Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Have You No Shame, Mrs. Deen?

I don't watch television (well, with the exception of HGTV with my daughter when she comes home from college and the occasional bout of CNN if and when something news worthy happens), so I'm basically ignorant of the legions of celebrity television chefs that rule the airwaves. To me, there is only one person who deserved her own television cooking show, and that person was Julia Child. She knew how to cook, and she had a personality and charm that made you want to cook. End of story.

A couple of years I found myself in the X-ray department of my local hospital (irony of ironies), and as all waiting rooms in hospitals now have televisions to convince you that you're not waiting THAT long, I found myself watching Paula Deen's cooking show. I know it's not fair to base one's opinion on one show, however, an entire fifteen minutes devoted to dumping cartons of sherbet into a punch bowl filled with 7-up and then mixing them together does NOT constitute cooking in my book. There was some other recipe on this show that had something like forty pounds of butter--I think it was mashed potatoes and the ratio of butter to Idahos was essentially one to one--and, again, not particularly noteworthy. Let's put it this way, neither her ideas nor her personality had me frantically searching my TV guide for the next installment of her show.

Then lo and behold it was announced this week that three years ago she was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. One hates to be cynical, but the fact that she has withheld this information (which is, of course, her right) until she successfully landed a sponsor to pay her for her years of promoting fat-laden, unhealthy food and her moribund lifestyle seems, uh, a little craven to me. She continued to offer her up her brand of fare for three solid years without a single mention that the very food that she was extolling you to cook was likely to make you obese, and, therefore, vulnerable to Type 2 diabetes. How lovely, folks. Just eat your way to medical intervention. Donuts? Have four. Deep-fried cheesecake? Have another piece.

Is it just me or is this insanely irresponsible? Granted, I'm surrounded by medical types on both sides of the family, so perhaps my layman's knowledge of medical stuff is a little more informed than your average Joe. Diabetes is a nasty disease. How nasty? It's like up there with cancer as far as I am concerned. It affects your entire body. As in losing toes and going blind to name a couple of  potential side effects. I've currently embarked on a regime to eat better and exercise more, and the primary reason? My sugar numbers are heading in the pre-diabetic direction, and I would rather cut out chocolate forever than get diabetes. THAT'S how bad a disease it is.

So, I have to ask Mrs. Deen, why didn't she tell her loyal fans immediately that the lifestyle that she was promoting was in fact a direct line, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars, to a lifetime of being insulin's bitch? The standard line seems to be that they wanted to have a clear message about all this before making the announcement. It took THREE FRIGGING YEARS to hone a public response to this news?

I don't think so. It took three years to find a sponsor. She disgusts me. Either keep it personal because it is personal, or use your new-found knowledge to immediately revamp your show so that your old message of "every thing's better deep-fried" is now "let's find new ways to make delicious food and not kill ourselves in the process." I'm not saying that she doesn't have the right to deep-fry cheesecake. But what I am saying is that there are consequences to that type of lifestyle choice--as she has found out--and, personally, I believe she has a responsibility to let her fans know exactly the cost of such a lifestyle.

In my opinion, there's no middle ground. You have a show. You have people who follow you. Well, now they've been following you into Type 2 diabetes. Will they get a discount on their insulin if they mention your name? Hope so, because insulin is expensive.


Anonymous said...

I think the name is Deen. Have you no editor?

Claire M. Johnson said...

@anonymous: Thank you. I have changed the spelling of her name.