Much ado has been made over the Paula Deen debate. I’ve never been a huge fan of Paula’s…she’s lays it on a little too thick with the Southern schtick, if you ask me. And while I’m not a processed food snob, her signature “Gooey Butter Cake” is too artificial and cloyingly sweet for my tastes…well, I guess it’s kinda like Paula.) I do have one of her cookbooks (a gift), and I enjoy perusing it…but no more or less than any other cookbook on my shelf.
I completely agree with those who are concerned by the knee-jerk reaction Paula’s sponsors and employers have had to her admission that she has used the “n” word. If she can be held accountable for words we uttered years ago, then heaven help us all.
And I also concur with those who point out that THAT word (and many other loathsome, misogynistic words) are belted out by rappers without any negative consequences. In fact, those depraved lyrics often garner awards and sell a lot of concert tickets.
It’s an understatement to say the court of public opinion often renders inconsistent verdicts.
The lawsuit’s allegations – if true – portray a Paula persona that is a little disturbing and dirtier-mouthed than what we see on air.
So….Paula’s a hypocrite. She talks one way when the cameras are rolling and another when they’re not.
To which I would say, so what?
Sure it’s disappointing, but only to the degree that any and all hypocrisy is disappointing. Her sin is no bigger or smaller than mine or yours.
The problem isn’t with Paula. The problem is with us. A large contingent of her fans hold her up as a goddess, in the same way we elevate celebrities, musicians, pro athletes and a few particularly glib political leaders.
We lift these mere mortals onto pedestals and assume their charisma and talents also mean they are perfect in every aspect of their lives. We worship them much as the ancient Greeks worshiped their mythical gods and goddesses. We pore over their pictures on magazine covers; we wait in line to see them in a game or concert, or to get an autograph and a glimpse of them. We memorize random factoids about them, and look for (or create) similarities between them and us. How many girls have tried to look like Taylor Swift? How many guys proudly wear their favorite player’s jersey?
These people may have blessed with God-given gifts, but gods they are not.
Unfortunately, when we are faced with the flaws and failings of these objects of our obsession and affection, we turn on them. Savagely. We want them to pay for misleading us, even though we were the ones who deluded ourselves into seeing perfection where it didn’t exist.
If we could stop obsessing over pop culture and devote that same amount of time and energy to seeking to know and worship the One who created us, who spoke this world into existence and who knows every hair on our heads, we might accept that we are all less-than-perfect. And that might make us more compassionate when a fellow human fails to attain perfection.
Paula ain’t perfect. And neither are we.