You know you are in deep-fat trouble when a pork producer drops your celebrity contract. For Paula Deen, it is the latest fallout from her fall from grace after admitting to uttering racial slurs.
The Food Network dropped Deen's cooking show, which catapulted the queen of deep fry into national prominence, and now Smithfield Hams has signed her off at its spokesperson.
"Smithfield condemns the use of offense and discriminatory language and behavior of any kind. Therefore, we are terminating our partnership with Paula Deen," said a company statement.
Deen posted two online videos (the second was a do-over) apologizing for past "mistakes," while her company publicist explained, "She was born 60 years ago when America's South had schools that were segregated, different bathrooms, different restaurants and Americans rode in different parts of the bus, This not today."
At least the publicist understands the problem — that's how the world was 60 years ago, not now. Deen gave an interview in 2012 where she inexplicably defended the merits of slavery.
And so we have yet another case study of self-immolating a brand.
This isn't the first time Deen has been in boiling water. She took heat last year for belatedly admitting she was diabetic after years of promoting carb and cholesterol food bombs. She told an interviewer she didn't plan on letting her diagnosis — or the calorie count of her recipes — interfere with how she wanted to eat.
Fans of all races have come forward to offer varying degrees of defense for Deen, including on the We Support Paula Deen page on Facebook. But admiration cannot erase the ugly profile of Deen off-camera, as revealed in her deposition in a lawsuit filed by a former Deen employee alleging racial discrimination. Racial slurs and black jokes apparently weren't a thing of the past; they were regular parts of her patter.
Many personalities and famous people have seen their reputations sliced up because of an act of poor judgment or a bad old habit they didn't break.
If there is any lesson to learn in today's fishbowl Internet culture, it should be there are no secrets. If you have a past you would like to forget, don't count on it. Your past is a lot more indelible than you imagine.
Redemption is possible, but you have to seek it sincerely — and before damnation is raining down your neck.