How to be insensitive

Jann Arden's weird defence of Paula Deen turns into even weirder racial Twitter rant


One of the amazing thing about Twitter is its ability to illustrate how quickly someone can snap.

Take yesterday. There’s Juno Award-winning woman of song Jann Arden, tweeting lyrical couplets, updates about new Zevia flavours she’s excited about and links to articles about the collapse of the honeybee industry – did you that insect pollination was valued at $208 billion in 2005? – when suddenly, out of basically nowhere, she fishtails into some weird racially-tinged Twitter rant in support of sand-blasted Southern belle Paul Deen.

What “they” are doing to Paula Deen is disgusting. Those in glass houses should not throw stones.

– jann arden (@jannarden) June 25, 2013

What “they” are doing to Paula Deen is disgusting. Those in glass houses should not throw stones.

– jann arden (@jannarden) June 25, 2013

Arden’s use of “they” here is especially curious. Is she using it in that gross context of some racial other, like “they” as in black people who may be justifiably upset that a famous celebrity chef would be creating a hostile work environment? Or is she calling the white people lambasting Deen “they,” as if to call them hypocrites? Arden’s building a real mystery with this one.

She went on…

I thought the “N” word was NUTELLA.

– jann arden (@jannarden) June 25, 2013

if someone was to fire me over a word, well, Fuck…I have said them ALL!!

– jann arden (@jannarden) June 25, 2013

It’s unclear how you could “fire” someone from being a singer-songwriter. And the “Other projects” section of Arden’s Wikipedia entry is notably blank, so we’re not sure what to make of this.

Here comes another!

Ironically, it’s bigots who are going after Paula Deen’s character. Like they are perfect citizens?…what a bunch of bullshit.

– jann arden (@jannarden) June 25, 2013

Just like that song, the only real irony here is that this isn’t, really, ironic. (Is that even ironic? Who cares.) It’s not ironic that people are damning Paula Deen for being damnable. Maybe you’d be hard-pressed to find a person who hasn’t made a racist or otherwise insensitive joke. And no, nobody is perfect. But there’s a difference between letting something like this slip – or even privately harbouring it inside of your evil heart – and creating a culture defined by it…or publicly broadcasting over the Internet.

Also not sure how citizenship enters into the equation? Is being a racist somehow mutually exclusive from exercising the rites of statehood? If anything, Paula Deen’s whole Dixie-whistlin’-Southern-Mama-plantation-economy-slave-state-revivalist persona would suggest that it’s not.

After getting some gears from people who were shocked that Arden was going dark horse on the whole issue, she flipped into full on reactionary mode.

you bunch of whities. wittles? I’ll think of something.

– jann arden (@jannarden) June 25, 2013

there isn’t enough Klonopin in the world.

– jann arden (@jannarden) June 25, 2013

It’s peculiar that Arden would assume that it’s mostly white people who are offended by Paula Deen using “the n-word” and referring to a black chef as “my little monkey.”

Not about to let it linger, Arden went for a jog as a way to exorcise her demons.

okay, I am going for a run and I am going to say all the N words I know out loud to the squirrels. Call ET canada and the food network.

– jann arden (@jannarden) June 25, 2013

She then did that half-defeated thing people do when they got caught in stuff like this on Twitter, when everything dies down, when the heartache is over. She pretended to just be some all-purpose rabble-rouser exploiting the freedom Twitter possesses to offer a direct-line between the barely-conscious mind and the public sphere.

And now my views on abortion and assisted suicide…stay tuned! I fucking love twitter.

– jann arden (@jannarden) June 25, 2013

I have to go to my whale killers for Jesus meeting now.

– jann arden (@jannarden) June 25, 2013

All together, this is almost as notable as that time last March when Jann Arden got kicked off a Via Rail train and then took to Twitter about it. How would we live without you, Jann!

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