When Paula Deen told Al Roker yesterday that she has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, no one was really surprised, but plenty of people were pissed, over all sorts of things: that she hid her condition for so long (three years), that she says she doesn't plan to change what she eats (she'll just eat less of it), and that she's conveniently getting paid to shill for the diabetes medication Victoza. Are the complaints justified?
One furious commenter on the Times's story seems to encapsulate most of the griping:
What a surprise. Some great American pastimes are on display here: 1. The right to sell awful and unhealthy foods. 2. The inability to stop eating these craftily sold awful foods and ingredients in quantities that would make a famished lion blush. 3. The new national instinct to defend one's right to liberty and the right to pursue one's happiness (Read, eat garbage, be sold garbage and make tons of money selling garbage). 4. The inalienable right to be "Okay" as an overweight and unhealthy drag on society and our health care industry. 5. The new national political correctness that forbids being honest about such practices and when one is, to blame it on class warfare.
Instead of becoming a spokeswoman for reform she simply signs another enriching deal and will most likely leave her healthful eating for off the cameras while on camera she continues to give the viewers the garbage she can no longer eat. Which brings to mind another of the nations' longstanding pastimes: Blatant hucksterism.
This sentiment was echoed by columnists on other sites (Brooklyn's own Cathy Erway lambasts the "missed opportunity for healthy food initiatives, organizations, and the general public in Deen's failure to publicly recognize the errs of her gluttonous ways and perhaps partner with them instead"), and of course Anthony Bourdain, who tweeted, "Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later."
But is the whole backlash just a bit too much? Food writer Virginia Willis told the Times, “No one vilifies Michelin chefs for putting sticks of butter in their food. But when a Southern woman does it, that’s tacky.” And we do have to wonder how many people actually recreate Deen's Lady Brunch Burger at home.