As a country we love to hate celebrities. Be honest, people don’t watch “Jersey Shore” for the character development. They watch it because they want to see which one of those lowbrow mongoloids is next in line to get their lights knocked out by some greasy Guido. This breed of viewership is not in any sense grounded in admiration but, on the contrary, is based off of sheer spite and resentment for their vain idiosyncrasies. However, the cast of “Jersey Shore” is in no way a singular phenomenon. O.J., Paris Hilton and Michael Vick are amongst the pantheon of high profile celebs that we love to see on the receiving end of a joke during the Comedy Central Roasts, and Paula Deen is quickly making her way into this prestigious club.
For those of you unfamiliar with the exploits of Paula Deen, you’re lucky and I suggest you stop reading here because learning of her existence may induce an aneurysm for some (literally and figuratively). Paula gained celebrity chef status with her Food Network show “Paula’s Home Recipes” which became characterized by her Southern style cuisine and her excessive use of butter, sugar and a deep fryer. And when I say excessive, I mean gluttonous.
Do you like cheesecake? Well she’ll deep-fry it. Do you like butter? She’s deep-fried that too. How about bacon and macaroni and cheese? Well she intuitively wrapped macaroni and cheese in bacon and deep-fried the heck out of it. In fact, Paula has managed to deep-fry every single traditional Southern ingredient with the exception of Jack Daniels, chewing tobacco and crystal meth and not because of a lack of trying.
Paula’s affinity for the deep fryer can only be matched by her infatuation with butter and sugar, evident by the sheer quantity her recipes demand. The portions of sugar are so exorbitant you couldn’t achieve a superior sugar high if you railed a couple lines of powdered sugar off of a mirror, and her recipes call for so much butter that when consumed circulatory systems solidify into a gelatinous-like state.
It is no surprise that Paula’s promotion of such an unhealthy diet has come under scrutiny in the past. Most notably by fellow celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain who stated Paula’s cooking “is just plain fucking bad for you.” Admittedly, Paula isn’t holding a gun to the head of her viewers and forcing them to cook her food, they have the ability to make up their own mind. The real ethical issue is that Deen has managed to simultaneously benefit from the problem and the cure.
Last month, Deen announced that she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes over three years ago, yet during that time she continued to promote her notoriously unhealthy diet. And why would she stop? Appearances on Oprah, book deals and multiple shows on the Food Network catapulted Deen’s net worth to $16 million. Fiscally it would have just been bad economics to be transparent. However, I am not implying that Deen should have stopped promoting her product all together. She has the right to do so, but she also has the moral obligation to be honest with her fans especially when she is all too familiar with the consequences.
Even more infuriating is that her announcement “coincidentally” coincides with her becoming the spokeswoman for the diabetes drug Victoza, which is analogous to Tony Montana owning a rehab clinic. Despite Paula’ s hospitable Southern draw, she is a straight up crony capitalist (Rupert Murdoch would be proud). Making money off a product she herself knows is bad while profiting generously from the cure. The exploitation of her self-induced condition provoked Bourdain to comment further calling her, “the worst, most dangerous woman in America” which is a bit of an over statement (that title belongs to Lindsay Lohan when she is behind the wheel), but point taken. Paula Deen the Butter Queen can go eat her over hydrogenated, deep-fried heart out.