Perhaps it's both. Let's all admit that they are incredibly irresponsible for hiring Deen, since she is nothing more than a corporate shill whose very real and often vile thoughts about race finally surfaced. And let's also admit that DWTS' lagging ratings season after season has forced ABC to make this unpopular choice. Networks do this quite a bit in hopes of getting people to hate-watch their programming. But this time I'm aghast at their choice. Were Bill Cosby or Stephen Collins unavailable? ABC clearly wants us to hate-watch DWTS, since their focus groups probably told them that Deen was too controversial a figure to deserve a comeback. But ABC understands that hate-watching is often more prolific and a better predictor of ratings than just watching. You remember that famous scene in Howard Stern's Private Parts when Pig Vomit learns that people who hate Stern listen twice as long as people who love him, right? Same thing here.
Do I need to remind you of the horrible things Deen said (and meant) and how her phony crocodile tears of apology on the Today Show did nothing to dissuade every single one of her sponsors from dropping her?
Maybe I do. Back in 2012, we learned through court documents that during the planning of Bubba's wedding, Mama Deen allegedly said this:
"Well, what I would really like is a bunch of little n****** to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties. You know, in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around. Now, that would be a true Southern wedding, wouldn't it? But we can't do that because the media would be on me about that."
Then she proved to us again that she can't get out of her own way when she admitted, "Yes, of course I used the N-word" and then blamed her Southern roots, as if it's OK to be hatefully ignorant in the South. This is like one of those Zen koan parables: "If all your friends jumped off a bridge…" Except she's an elitist racist, and the bridge is her mouth saying shitty things about an entire race of people who are still fighting for respect.
The simple fact that major companies such as JCPenney, Walgreens, Sears, QVC, Home Depot and finally Target distanced themselves from Deen immediately after it was revealed that she is the hateful person we all hoped she wasn't should tell ABC's parent company, Disney, that they may have made a huge mistake.
Are we already out of "stars"? Why would ABC think that we needed to help an aging racist find her way back into the fold? She doesn't deserve more of our attention or any more of our money, which is exactly what she's after since losing every major sponsor she's had. She isn't special, nor does she deserve to make the $125,000 she will receive from ABC for her appearance, and potentially more if she stays. There is an extensive potential pool of controversial Food Network stars who should be dancing in her place. Didn't Bobby Flay just get divorced and wasn't he accused of infidelity? He could use a few weeks of shaking his booty.
The timing of allowing Deen to dance as if everything is fine and joyous on such a family-friendly, safe show is even more upsetting. Nobody with such a recent racist past should be dancing so happily when you consider the Confederate flag controversy, Sandra Bland's death and fellow white blond lady Elisabeth Hasselbeck asking "why the Black Lives Matter movement has not been classified as a hate group." You really want to stir this pot, ABC? I'd like to be thinking about kittens and bunnies when I watch my DWTS — and to take a break from the reminder that we still live in a world where inequality exists.
And most importantly, I worry about any competition show where Gary Busey is not the most bizarre choice of contestant.
Dancing with the Stars premieres Monday, Sept. 14 at 8/7c.
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