Justin Bieber is the latest celeb to be caught using racist language and looking at last year’s coverage of Paula Deen and her fall from grace it seems that there is an age versus beauty issue here. Celebrity cook Deen had been vilified by critics after it came to light that she had used the “N” word.
The use of the racist word came to light during a court case where a former employee was suing the television personality and restaurateur Deen for allegedly being discriminatory and sexually harassing employees at her eatery.
The 67 year-old Georgia native had admitted, under oath, that “years before” while stressed, she had called someone the “N” word. Reaction from media sites and the public was immediate as was the action taken by the television network which aired her cookery shows. Just as quick were the many companies who had entered into business partnerships with Deen to completely distance themselves from the disgraced cook.
While the culinary “expert” on southern dishes was deserted by her many business partners and colleagues, her fans stood by her. Some even started Facebook pages in support of the sullied southern bell. The incident, which her supporters say was blown out of all proportion, effectively crushed the career of a woman whose culinary empire was set to rise and rise.
Now we have Justin Bieber versus Paula Deen; a case of age versus beauty in this racist issue. There could also be a matter of nationality as well in the reactions to Bieber’s faux pas which was caught on tape for posterity. This is where the entire thing becomes very interesting.
Deen was never seen, nor heard, using the racially inflammatory word that she confessed to using under oath. Yet this older woman was hounded, harassed and attacked in print. Her professional partners dropped the television cook like a hot rock, although a few did stick around.
The 20 year-old Canadian pop star was filmed not once, but twice, using the defamatory word. Bieber’s mentor Usher has gone on record stating that the young YouTube star he took under his wing is not racist. A long list of celebrities have stood up for the the bad boy performer citing his youth as the excusing factor in this racial blowup.
However, not all celebrities are jumping to Justin’s defense. American rapper Lupe Fiasco has not leapt to the singers side but instead compared it to the recent Los Angeles Clippers furor surrounding owner Donald Sterling. Fiasco said that the entire issue is “absurd.” Stating that celebrities “we like” are quickly forgiven and that this perplexing, yet true.
This leaves the subject of age and nationality, on top of address as a potential factor in this whole mess. Paula Deen is from the south. It was this locational slant that enabled her to build her culinary empire. Selling herself as an uncompromising southern belle, who charmed everyone. Being in an older age bracket she came across like a lovely, and slightly eccentric aunt.
But image spinning aside, the revelation that she had used the “N” word to an ethnic minority sealed her fate. Why? Because there cannot be a denizen of the southern states that does not realise the amount of racism that still prevails below that Mason Dixon line. Sad but true. British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver was distressed and surprised to see that race was still an issue in the south on his U.S. road trip cookery show in 2009. Regardless of how long ago she utter the word, Deen’s career was damaged.
Justin Bieber, vs Paula Deen, does not come from the American south. He was also at that incredibly difficult age of 14, or 15, when the incidents occurred. So it could be a case of age, Deen at 67 and Bieber at 14 or, as intimated by Lupe Fiasco, a case of “beauty,” celebs that “we like.” At 20 years of age, with his appeal to both sexes, he recently admitted to being bisexual, his beauty has fans in the legion that goes by the name Beliebers ready to forgive any transgression. So far, the singer does not appear to have any real career concerns over a couple of incidents that occurred before he, according to Usher, “knew any better.” He might not weather this storm so well if another “racist” video shows up.
By Michael Smith