Wednesday, July 24, 2013

For the Sons, Business as Usual: Is the Food Network Planning a Comeback for Paula Deen?

A pal sent me this intriguing (but rather profanity-laced) rant from Eater concerning the sons of former Food Network star Paula Deen, who's been finding herself in hot butter all over the place lately thanks to ongoing racism/workplace conditions scandal allegations. The story suggests that allowing Deen's sons Bobby and Jamie to keep their own TV shows going, along with promoting Bobby Deen's apparent upcoming stint on Iron Chef, is part of a corporate plot to rebuild Ms. Deen's own food empire and stick her back on the air after a brief period of silence. After all, the big bosses have a lot of money invested in these people. Or something like that.

The Deen saga/debacle has been hashed out repeatedly over the Web in the last month or two. The details are beyond well known at this point (but if you missed the whole mess, here are the highlights: There was a lawsuit, there was a firing, there is and continues to be lots of misinformation being spread about exactly what happened. Paula Deen is a folk hero and a self-made American; Paula Deen is mud. Basically, the old Internet went nuts. There are case records available online; I suggest you read the actual court documents).

So is there a plan underway to put her back on TV? Maybe. Maybe not. We've had television darlings fall from grace and claw their way back before. But I suspect that's not really where we should be focused. After all, why would any network executive bring back a banished television personality unless there was a willing, waiting audience?

We do not have a collectivist society, and in our culture, it does not make sense to fire someone because of something his or her parents did. Absent sufficient evidence of inappropriate behavior on their part, there is no good reason the Deen men should be punished or see their careers suffer. They deserve to be judged on their own merits. Not their mother's.


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