Paul Deen is in crocodile’s tears. Paul Deen’s employees are totally devastated by the misery. Although her onscreen persona seems to indicate her talents may best be utilized as the washboard player in Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band, Paula Deen, queen of southern cuisine is a shrewd businesswoman.
Swollen, orange and southern may not be a traits shared by most CEOs, but Paula Deen is very much a captain of industry. She heads Paula Deen Enterprises, a private company. Recent estimates of her net-worth at somewhere between $10 to $17 million dollars by sites like Yahoo and CelebrityNetWorth seem to be conservative at best. Deen has amassed a fortune from TV shows, endorsement deals, food items, books and bakeware, and built a veritable Graceland to Martha Stewart’s Taj Mahal. By her own accord in a deposition, Deen said she, “wouldn’t have a clue” how much her company made in 2012.
Deen built her empire from scratch. As the fabled tale goes, she began her culinary adventures with a scant $200 provided by her ex-husband. The industrious Deen made sandwiches for customers out of her home, which were then delivered by her sons. A string of restaurants followed suit, and things really took off for Deen after September 11, 2001, when Food Network executives decided what the United States needed was comfort food and homespun humor.
Her fiddle dee dee attitude and the drunken, boorish actions of her baby brother now threaten to undermine the stability of the country-fried empire she has built. As evidenced in the complaint filed against her which reveals a woman disconnected from reality, “Asked by Ms. Jackson what type of uniform she preferred servers to wear, Paula Deen said, ‘Well, what I would really like is a bunch of little n—–s to wear long-sleeve shirts, black shorts and black bow ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around.’ ”
In a taped deposition, Deen repeatedly makes reference to past uses of the n-word and whimsically discusses the Old South in nostalgic terms, glossing over the blatant injustices of the past.
All this begs the question, why not just deny all culpability or settle out of court?
With a story of success so dependent on the media to fuel and cultivate the persona she crafted, it seems logical to presume Deen possesses the wherewithal to know that any admission of using the n-word in the public sphere, would be a death sentence, leading to her demise.
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Perhaps, she is just tired. Perhaps, Deen will be headed to rehab before heading back to our TV sets and gracing the aisles of our supermarkets once more. Certainly, some form of mea culpa or cleansing is in order after the past month of media missteps, failed appearances and even more failing apologies.
She may make a ploy to win back our collective artery-clogged hearts. She may decide she’s had enough of the limelight and decide instead to retire to south Florida, hire a Dominican poolboy and spend the rest of her days acting out all her Scarlett O’Hara fantasies.
The real losers in all of this are not the likes of Paula Deen or her progeny. If managed properly, certainly she has enough money to keep the family in bouffant hairdos and fryolators for generations to come.
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The real losers in this scenario are the thousands of employees, of mixed races and backgrounds, who help to run the Deen Empire. They work to promote and perpetuate the ideals of Deen. In exchange, they rely upon her to be big-haired, boisterous and, above all, consistent.
In the most important and latter of those traits, she has failed them, and they are now facing the consequences.