Anybody who paid attention to the Paula Deen scandal last year probably realized that the celebrity chef was going to mount a comeback at some point. That’s just how being a celebrity works. What Deen said was reprehensible and vile to many, and she paid a price for her past, by losing a number of endorsement deals and ultimately the chance for her show to be renewed by the Food Network. But the thing about show business is that even someone as far down on the celebrity list alphabet as Deen is bound to get a second chance, because tales of redemption always make for good ratings, as long as the celebrity in question has apologized and claimed to have learned a lesson.
In Deen’s case, her apology earned her a $75 million deal with Najafi Cos. to get her new company established, and now she can comfortably move forward while acknowledging the lessons that she learned and hopefully not saying anything dumb. Wait, what’s that? Oh damn it, Paula.
“I feel like ‘embattled’ or ‘disgraced’ will always follow my name. It’s like that black football player who recently came out,” Deen said in a People Magazine cover story, which hits newsstands on Friday. “He said, ‘I just want to be known as a football player. I don’t want to be known as a gay football player.’ I know exactly what he’s saying.” (Via The Wrap)
I like to think that if Deen has someone who helps monitor the things she says to the media, he was walking back into the room with a tray of coffee in his hands and a donut in his mouth right as she was saying this, and he dropped it all and screamed, “NOOOOOOOOOO!”
If this quote appears in the interview in the context in which it is presented, Paula doesn’t know exactly what Michael Sam is saying. He’s about to be drafted by an NFL team, and he wants every team to focus on the fact that he was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in his senior year at Missouri, and not on the fact that he recently came out. People will obviously argue that Sam did this as an attention grab or he was possibly trying to be proactive in revealing his sexuality instead of allowing someone else to do it, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a guy trying to make a name for himself in professional football, and he doesn’t want to be defined by his sexuality, or something that he can’t change.
Deen, on the other hand, would like people to stop calling her a racist because she used the N-word in the 80s and planned a theme wedding that had black servants. The difference between someone calling Deen “racist” and Sam “gay” is that Deen can stop being racist. Her comparison is understandable, though, because she’s trying to be relevant and shield her own mistakes with the negative attention toward others – a classic show business PR tactic – but the situation that she should have beaten with a stick of butter is how Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty got a slap on the wrist.
“It’s amazing that some people are given passes and some people are crucified,” Deen said. ”I have new empathy for these situations, though. My dad always told me, ‘Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.’”
Apparently he should have added, “And leave all of Michael Sam out of this.”
UPDATE: Or maybe she could compare herself to Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper, who declared before the NFL season that he would “Fight every n*gger in here!” and today inked a 5-year deal worth $25 million. That’s probably a little more appropriate.