Idolizing and Crucifying Human Beings -- Paula Deen

Paula Deen.

A little bit of information can be a dangerous thing. It can make bitter enemies and enormous arguments. Our policy in this country is "innocent until proven guilty." The more educated an opinion is, the closer to reality it becomes. No person is without flaw, and no person is fully flawed. That is the definition of "human."

The facts:

Paula Deen is being sued by a former employee, Lisa Jackson. Lisa Jackson was the manager of one of Deen's restaurants, which is co-owned with her younger brother, Bubba. Paula owns 51% of the restaurant and he owns 49%. So the operations of the restaurant do have to do with her. She is the one most responsible for what goes on there, even if she doesn't know about it.

Jackson worked there for 5 years as the General Manager and is a caucasian woman.

This is the complaint filed:

http://www.atlawblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Jackson-v.-Deen-et-al.-Complaint.pdf


Paula gave a deposition, 149 pages long, it can be read here:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/148813272/Transcript-of-the-Testimony-of-Paula-Deen-Date-May-17-2013

Everyone will have their day in court. Deceit will be revealed and truth will come out.

My opinion based on the currently known facts:

If ALL the accusations are true....then for the most part it seems like she was very busy and turned a blind eye to her brother's actions. When I was in college I worked for a a man who sounds just like him. Tallahassee, Florida was small and that restaurant was one of the better jobs available. Plus if you did quit, you'd have no reference for the next job. My guess is that Bubba is very well known throughout Savannah and so if the woman did "just quit" disgruntled, she'd have had a hard time getting another job.

Paula has said in her deposition that it had come up that her brother was a questionable leader over the years by several people. She said that she hadn't even been to the restaurant in 5 years. She had hired a human resources firm that investigated and recommended his removal from active management but she didn't remove him. The restaurant is $300,000 in debt (also in the deposition) despite being a busy place. Other employees, not just Jackson, have been questioned and relayed that Bubba would drink whiskey from a styrofoam cup while working, make racist and sexual jokes, watch pornography at the restaurant, and just wasn't the greatest boss. 

In her interview with Matt Lauer, ( http://www.today.com/video/today/52315790#52315790 )  she'd stated that she only said "the n word" once back in 1986 but in her deposition she said she'd said it a few times over the years but not for awhile (At time 5:00 in the interview). 

Points of the deposition that have been singled out:

Page 79 is where she's talking about using the N word in jokes. She said it depends on the way you use it if it's offensive or not and that she doesn't know if it's offensive or not...and that's just what jokes are. That's what Matt Lauer was referring to in the interview (how can you not think it's offensive? (around time 4:00 on the interview) but without reading this part of the deposition, one wouldn't likely believe someone could still be that naive/apathetic.

Page 110 she talks about how hard she worked and how she'd saved up to write a cookbook and got it in the local store and one day it was raining and a lady ducked in out of the rain who'd eaten at her restaurant and it turned out she was a higher up at Random House and that's what got Paula's book published...incredibly hard work and a little twist of fate that turned out to be a miracle. --her hard work American dream story really is beautiful and inspiring.

Page 143 She says yes the cooks (who are all African-American) were told to use the restrooms in the back only, but she has a valid reason: because she thinks in restaurants it's distasteful to see cooks all covered in flour or buttermilk using the bathroom that the guests use. --I agree with that and I don't think that was a racially motivated decision/rule at all as some media have made it out to be.

Some critics of her have said that in the interview she seems very focused on herself and defending herself. What they don't know is that she has suffered with Agoraphobia for decades....

From Wikipedia: Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by anxiety in situations where the sufferer perceives certain environments as dangerous or uncomfortable, often due the environment's vast openness or crowdedness. These situations include, but are not limited to, wide-open spaces, as well as uncontrollable social situations such as may be met in shopping malls, airports, and on bridges.

So her public crucifixion isn't just a bit of criticism to her. It's her biggest nightmare coming true.

When people are attacked, they defend themselves. They go into survival mode. I think at this point she should not do further interviews or apologies because she likely isn't sleeping, is terribly upset, and will say anything just so people will still like her...including backpedal and lie...or maybe at times not even lie on purpose, just not remember things correctly that were said in moments without really thinking. Not because she's awful, but because she's terrified and is in full survival mode and just isn't thinking clearly.

Bottom line: Let her have her day in court. There is not enough information here to make a decision.

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Other criticism:

Endorsement deals:

Smithfield Foods, one company who dropped her, has come under major fire for their abuse against the animals they raise and slaughter...namely pigs. There was even an undercover video showing the practices, done by the Humane Society. Paula has been a paid spokesperson for them for years, as this article from 2010 details:

http://markbittman.com/horrific-animal-abuses-uncovered-at-smithfiel/


QVC Cookware:

Paula has lived the American Dream, and although there are American Companies that make excellent cookware with well paid American employees (at great financial cost to them), Paula chose to have her cookware made in China and Thailand. 


Novo Nordisk:

Paula found out she had diabetes but kept that from the public for three years. When she came out on the Today Show about it, she also announced that she is a paid spokesperson for a diabetes drug (that costs $500/month) and that she will still continue to cook the food she cooks, but that her sons will be cooking lighter versions of her recipes. The endorsement deal with the drug company estimate is $1 million a year. 

She came under fire by Chefs including Anthony Bourdain. One chef made a good point...he said it's not like she came out and said that her cooking has turned out to be worse for you than she thought, and she is now going to be a spokesperson for fruits and vegetables. 

The counter criticism to this is that she's not forcing anyone to cook the food she cooks, let alone eat it. But that's ignoring the fact that she is a trusted public figure and she does have influence. If she didn't have influence, then major corporations would not pay her millions of dollars to sell their products. 

Video interviews surrounding this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XND9rSGzqzM




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Summary:

Before this, I didn't really know anything about Paula Deen. I'd heard her name, but hadn't seen her show or heard her story.

After reading her deposition, the accusations against her, and watching a bunch of interviews on YouTube, I think I understand a few things. 

This interview (from 2009) is the most telling. It's amazing. She is very humble and honest about her life. In parts, she talks about her dad dying at age 40 when she was 19, and then her mother dying at age 44 when she was 23, and she took over raising her baby brother who was 16. 

I can totally understand why it was so deeply ingrained in her to protect him at all costs, and he may have been covering is deep pain with all his alcohol/cocaine/lewd/etc behavior. I believe she should have made a clear separation between supporting and loving him and supporting his behavior. If the accusations turn out to be true, then he should not have held that position and his actions were illegal. That, again, will have to wait for court to be determined. A lot of people think they're helping their spouses, siblings, and adult children when really they are enabling them to continue making very poor choices that harm themselves and others. It's a huge life lesson for many people, regardless of income or status.

It's like the American dream meets the Human tragedy. 

I believe her intentions were good, always have been, always will be. I believe she's a stronger human being than I am.

I believe she has different beliefs than me regarding race and gender which I do not agree with at all. To me, her beliefs on race and gender are very dated and not equal. 

I think that her fear of having nothing --even in the face of being a multimillionaire--is what led her to some very bad decisions regarding corporate affiliations. 

I don't think she's a bad person. I think she's a human. Good points, bad points, major flaws and major achievements.

Please watch this interview of her in her own words. She's determined, she's got an amazing heart, she's been through a lot, and she believes in the people she loves. 

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvXwKde554E

This Oprah clip tells about her personal tragedy and triumph

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=GAtQjRb6aDA

Here's an interview from 2009 from the Bonnie Hunt Show with her and her husband. They are so likable and down-to-earth, like the fun grandparents that anyone would love to have.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXh5d-dfg-s&NR=1&feature=endscreen
(part two) http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=aib6RAtercI 

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Who cares?


The bigger picture:

You'd think the idolizing/crucifying cycle would have run its course by now after all the politicians, sports figures, celebrity actors, models, and even chefs!

We still do it and it ends up being a cruel fate. People are built up only to be torn down. Neither was real.

The fact that the tabloid industry is a multibillion dollar one or that celebrity endorsement deals even exist, let alone are in the millions of dollars per product, are proof that we need to change. 

Think of Kate Moss and her cocaine photo scandal. Tiger Woods and his infidelity. Michael Vick and the dog fighting operation on his own property. About a thousand politicians and their infidelity. 

Politicians and their infidelity I can more understand. If their own wives can't trust them, should their constituents? 

But Tiger Woods, for example, was a golfer. He was a lousy husband but excellent at his job. So was Elvis. 

In recent years, celebrities have become brands. Maybe it was "Be like Mike" with Air Jordan shoes that catapulted endorsement deals. Now, so many celebrities end up as the face of many products.

Who cares what perfume a pop star wears or what shoes an athlete is paid to promote? What does an actresses face on an ad for jackets have to even do with her acting ability that we admire? And we even KNOW they're being paid to promote those things. 

We know on a conscious level that wearing the same shoes that an athlete wears won't make us more athletic. Using the same makeup that a model wears won't give us her skin. Driving the same car or eating the same cereal that a singer does won't make us one tiny bit more like them. But it's been sold to us on a subconscious level, hook, line, and sinker.

Jim Carrey has recently got himself in a big heap of mess by standing up for what he believes in, which has changed over the past year. He was in a movie called "Kick Ass II" which is about to be released. The movie finished filming last year in November. A few days later, Sandy Hook happened. Sandy Hook caused Jim Carrey to re-evaluate himself and his actions, and what he chooses to support. He now thinks that Kick Ass II is too violent and refuses to promote it or do future violent movies. He apologizes to everyone involved with the film as it's likely to cost them a lot of money that he's not going to support it, but he is doing what's in his heart. This kind of integrity should be praised heavily, but no one's really mentioning it much.  Usually when an actor says publicly that they are not happy with their work or the message of a film they've done, usually in hindsight, they are publicly scolded for being ungrateful, rather than commended for being honest.  Reference: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/06/25/jim-carrey-s-rant-against-kick-ass-2-and-other-stars-who-hate-their-own-films.html

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What's the remedy?

Discovering our own inner fire, strengths, and talents. 

Believe in ourselves.

That will lessen the need to try to grasp a little bit of theirs through oceans of products that don't even give it anyway. We need to choose to stop building up and tearing down other human beings.


By Doe Zantamata

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Update:


Here is Lisa Jackson's deposition, from February. It's 281 pages long. The tales of Bubba's restaurant start at around page 50. She's named about a dozen people, servers, chefs, line cooks, managers, vendors, even a trapper. If they confirm of refute what she's said then it will become apparent who is being truthful. She hardly mentions Paula at all except that Paula was absent and did nothing about it. Which...between her shows, books, book tours, her restaurant, cruises, and actually living a life, she likely trusted that her managers and supervisor were taking care of things there. Sigh. What a mess.

http://savannahnow.com/view-281-page-deposition-and-court-documents-filed-suit-against-paula-deen


Update: July 7/2013

Just saw an article that had an attachment of Bubba Hiers deposition.

http://ftpcontent5.worldnow.com/wsav/documents/Hiers.pdf








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