I know a wide range of people. Most of them are intelligent, and all have their own opinion on subjects.
GASP! I know, right?
So I preface this piece with this: I adore the people who read my stuff, and respect their feelings and opinions. I also happen to like Paula Deen. But that doesn't mean that she is immune from my writing about her tragedies of late, because I have been shoved into it by repeat Facebook posts on the subject. So if the redemption of Paula Deen is something you feel strongly about, I suggest you stop reading, because it is likely that this will piss you off.
Recently I've become amazed (and frankly, slightly shocked) at the number of people that are outraged by Paula Deen's swift, Aaron Hernandez style, immediate and epic loss of business partnerships. Her show being discontinued by Food Network, and release by JC Penny, Wal mart, Smithfield and others has been raised to an almost Bono-level of awareness and social media outrage.
The main theme trumpeted by the masses seems to be "She made a mistake, guys! Come on, why should we punish her for a mistake she made 30 years ago?! She's losing everything! What an outrage!"
To which I have the following (repeatedly provoked) responses:
1. Yes, Paula Deen made a mistake. Yes, it occurred more than two decades ago. One (like me, for example) might even make the argument that she's a 66 year old white woman from Albany, Georgia. Of course she's racist! That was a time and place that all you were supposed to BE was racist! Well, guess what, people? It is not 1953, and those things are no longer appropriate or socially acceptable. End of story, no more callers, we have a winner. And for those that are still racist (ie, saying things like "Who hasn't said something racist?!", bear in mind that you are not the very, very public face of companies with stockholders to whom answers must be given.
2. Business partnerships are made because they are mutually beneficial. When those partnerships become less than such, they can (and probably will) become void. Food Network didn't decide against renewing Paula Deen's show to personally punish her. They did it because their ratings were projected to suffer by keeping her show on the air. Stop acting like food network discontinuing the show is the equivalent of a mother leaving her infant on the steps of a church. It's unreasonable.
3. Paula Deen has one truly marketable asset: herself. Ham and biscuits are super great things, but like most TV personalities, her bread and butter (and butter, and butter) are her grandmother-ly appearance and down-home appeal. Unfortunately, things from her past came back to haunt her. Remember when Vanessa Williams had those devastating "artsy" photos surface and lost her Miss America crown? Tragic and unfair, but it still happened. Why? Because what she had done, right or wrong, did not reflect the values of the organization that employed her. Now to my knowledge, there are no nude Paula pics floating around. But you can only call Al Roker "Chocolate Face" and tell Matt Lauer and millions of viewers to kill you with a rock and such so many times before you get dropped like a hot stone in the middle of a glass house.
4. As of last year (According to www.forbes.com), the Queen of Butter was worth a whopping $17 million. She will likely see more pay in residuals from book sales and other various business facets in three months than my husband, a Staff Sergeant in the Unites States Army, will see in a year's paycheck. So a modicum of perspective on the "Paula is losing everything, lets circle the wagons!" rally might do some good.
Basically, Paula Deen has (hopefully) learned a very valuable lesson in corporate marketing and brand survival in the form of her "Hey, Ya'll!" Southern charm being replaced by a less charming, Today Show sobbing aspect, and rapidly taking her from lovable to crucifiable in one fell drop of the N-Bomb. I truly hope she lived at her level of means and has the savings to retire on. Because at the end of the day, nothing is guaranteed, and nothing lasts forever.