The Paula Deen saga is the latest – but certainly not the last – instance of “celebrity done wrong” that brings with it the onslaught of communication experts, crisis counselors and image consultants offering their take on how to saunter back toward grace.
The advice is usually sound – – fess up to your mistake; make good with the offended group; be sincere, etc.
What you don’t typically hear from the pundits are two things: One, it isn’t surprising that Celebrity X slipped up and two, in many ways it is our own damn fault that the transgression is newsworthy.
Whether it is Paula Deen, the Kardashians or Paris Hilton before them, the Bachelor or Bachelorette, we live in a Reality TV world where we want to know what the Real Housewives think and what Duck Dynasty is doing away from the pond.
It will be interesting to see if Deen bounces back. Dropped sponsors. Lost book deal. Cancelled TV show. That said, we live in a forgiving society even more forgiving of certain transgressions when the offender has something to offer – perceived or otherwise – we find entertaining. It seems to be less about being contrite and more about surviving the social backlash while waiting for the next few news cycles to pass.
Is there anything we can do to prevent these outbursts from occurring and being covered? Probably not.
From a celebrity standpoint, no amount of spokesperson training can change who you are and what you believe – – especially when your celebrity persona/brand is one that is outlandish and talking from the hip. One of the challenges celebrities and other high-profile/public eye individuals face is the: 15 second sound-bite/140 character/attention-span light society that we live in…actually, that is a double-edge sword.
On one hand, there certainly is a percentage of people who treat as gospel things heard second or third hand. On the other hand, there is also a percentage of individuals (with some overlap) who gravitate over to the latest shiny, new person.
From a consumer standpoint, as long as we elevate those looking for their 15 minutes onto a pedestal, we will always have rants, ignorant comments and questionable behavior making headlines. Until we are honest with ourselves and take the source for what it is worth, we will have TMZ, your local Contemporary Hit Radio station and even Matt Lauer and Today reporting on marginal news.
Many have said Paula didn’t mean anything by her comments and it was just – with apologies to Manny Ramirez – Paula being Paula. And that may very well be the case.
So the question remains: Are we good with Paula being Paula, Kim being Kim and Honey Boo Boo being Honey Boo Boo?