“It’s a long way from Gone With The Wind to Django Unchained,” writes Rod Dreher in a “reluctant defense” of embattled celebrity chef Paula Deen.
He’s not a fan of her work — and concedes there is still much to learned about some of the allegations lodged against her — but concludes that her past comments might be explained by accepting that she holds to a “moonlight-and-magnolias romanticism that is common among white Southerners of her generation.”
“[A]cute sensitivity is a fairly new thing in American culture. Every younger white Southerner who holds enlightened opinions on race knows that you have to allow for the cultural deformation of older white Southerners. Every one of us knows elderly whites who, despite their residual racism, have done more good for particular black neighbors than many of us who believe the right things, but who have done little or nothing to help actual black people in our midst.
I think of the old white lady I interviewed two decades ago in my town. She was politically incorrect on race, and hopelessly innocent of her ignorance. But she was helping lead an ultimately successful charge to save a poor black church from a developer’s wrecking ball. It takes a Puritan to regard that woman as a simplistic villain.”
His point is that Deen could be an otherwise decent person and someone who has lost touch with the expectations of the modern world.
Regional differences aside, this generational dichotomy is such a common phenomenon some people are openly laughing about it. Consider this skit from Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer, where Schumer introduces her Hispanic boyfriend Carlos to her grandmother (and hijinks ensue):
SCHUMER: (as herself) All of our friends had left us, and we were both stuck there. I mean Napa Valley of all places, but that’s basically how Carlos(ph) and I met.
GRANDMOTHER: (as character) I am very happy to meet you. Also, I’m finished.
SCHUMER: (as herself) Oh my God, grandma, no, Carlos is not a busboy. He’s my boyfriend. I’m so sorry.
CARLOS: Amy, it’s OK. She grew up during a different time.
GRANDMOTHER: (as character) Tell him to start mowing the lawn by the pool so it’ll be quiet for my nap.
SCHUMER: Look familiar? Are you tired of your elderly relatives thinking their blatant racism is OK?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (As character) I don’t know how to help my (bleep) grandma.
SCHUMER: There is an answer: Generations, a revolutionary new facility where we give your elderly loved ones the politically correct social skills to get along in the modern world.
We might be willing to forgive our aging grandmother for political correctness, but Paula Deen’s only 66-years old — and that’s no longer considered to be “old.” And she’s not some shut-in living an antebellum existence. She’s one of the most successful celebrity chefs of the era.
Still, I suspect Dreher is on to something. It’s not an excuse, but it might be an explanation. Time for Deen to take a trip to Generations?