As becomes increasingly obvious with every passing day since the news of her past use of the “N word” was heard ‘round the world, the career of TV chef Paula Deen has been deep-fried. Burnt to a crisp, beyond all hope of redemption. Just today the former longtime Food Network star was dropped by Target, Home Depot and Novo Nordisk, the pharmaceutical company who had idiotically hired the sugar and butter-loving Deen to be the spokesperson for a new drug for diabetics last year.
Let me be clear: I personally don’t give a flying fuck about Paula Deen. I view her as a vaguely preposterous person, I would never be interested in her recipes or any of the products that she endorses (or rather endorsed, past tense). I have never paid the slightest bit of attention to her, other than when it was revealed that Deen, the high priestess of America’s shitty high-sugar, high-salt, high-fat dietary habits had diabetes herself and yet had hypocritically signed on to promote the very diet that caused her own ill health for profit! (Novo Nordisk didn’t exactly get the right profile from Deen’s involvement in their “Diabetes in a New Light” campaign, did they?)
No, Paula Deen’s past use of the racial epithet—reported as cavalier by the media, but not characterized that way by Deen herself in her deposition—didn’t surprise me, even with my limited knowledge, but then again who was shocked by it?
Were you personally shocked that a 66-year-old rich white woman raised in Georgia could have used that word? Puh-leeze. It’s distasteful sure, but were you shocked? Of course not, no one was. And because no one was really surprised by this flap in any way shape, or form, it’s difficult to imagine anyone truly outraged by it either. Did you see the line of people waiting to get into one of Deen’s restaurants on CNN over the weekend? A fair number of them were African-Americans. Many were willing to stick up for Paula Deen on camera. That may seen counter-intuitive at first glance, but it’s not: They simply did not care.
Bearing that in mind, I think it’s fair to say that most people don’t give a shit about Paula Deen using the “N-word” or even her ridiculously oblivious plans for an antebellum plantation-themed wedding for her younger brother Bubba. So if no one is really getting all that worked up over it, then how to explain the media furor and her instantly lifeless career if Deen’s use of a racial epithet is not really the issue?
Personally, I think it’s because Paula Deen represents willful ignorance and gluttony, specifically the particularly vile intersection of someone who has deliberately made a career of consciously promoting morbid obesity—if Deen isn’t the avatar for every blubbery hoarder riding around Wal-Mart on a scooter, I don’t know who would be—and then double-dipping by taking money to endorse a diabetes medication. With those big pharma dollars rollin’ in, you butter believe it, ole Paula Deen’s got ‘em comin’ and goin’!
She’s a walkin’, talkin’, sobbin’ on the Today show metaphor for rapacious late-stage capitalism. Karl Marx in his most cynical moment couldn’t have imagined a creature as obscene or as avaricious as Paula Deen. I think this is the primary factor in why the Internet wants to tear this human centipede limb from limb.
Marx, no, but Paula Deen does most certainly seem like a character who could have been dreamed up by William S. Burroughs. Talk about a “naked lunch” I would never want to eat: Paula Deen’s very own fans are the pork on her fork. Ultimately Deen’s no better than Nestlé‘s Peter Brabek, the asshole who wants to privatize water in Third World countries.
With her personal brand in tatters, the real Paula Deen has been revealed, and if not the woman herself, at least the corporate Ouroboros that she now so starkly represents. Not in an abstract sense, either, but literally—Deen’s personal gravy train has sopped up millions upon millions of dollars for her and for her investors by clogging the arteries of her most ardent followers, encouraging over-indulgence and driving up the costs of private healthcare, all done while partaking herself in the very same things that will eventually kill her, too.
In Dante’s Purgatorio, the gluttonous penitents were tied-up and made to lie face down for their pursuit of earthly goals. If the Italian poet were alive today, perhaps he’d come up with a more nightmarishly appropriate 21st century vision: Today’s Wall Street tycoons and media barons—the ones who enabled the Paula Deen empire of shit in the first place with millions and millions of investment dollars—being force fed Ooey Gooey Butter Layer Cake at The Lady and Her Sons until each, deservingly, became a Mr. Creosote, purging their karmic guts out in buckets and then repeatedly stuffing their pie holes to the point of puking over and over again for all of eternity.