Edited By William M. Reynolds
Chapter Seventeen: Paula Deen and Those Days of White Magnolias with Bitter Tea
Paula Deen and Those Days of White Magnolias with Bitter Tea
The United States has gone through (and is continuing to go through) a recession that can be compared only to the Great Depression of the 1930s. In the 1930s Margaret Mitchell wrote her romantic nostalgic novel about the South of plantation myths filled with chivalry and petticoats, peach trees and femininity. At the core of this was Scarlett O’Hara, a character whose performance of extreme femininity celebrated while concurrently manipulated gendered codes embedded in the patriarchy. Romance, nostalgia, and escapist Busby Berkley musicals helped placate a nation facing unimaginable economic collapse. These characterizations “kept alive a belief in the possibility of individual success, portrayed a government capable of protecting its citizens from external threats, and sustained a vision of America as a classless society. Again and again, Hollywood repeated the same formulas: A poor boy from the slums climbs the ladder of success” (Mintz & McNeil, 2013, n.p).
Would You Like Some Bacon with That Bigotry?
During the “Great Recession in the Age of Obama” it is Paula Deen whose performance from (trash) bags to riches represents the “ingenuity and scrappy feminism” of a phoenix rising from the ashes of poverty, illness, and betrayal to assume her rightful place in the world of wealth and opulence. Both the Scarlett O’ Hara and Paula Deen characters made race invisible in the stories of their respective...
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