honestly believe she's just clueless.

With all due respect, saying she should be forgiven because she's from another time is a crutch. But that's okay; it's not your fault if you think that.

Well, I'll assume you're using the collective "you" in this post, rather than speaking directly to me, since I most certainly have never said anything of the sort.

Nor do I believe that.

Thinking over what folks do, and why, and trying to come to some sort of thoughtful, and even compassionate, understanding, is hardly the same thing as saying that they should be completely and unconditionally forgiven, and not held to some sort of account.

.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

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.

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PD's 'racism' comes from growing up in a community that was once a slave state. MA was never a slave state, but you want racism on steroids, its still around in various Boston neighborhoods. I grew up in CA, and you will find it as it relates to Chicanos there.

anyone recall Louse Day Hicks?

none of this makes any excuse for anybody. If you have some Russian neighbors that you are friendly with, especially from the older generation that came here (USA) after the 'break-up' ask them what 'churka' means.

there is the Wood, and then there are the Chips.

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I am with you, rotuts. Paula Deen is not even close to the worst racists that you will find in Savannah or Boston. She is merely highly visible, that's all. And, as noted above, clueless. She is a Southern charmer, but not a bright person. Her boys are great-looking and personable, but I do not see either of them in line for the presidency of Harvard, either. No excuses, but in the history of racism in America, this woman could not even register a footnote...

Bill Klapp

bklapp@egullet.com

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PD's 'racism' comes from growing up in a community that was once a slave state. MA was never a slave state, but you want racism on steroids, its still around in various Boston neighborhoods. I grew up in CA, and you will find it as it relates to Chicanos there.

anyone recall Louse Day Hicks?

none of this makes any excuse for anybody. If you have some Russian neighbors that you are friendly with, especially from the older generation that came here (USA) after the 'break-up' ask them what 'churka' means.

there is the Wood, and then there are the Chips.

Sammy Davis Jr. used to tell a story about visiting the Soviet Union. He said that one thing they repeatedly said to him, while comparing the superiority of the Soviets to the US, went something like: "And see? Here you're treated just like everyone else. We have no racism or bigotry. Here we believe that everyone is equal...[pause]...except for those Laplanders."

:biggrin:

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.

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I was on the faculty at Harvard for a while. still have a faculty library card that does not expire ( NB: you dont have to return the books until someone wants them :biggrin: )

there is plenty of "-ism" at The Big H. its different. its insidious. it requires a Beer in the Garden at the White House from time to time.

I personally feel a little sorry of PD: she is the product of a structured society that treats 'groups' of every kind differently. she has provided for herself and her family with a product that doesn't interest me much, when she might have only thought of herself. think MS. I give her credit for hard work and remembering her family. The rest just might be beyond her understanding of a post-segregationist world.

her segregated views are out of date by a long shot for a National Manufactured Personality. Im guessing she is sorry, and cant understand What's Up.

but she's not True Evil. that's LDHicks and their like.

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