Earlier today, Vitameatabutteredmeatamin pitchwoman Paula Deen posted a photo of herself dressed as Lucille Ball for Twitter’s “#TransformationTuesday,” a tweet heralding her metamorphosis into an entirely new stage of racist. The photo, taken from a 2011 episode of the Food Network show Deen no longer has for things exactly like this, found Deen alongside her son Bobby, who is dressed as Desi Arnaz. It was a tableau that has proved unsettling beyond its Oedipal/Motherboy implications.
There are many ways Deen could have cosplayed as Desi Arnaz, of course. Donning a guayabera, perhaps. Putting on a pompadour wig. Holding a conga drum. Leaving this Lucille Ball behind and retiring to a horse breeding farm to live out his life in relative seclusion. All are valid options. Instead, utilizing his mother’s favorite serving technique, the younger Deen’s impersonation is based entirely in slathering as much brown stuff on his face as he can. The effect really teases out the subtleties of the olive-hued Cuban-American star, the same way adding more gravy really brings out the flavor of gravy.
If it’s not entirely surprising this all happened four years ago, when no one was really paying attention to Deen beyond cheese fetishists and people trapped in their dentist’s waiting room, it’s a little confusing why Deen thought now might be a good time to remind everyone about it. (Even given the compulsory burden placed on us all by #TransformationTuesday.) After all, last year, like a phoenix rising from the hash browns, Deen reemerged for a People cover story in which she declared she’d “learned so much” from the outcry over her use of racial slurs. For example, that one tends to lose network and endorsement deals when those slurs are made public, alongside tales of asking the help to dress up like slaves and Aunt Jemima.
In that same story, Deen said she empathized with “that black football player” Michael Sam, who—like Paula Deen—would forever be saddled with dismissive labels by thoughtless people, such as Paula Deen. Yet she resolved to pick up the pieces and move forward with her newfound knowledge, as well as a new $75 million infusion from a private investment firm. As with all students who are given unlimited financial resources every time they fuck up, Paula Deen’s mind has been firmly on education ever since.
Now well into her third semester of studies on casual racism, it seems Deen is still learning even today, amid a familiar growing outcry that prompted her to quickly delete the tweet. Still, rather than proceed through another series of teary apologies, and accusations of being unfairly vilified that would only make things worse, she’s moved directly to shilling for her next product. So, you see, she has learned something.
By now I hope y’all have heard my great news I have a new cookbook available for preorder! http://t.co/aeVKjxCGOx
— Paula Deen (@Paula_Deen) July 7, 2015
[Screenshot via Jezebel]