Paula Deen

Men Hate Jane Austen; Paula Deen Wins in Court; Australia Gay Marriage

Men Hate Jane Austen

In Time Magazine this week writer Joel Stein wrote a humorous column titled, Stein and Sensibility. It deals with how men react to anything Jane Austen related, including the new movie, Austenland, with more than a few amusing quotes. The online link is here, but you won’t get the entire piece until later this month because Time charges for fresh online content. I get a subscription, so these are quotes from the print magazine.

Listening to rich women plot out which milquetoast guy to not have sex with before marriage sounds worse than those Real Housewives shows.

I felt a little weird being one of the only men there, so I walked up to one of the actors, Ricky Whittle, who, unlike his character, owns a shirt. He was not an Austen fan either. “At first I was like, ‘Will she be at the premiere?’ And people were like, ‘She’s been dead for years, Ricky.’ But I’m a fan now,” he said. When I asked which novel he liked best, Whittle said, “I’ve still not gotten through the books. But I’ve made more of an effort on the films.”

It’s a funny article meant to be taken with a proverbial grain of salt…you know, a sense of humor, bloggers. But what I do find interesting is that there is a clear difference between how women relate to Austen and how men relate to her. And I don’t think that has anything to do with emotion. The other night while watching a reality show on TV where something emotional happened, the women were out for blood because they wanted to win the money and the men were emotional wrecks. I often see this in the m/m romance genre, where gay men and women react differently to m/m romance novels, especially when it comes to sex.

Paula Deen Wins in Court

A federal judge on Monday ruled that a white former employee had no standing to bring claims of racial discrimination in a lawsuit against Paula Deen, the celebrity chef who was the target of criticism this summer after she acknowledged using a racial epithet.

This case with Deen has seemed to rule the news all summer, and I think it’s partly because racial tensions run so high in the US now. Unfortunately, what we don’t have are leaders on either side that are working to bring people together. I think what Deen said was awful and I honestly don’t ever use that word, but I don’t think deep down Deen is a racist at heart. She may be a product of her generation, and her background, but that doesn’t mean she’s the worst human on the planet. If anything, I think Deen has a platform to help racial tension in the US by bringing it out in the open, in ways no one else seems to be brave enough to do. Whether or not she will do this remains to be seen, though.

Australia Gay Marriage

You have to understand that when you’re a gay person, articles like this just hit you in the face and they are very hard to understand. I know it’s a positive thing, but in the same respect, it makes you feel so isolated and peculiar.

This part is fine:

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Monday it was time to end the “acrimonious” debate on gay marriage, after he vowed to introduce a bill legalising same-sex unions if returned to office.

But this part is what I don’t get:

“Frankly, in 2013, I think the time has come to put this acrimonious debate behind us,” the leader, who has previously been against gay marriage, told reporters on Monday.

Rudd, who is trailing conservative opposition leader Tony Abbott in opinion polls, said it was a reform millions of Australians had waited a long time to see become law.

“I’ve been thinking about the meaning of marriage for a long time – and I won’t hide the fact that this has been a journey for me,” he said.

“It is a difficult discussion, and I won’t force this on anyone. It will be a free vote for members of the Labor party.

For something that has always seemed so natural and normal to me, I find it hard to process comments like that, especially the part where it’s been such a long journey for him. Frankly, I don’t get a lot of things about the straight community, but I don’t think those things should be illegal, and I don’t think anyone in the straight community should be discriminated against because of them. And why this even has to be a difficult decision passes me by.

In any event, at least it’s another step forward for gay people in Australia…unlike gays here in Pennsylvania where gay marriage is still illegal just about 70 miles from NY where it is legal.


Buck Naked and Afraid; Kian Brown Letter to Paula Deen; Manhandled



Buck Naked and Afraid

There’s a new reality TV show out called, Naked and Afraid, on the Discovery Channel and it’s been making quiet headlines for the past few weeks. It’s pop culture at its best, and there have been all kinds of comments from the mainstream media. I set the DVR and watched several episodes and I have to admit that even though I started watching with my tongue pressed to my cheek, I wound up liking it more than I thought I would.

First, get past the naked part. It’s only a cheap thrill for the first five minutes. I’ve been to my share of nude beaches and there is one thing that never fails to happen: the first few moments you remove your clothes you feel awkward, but eventually you don’t even realize you’re nude. There’s nothing sexual about it, and you don’t even notice the other nude people around you. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, and once in a while you’ll see something unusual, but for the most part you get over being naked.

And it’s the same way with Naked and Afraid. But the best part of this show is that no one is doing it for the money or to win some kind of spectacular grand prize. These people are seriously interested in testing their bodies and learning about what it’s like to survive, naked, in the middle of nowhere without food or water. That’s literally what happens. A naked man and woman are left on a tropical island, or in a jungle, and they are forced to see how much they can take and how well they can deal with their limited circumstances. It’s both physical and mental. As a runner I appreciate this for several reasons. I’ve been running every morning of my life for the past twenty years and it’s not always easy. Most of the time, especially in extreme heat or cold, it’s a test to see how much I can take. It’s the old bring on the pain mind set. And from what I’ve seen so far on Naked and Afraid, that is exactly what it motivating these people.

The gender politics is interesting, too, because it’s a naked straight man and woman left in the middle of nowhere. So far, even though both sexes have had their doubts about how to deal with the gender power, each case has worked out very well in spite of a few serious fears they keep hidden from each other. And what I’d like to see in the future is a balance of gender power, so to speak. It would be interesting to see how a naked straight man and a naked gay man would deal with a survival situation, or two naked gay men, or even a naked straight woman and a naked gay woman. I hope the producers of the show realize the possibilities of this are not just limited to naked and afraid straight men and women. They would be underestimating the power of what they have going for them, and the show could get boring if they don’t expand a little.

You can read more here.

Kian Brown Letter to Paula Deen

Kian Brown is a multi-talented man who is an artist, host, and branding expert. I’ve read his pieces on Huff Po and enjoyed them, and the most recent one really made me stop and think. It’s an open letter to Paula Deen. I know he’s a branding expert, and the letter might sound as if he’s giving unsolicited advice to Deen, but I also think these wise words come from his heart as well.

This is part of what he says to Paula Deen:

The backlash you are experiencing is due in part to fear. A precedent is being made about how we handle racism amongst the privileged. I disagree that you should be engaged in such an offensive against your character. You actually admitted wrongdoing and apologized. We’ve all seen folks in leadership whether political, religious, business or cultural, lie, cheat and steal, get exposed, then work to pick up the pieces of their shattered image, some unsuccessfully.

I don’t think you are a racist, not even by osmosis. I will venture to assume however, given your age and upbringing, there may be some tendencies unbeknownst to even you.

He talks more about his own upbringing and how he doesn’t believe the content of questionable words and phrases always contain malicious intent. I’ve talked about intent before. I happen to agree with Kian Brown on this, and I often come across these things while writing fiction. It happened with a book I wrote as part of the Manhandled series with the pen name Dale Bishop. (Cover Photo above) In this case, it wasn’t racial. I wrote a character who was sexist in an innocent way. In other words, the character didn’t mean to be sexist and he didn’t hate women. In fact, he had a great deal of respect for women and good intentions, without a hint of malice. But he wasn’t familiar with words like misogynist or rape culture. And an editor asked me to revise a few of this character’s comments in the dialogue because she thought some readers would take it the wrong way. We actually had a huge discussion about this at the time, because I felt as if I were being censored.

But frankly, I saw her point and I made the revisions. We live in a highly charged politically correct world now and everyone has to watch everything he or she says. The last thing I wanted was to have some lunatic author who hangs out on the fringes of twitter and absolute write accusing me of being sexist because of one misunderstood character. But I shouldn’t have had to do those revisions. The character wasn’t a misogynist and he had good intentions. But for the sake of avoiding a shitstorm with these certain reviewers, I toned him down and changed the dialogue.

I’ve actually been planning a blog post about how authors sometimes need to explain themselves in fiction to avoid issues with some of these reviewers who take everything so literally and don’t take intention into consideration. I recently had another case where I was accused of writing BDSM without explaining it, and nothing could have been farther from the truth. There was no BDSM in the book, and the reviewer clearly didn’t understand the BDSM lifestyle. And it wasn’t a bad review either; it was a wrong review. No links in this case to protect the innocent. I actually don’t think the reviewer had any malicious intent, which is an interesting turn of events in itself for me to admit.

In any case, I think it’s an interesting letter to Paula Deen and I think that Kian Brown is a very elegant man, and I’ve also stated before on this blog that one of the greatest parts of American culture is that we have the ability to forgive and let people start over. And I think time will tell with Paula Deen.  
 

If I Were Paula Deen’s Literary Agent

If I Were Paula Deen’s Literary Agent

There has been a great deal written and discussed about television personality and cookbook author, Paula Deen, in the past two weeks. And one of the things I was watching closely was what would happen with her upcoming cookbook with Random House, and how Deen’s literary agent would react.

In spite of how much I hate the N-word, and anything even remotely related to racism, I’ve tried to remain objective while posting about Paula Deen. And this post is strictly about books and publishing and I’m not offering any subjective comments now on Deen’s situation. But since this is a publishing related post and it deals with Deen’s cookbook, I did want to comment on Random House canceling her book.

Random House has canceled the publication of Paula Deen’s upcoming cookbook Paula Deen’s New Testament, as well as four other cookbooks Deen was on contract to write with imprint Ballantine, the publishing house announced in a statement Friday.

Random House was not the first to break ties with Deen, but they certainly did wait until almost the very end to see how things were going to play out. I’ve also read they allegedly may have canceled her books partly because major retail outlets have severed ties with Deen this past week, which basically means they might be worried they won’t have a place to sell the books once they are published. That’s only hearsay, and no one really knows if that’s a fact so I’m not linking to anything related to that. And it doesn’t even make sense to me because I’ve also read that Deen’s unpubbed cookbook rose to number one on Amazon last week because so many people wanted to show their support to Deen. And the fact is that people are supporting her in spite of how many companies are dropping her.

The book was scheduled for release in October, and in recent days pre-orders have raised it to No. 1 on the online bookseller’s sales ranks. Her 2011 cookbook, “Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible,” has risen to the second spot.

As an author, I know that Amazon accounts for a good deal of sales, and if someone can’t get something anywhere else they will go to Amazon…even if it’s a cookbook they can’t buy at Target or Wal-Mart. As a consumer I have done this many, many times when I’ve wanted something badly enough. As far as I know, Amazon has not refused to sell Deen’s books. At least I don’t think they have.

And if I were Paula Deen’s agent I would be looking out for the best interests of my client and doing what is right for my client. That’s what an agent does. I’m speaking strictly from a publishing POV right now. I’ve also been waiting to see what Deen’s agent would say about all this.

“I am confident that these books will be published and that we will have a new publisher,” Deen’s literary agent, Janis Donnaud, told the Associated Press.

Publishing is a business and agents work for/with authors. On a pragmatic level, no one can argue that point. Publishing is also about freedom of speech, whether you agree with what someone says or not. I find everything about what Alec Baldwin says repulsive, but I do think he has the right to say it. Evidently, there are many people who are supporting Deen, people of ALL races, who don’t think she got a fair deal. If that weren’t true the sales ranks on Amazon wouldn’t reflect these amazing numbers. And Deen’s agent can’t ignore that.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Deen’s agent didn’t advise her to self-publish the books. Other literary agents have found ways to work these things out as a partnership of sorts so there’s no conflict of interest. And it’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out. A publisher has every right to cancel a book if an author is in breach of contract for whatever reason (there are little clauses for things like this). But an author…any author…also has the right to get his/her books out to their readers as well. With all the options out there now for authors and literary agents, I think this might be just one more example in the future of another self-publishing success story.

Anne Rice Over Paula Deen

Anne Rice Over Paula Deen

Update Below *

In a new twist surrounding the Paula Deen deal, author Anne Rice has weighed in on the topic with a new brand of criticism that gets into “lynch mob culture.”

This is what Rice posted on facebook:

“What’s happening with Paula Dean [sic]? Is it fair? I never heard of her until today, and wow, this looks like a crucifixion,” Rice wrote, adding: “I may be wrong but aren’t we becoming something of a lynch mob culture? Is this a good example of that?”

I guess it’s plausible that you can live in the US and not know much about food culture, cookery, or personalities like Paula Deen. But not everyone agrees with me:

Meanwhile, Jeri Milburn quipped: “More shocking than these allegations against Paula is the fact that Anne has never heard of her until today!”

You can read more here. And you can check out Anne Rice’s facebook page yourself to see how people are responding. It’s a very interesting thread to read.

Suggesting this might be “lynch mob culture” is an interesting choice of words for Rice to use, given the historical significance of lynching in the south many years ago, and given the fact that she is an author and she’s aware of how important it is to choose words with care.

I grew up in a household where the N-word was never used. We weren’t saints. I often use the word fuck throughout a given day. I even write fuck here sometimes on this blog. I’ve called a few people chicken-fuckers. I’ve said worse than that on a bad day. I’ve written explicit sex scenes in books that would probably shock most people, including one that had a burping dick. I do think we can be too politically correct in the country sometimes. I’m afraid to use the word black, so I use African American or people of African descent so I won’t offend anyone. But I don’t use the N-word, and I never hear it used in my circles. And on those rare occasions when I hear someone use the N-word it always makes me cringe and I will usually ask him or her not to use it in my presence…or I’ll just leave, right after I tell them to go fuck themselves.

As a side note, I grew up in a small southern NJ town in place that’s referred to as Sleepy Salem County, at the foot of the Delaware Memorial Bridge. There’s a strong southern influence there, and many of the streets are named after southern towns and states. I lived one blog away from Virginia Avenue. The Maryland border is about a half hour away. The Delaware Memorial Bridge is considered the gateway to the south. I’m in my forties, and from what I recall people often used words like “colored,” and “negro,” and as bad as that sounds now they meant no harm by it. But only the worst of the worst used the actual N-word. I have a true story to tell about this, which I’ll post at a later date. It still makes me cringe to think about it.

Update * This is from Rice’s facebook page, from the comment thread where she’s been replying all afternoon:

Thanks for so many wonderful and thoughtful comments on both sides of the issue. Wish I could read every single one but they’re moving too fast for me to cover all. I remain of the same opinion still. This is a public lynching. We live in dangerous times on many levels. Today no one can afford to say the slightest thing that is “politically incorrect.” I mean nothing. We all have to be extremely careful. I feel sorry for this woman. —- I have read the law suit, and if the statements made there by the person suing are accurate or truthful, obviously Paul Dean is a plain spoken woman, somewhat course, somewhat vulgar, and perhaps even what we call ignorant. But I’m not sure a person’s career should be destroyed because one is course, or vulgar or ignorant. America has been built by many such people who were hard working and fair minded while being vulgar and course at the same time. I will be thinking about this one for a long time. And I will NOT be watching the Food Network. Don’t anyway and won’t start. They’re a little too “politically correct” for me.

And I hope this is my last update about Rice. I’ve had just about enough, too.

Paula Deen the N-Word; The Q-word; Supreme Court/Gay Marriage

(Update: It doesn’t seem to be ending for Paula Deen. More sponsors may terminate their relationship with her, and Smithfield Foods has terminated their relationship with her and issued a striking statement.)

(Update 2: And now there are more allegations of racism surfacing about Deen and her family. An attorney for the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition said current and former Paula Deen employees told him the famous cook and her brother discriminated against black employees, one of whom was consistently referred to as “my little monkey.”)

According to one article I read this morning, Paula Deen’s employees will now be affected by the category five shitstorm that happened when she admitted to using the N-word.

Paula Deen’s TV career is toast after the Food Network announced Friday that it would not be renewing the popular shows “Paula’s Best Dishes” and “Paula’s Home Cooking” after her contract expires at the end of June.

But is she really “toast?”

Tons of fans, of all races, have swamped her facebook page with support. I read another article this weekend that said fans and supporters lined up in the hundreds outside her restaurant in Savannah. Fellow chefs have come to her defense. There are far too many to link to or mention. But here’s one I found that’s less slanted than most.

“I was shocked. I thought she’d get a fair trial,” Wilson, a nurse from Jacksonville, Fla., said Saturday after stopping to buy souvenirs at the gift shop Deen owns next to her Savannah restaurant. “I think the Food Network jumped the gun.”

Here’s a link to Deen’s facebook page. I don’t follow her.

Of course I can’t help thinking about how all this is related to the Q-word…Queer. I’ve been open about how I find the word Queer cringe-worthy at best. It brings to mind negative images from my past and present, and I know for a fact there are still people calling gays “queers” in a very negative way. There are bad jokes about queers, and offensive metaphors and similes about queers. I know many other gay men and women who agree with me (a lot e-mail me in private because they are afraid to talk about it openly). However, I’ve learned to live with the Q-word because I don’t seem to have any choice in the matter. I don’t hold it against anyone who uses the queer word the “right” way. There are people who use the word because they claim it will take the negative stigma away. I get that. On a certain level I agree with it, but I’m a realist, too, and words are strong.

In the same respect, there’s been this very same debate over the N-word. I remember Oprah Winfrey devoting an entire show to it once a while back. Frankly, when I first heard that Paula Deen admittedly used the N-word I started to wonder about how often she used the Q-word, too. It stands to reason. Then I started to wonder how she would use the Q-word…in what context. Clearly, from what I’ve read, Deen was not using the N-word in a positive way.

Evidently, there’s a double standard, though. It’s okay to offend me and thousands of other gay people by using the Q-word because it’s politically correct to do this, but it’s not okay to use the N-word at any time, or in any context. Because in spite of all the lobbying I’ve seen to take the negative stigma away from the N-word by using it openly, no one has yet to remove the hideous racist images that the N-word is associated with. It’s still offensive in any context, especially if you use it and you’re not of African descent. And I think what happened to Paula Deen is a good example of this, and how strongly so many of us feel about the racist implications associated with the N-word. But there are some who can get away with calling me a queer and I’m supposed to smile and take it because they don’t mean any harm. But they are also the same people who would never use the N-word. If that’s not a double standard I don’t know what is.

I’m starting to think that maybe it is time to remove the stigma and negative associations to both words…queer and the N-word. Unfortunately, I just can’t bring myself to type the N-word out no matter how hard I try.

Supreme Court/Gay Marriage

This is the day many of us have been waiting for. The Supreme Court will be ruling on gay marriage, and we’ll find out whether or not the massive fight for equality continues on.

As the term draws to a close at the end of this week, the nine justices still have not released decisions in two highly anticipated gay marriage cases—Perry v. Hollingsworth and Windsor v. United States—as well as two key cases involving race, Shelby County v. Holder and Fisher v. University of Texas.

At 9:15 a.m., the experts at SCOTUSblog—SCOTUS stands for Supreme Court of the United States—will begin analyzing what the Court might do in the liveblog below, and when a decision is handed down, this liveblog will likely be the first place to break the news.


I have no idea how to predict this one. When you’ve been kicked around and disappointed so many times, you learn to anticipate with caution, and never to assume anything. You are also prepared to stand up fast, and keep on fighting if that’s what you have to do.

Photo


Sam Taylor-Johnson Fifty Shades Movie; N-Word Paula Deen; Ex-Gay Group Apology

According to this article, they’ve chosen a director for the Fifty Shades Movie, Sam Taylor-Johnson. So the movie adaptation is moving forward, but still no announcement about who is going to star in the film.

Sam Taylor-Johnson (formerly Taylor-Wood), a famed photographer and visual artist turned filmmaker, made her directorial debut with 2009’s “Nowhere Boy,” a chronicle of the early years of John Lennon, played by future “Kick-Ass” star Aaron Johnson. The director and her star were later married, despite her being 23 years his senior.

Does this mean Aaron Taylor-Johnson — the couple hyphenated their surnames after getting married — is now the top contender to play Christian Grey? Probably, even if only unofficially.
 
I have never seen any of her work, but I’m actually kind of glad they chose someone who has done films like “Nowhere Boy.” That’s a biopic that’s focused on the YA years of John Lennon. And now I’m going to make a point of watching it.
 
I’m not certain about Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Sam’s husband, playing Christian. I’m still plugging for Matt Bomer, and this time I’m doing that because he IS gay. That’s right; just because he’s gay. For years gay men in the film industry have played straight characters and no one ever knew it because those gay men were not able to come out of the closet. And now that gay men are able to come out of the closet in an industry that claims to be so openly liberal about everything I want to see these gay actors get the chance to play straight roles…just like Michael Douglas and Matt Damon played the gay roles in the Liberace film.
 
Let’s see how THAT works out!!
 
Just think about it for a minute. An openly gay man like Matt Bomer playing a straight character, instead of a closeted gay man like Rock Husdon playing a straight character. It’s an interesting concept with just the right twist of irony that might catch on someday.
 
Paula Deen and the N-Word
 
Speaking of politically incorrect train wrecks, this entire shitstorm with Paula Deen using the N-word has left my jaw hanging for the past two days. As far as I can see, this issue isn’t new. This all started over a year ago when a former employee sued Deen and her brother for racism, sexual harassment, and assault…but the transcripts were just released. And some of the things Paula Deen says in those transcripts makes me wonder how much butter is between her ears.
 
…she’s just given a deposition in which she admits that “Yes, of course” she throws around racial slurs at work and thinks an elegant idea for a wedding might be to staff it with black men pretending to be slaves. Who doesn’t? We’re all Americans here, right?
 
You can read more here, and this is a link to the actual deposition. If you do a simple search, this is trending everywhere from twitter to facebook.
 
This, I think, is a good example of what happens when dumb people get too much exposure and power. You can only hide that kind of stupidity for so long behind that good ole down home image, but sooner or later it’s going to be exposed, Y’awl.
 
Ex-Gay Group Apology
 
I’m a little sorry I didn’t write a completely separate post about this because it’s so interesting. But I was afraid I would ramble on too much, and I’ve learned through experience the less said the better sometimes. Long blog posts lose readers.  
 
The ex-gay group, Exodus International, is closing down and offering apologies to the LGBT community for things they’ve said and done in the past.
 
 I am sorry for the pain and hurt that many of you have experienced. I am sorry some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents.
 
This is what the logo on their banner reads: “Proclaiming Freedom from Homosexuality Since 1976.”
 
I think we’ll look back someday at reparative therapy as one of the most ridiculous concepts of our time.