Paula Deen is back — and still deep fried in denial. She's also proof of an annoying trend that compromised people love — ‘You are demonizing me for being terrible, but I’m the real victim. I’m the one in pain!’ Newsflash: You should be, and no one wants your tears.
This morning Deen appeared on The Today Show to pitch her new online food network and career rebirth… and to talk about how she’s a reformed person who once used the word "nigger." Like a true business woman, Deen tried her best to distance herself from the 2013 clip in which she tearfully apologized for her racist remarks while looking like a woman on the brink. Today, she said things like “I don’t recognize that woman” and “I shouldn’t have been here, I should’ve been at home, perhaps under the care of a doctor.” Doctors can fix racism? Can we hire a couple for America?
When Today host Matt Lauer asked Deen what she’d learned during the last year, this is what she said:
“I’ve learned so much over the year, it’s going to require another book. We are working on a documentary that’s going to air on [my] network because I feel like everybody needs to know the whole entire story.”
Then Lauer asked again, “What’s the lesson you’ve learned?” also known as, "Stop shilling and answer my question." In response, Paula got snippy, saying “I’m getting to that” and then, perfectly, “Now I forgot what I was going to say.”
Sounds about right. Then she went back into her pitch for her online network and documentary and remembered her canned, probably publicist and marketing department-approved “lesson.”
“It’s the power of words, I don’t care how old they are, words are so powerful,” she said, trying her best to appear earnest for her potential online network coins. “They can hurt, they can make people happy. Well, my words hurt people. They disappointed people, frankly I disappointed myself. For that, I’m so sorry for the hurt, I caused people because it went deep. People lost their jobs, it went deep into corporate America. I’m here to make people happy, not to bring sadness.”
Lauer then deemed her a new woman, but Paula sounded the same. She even followed up with this:
“I’ve been through several traumatic experiences and I’ve come through them all, like every woman in the home.”
“Every woman in the home” hasn’t been called out for using racist words. Maybe Paula and her friends on the We Support Paula Deen Facebook page, where she went to find solace when the world was unfairly vilifying her, but not everywhere. Then there’s a whole portion of the interview where Lauer asks how she coped with being demonized by society — because her actions deserved it — and she played the victim as if her saying “nigger” so freely, a word tied to slavery, segregation, lynching, mass incarceration and these days clockwork police murders, is more damaging to Deen than to the people of color she used the word to describe.
It’s not and it never will be. But there’s that victim trend again.
Here's another situation employing the victim trend: a few Redskins fans are interviewed by The Daily Show about why they love their team's racist name. Then when they realize the show's going to lampoon their outdated and socially unacceptable fandom, they cry victim and call the police. The police tell them to go away, because real crimes are a thing.
The Redskins fans assume the cops will understand that them volunteering to look like fools on television while supporting a racist team name and dismissing those who are offended hurt them. And the Redskins fans' hurt feelings, born from embarrassment and anger, trump the Native Americans who detest the terms "redskins" because early Americans used it against their ancestors who they robbed and massacred.
See what I mean?
The hurt one person might feel from fucking up does not outweigh the pain their misstep caused others in their crossfire. Paula Deen being dropped from the Food Network and shunned in public as a racist doesn't trump the fact that she was accused of mistreating her black employees, admitted to using the word "nigger" and thinks an elegant idea for a wedding might be to staff it with black men pretending to be slaves. You get vilified when your a villain, that's how it works.
The victim trend lets folks like Deen — or those Redskins fans or sexist old congressmen who tell Senator Kirsten Gillibrand that she's "porky" or the Ferguson, Mo. police department ... the list goes on — act like they didn’t participate in their poor choices that led to the implosion of their lives. But they did, and it’s no one’s fault but their own. So, maybe cry about that?
Image via Today.