Ok. So you probably knew it was coming…..my two cents on PAULA DEEN. But, this is a special post for me because one of my 5 or 6 regular readers ASKED for it. And who am I to say no, right? However, instead of simply spewing my opinion on this matter, I’m going to take you through the progression of my opinion since the story broke (sometime last week, but I couldn’t uncover a story from the exact day, so I used this).
Like a lot of news stories, I first heard mention of Paula’s scandal on Twitter. Not really the authority on current events, I gathered that Paula had used a racial slur, and now people were shocked and offended. My immediate response was, “Duh.” This woman is about as country as it gets, and the fact that she is diabetic but still refuses to cook and eat in a manner which would benefit her personal well-being speaks volumes to me about her intelligence. So an unintelligent woman using words which, to me, are synonymous with unintelligence did not give me pause. “Of course Paula Deen used a racial slur,” I thought shaking my head before moving on with my life.
Then, I read somewhere else (probably Twitter again since I didn’t care enough about the story to seek a more reputable source) that she’d simply admitted to using a racial slur in her past. My response to this take was similar: Of course she did; she grew up in the south in the 50s and 60s. Why would she deny saying something that was so commonplace back then? She is the product of an embarrassing era in our nation’s history when those words were acceptable, but surely Paula has moved forward and left those words behind. Right? Not right.
When I did my reading this morning, I found that Paula’s admission was not one from a remorseful southern lady who has seen the error of her ways and is being persecuted in the media for being honest about an unflattering aspect of her past. She said, while under oath, at her $1.2 million discrimination suit where she is accused of telling racist jokes and using racial slurs at her restaurant (um, hello!?!) that “of course,” she had used the N-word. She went on to be quoted as saying, “It’s just what they are — they’re jokes … most jokes are about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks … gays or straights, black, redneck, you know, I just don’t know — I just don’t know what to say. I can’t, myself, determine what offends another person.” WHAT?! My opinion changed yet again upon reading this.
Perhaps Paula Deen should read this post. She would like me. I’m Christian, educated, southern, white, and straight, so maybe she would listen to me. Because, here’s what offends people, Paula. Not black/Jewish/gay/redneck people, but all people. You know, the people you want to make money off of? Here’s what offends them: Hate speech. Running a business where the owner sees it as appropriate to verbalize mean thoughts under the umbrella of jokes. When public figures decide that they’re so famous they won’t be held to the same set of standards as everyone else. The idea that a person can be worth $17 million and turn around and make fun of her employees and consumers. Those things, Paula Deen, offend people. Now you know.
Now that I’ve established Paula as being wrong, I feel like we need a little bit of perspective on the whole issue. Paula Deen is also human, and I cannot argue for the rights of some people while arguing against the rights of others. She has the right to move past this. She has the right to admit her mistake and dedicate herself to making it right and changing her image to a more positive one. And she should. But we, the reasonable public (and that is exclusive), have a right (responsibility?) in this as well. We have the right not to care.
What? You may be asking. Not care about racism? Nope…. I’m talking about the bigger issue at hand: celebrity stupidity, which- just for fun- I’ll be calling celepidity. Celebrities, too, are human, and humans are capable of doing and saying some really stupid stuff. We, as consumers — of news, of products, of social media — need to stop being entertained by (obsessed with?) celepidity. When some child star shaves her head and throws her bong out the window, this does not affect our lives. When a washed-up NFL player pats his lawyer on the bum in court and receives jail time, it should be no more than a passing chuckle in our day. And yes, when an overweight TV chef loses her job for saying some stuff she knew was inappropriate, it is not a call for justice. We should not start Facebook groups to rally for or against her. We should not boycott places and products based on our stance on the issue. This gives them too much of our attention. Why is celepidity so newsworthy? Because we let it be.
Allowing celepidity to offend us or even shock us isn’t wrong. However, allowing the maker of “Ooey Gooey Butta Cake” more than a few seconds of your day makes you part of the problem and not part of the solution. Don’t like the way Paula Deen is? Go BE different, and tell your friends to do the same.