It is safe to say that cable subscribers across the United States have familiarized themselves at one point or the other with the queen of calories, Paula Deen. This Food Network star gained her fame and fortune through the years by providing her followers with “southern hospitality”, otherwise known as a never ending supply of butter. Though her “love and best dishes” led her to stardom, her apparent racism and lack of professionalism recently left Food Network overcooked.
Paula Deen’s strictly southern style quickly turned into a nightmare on racism for many, including the Food Network. A sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit was filed against the chef after multiple unpleasant scenarios by Deen and her brother took place against one of her restaurant’s employees. What normally would be handled on a private or local level quickly became a tabloid’s dream story. The more Deen would beg for forgiveness, a larger mockery she became. The ever popular cable station and Deen’s main outlet, The Food Network, was unpleasantly caught in the middle of this battle against words. Paula Deen did not deny her use of racist slang, but instead argued that there were no meaningful strings attached to her admittedly spoken words. With that in mind, Food Network dropped the ever popular chef, choosing not to renew her ongoing contract. Did they make the right choice?
Many of today’s most successful networks gain viewers by glorifying real life drama. Reality television as a whole builds its focus around the wrongs and rights of many of our most popular celebrities. The Food Network did not just drop a southern chef with a faulty mouth, they dropped a household name, an ongoing success and a network staple. Instead of holding onto Deen for her soon to be parodied faults, Food Network chose to stand by their core values. Unlike many entertainment based decisions we see today, The Food Network’s system of ethics remained solid in a time filled with potential injustice. In today’s world of entertainment, ethical standards become blurred by extreme financial profit.
Was The Food Network’s shiny reputation worth the risk of financial burden? Only time will tell. Regardless of the station’s potential monetary loss, the drop of both The Food Network and her entire court case has given Paula Deen the recipe to pick up the pieces from a mess she cooked up herself.