It’s a heaping portion of cowardice with a side of reflexive liberal cancel culture, courtesy of our most reliable provider: the New York Times.
After their star food columnist was pitchforked online last week for criticizing model and cookbook author Chrissy Teigen and reality TV organizer Marie Kondo, the paper — rather than stand by their writer, or have a private conversation with her — is clumsily trying to appease the online masses, publicly placing 34-year-old Alison Roman “on leave.”
Even better: the Times won’t say why!
Roman spoke about her burgeoning fame, the stark difference between the life she’s selling online — artisanal, stylish, privileged — and her actual life, one that has her living and working in a third-floor Brooklyn walk-up with no dishwasher, and no second house upstate. (For a Times denizen, that’s deprivation.)
“I do need to figure out how to turn this into money,” Roman said. “Straight up.”
In talking about ways she would and wouldn’t commodify her brand, Roman criticized Kondo, 35, and Teigen, 34. Kondo, Roman said, “decided to capitalize on her fame” as the guru of decluttering and “make stuff that you can buy. That is completely antithetical to everything she’s ever taught you.”
Yes! True! Marie Kondo, who has built an empire telling us to throw out everything we own that doesn’t “spark joy” — whatever that means — now sells tuning forks ($75), an “Organic Meditation Floor Cushion” ($169), a “French Flax hypoallergenic linen kimono robe” ($115), a deck of “Inner Compass Love Mediation Cards” ($55) and a “Zen egg” ($40), among other Goopy flotsam and jetsam on her website, shop.konmarie.com
Con Marie, indeed.
Teigen, Roman said, parlayed a successful cookbook into: “Boom, line at Target. Boom, now she has an Instagram page that has over a million followers where it’s just, like, people running a content farm for her. That horrifies me and it’s not something that I ever want to do. I don’t aspire to that. But, like, who’s laughing now? Because she’s making a ton of f - - king money.”
This is Roman’s opinion. Since when are we not allowed to have opinions, let alone voice them? Also, let’s be real: this is ultimately complimentary. Roman is admitting that she wants what Teigen has: “a ton of f - - king money.”
That said, part of the interview could be interpreted as problematic. Right after ripping into Kondo, Roman impersonated an infomercial hustler, saying, in part, “please to buy my cutting board!”
Some have taken that as Roman mocking an Asian person’s attempt at English. Roman denied that on Twitter, saying it was a reference to “Please to the Table,” an Eastern European cookbook.
Dan Frommer, who interviewed Roman, posted an addendum to his piece, writing, “I want to set the record unequivocally straight: Alison was not mocking an Asian accent when she said that to me, and any claim that she was is incorrect.”
Whatever Roman’s intent, this rush to cancel her — and shame on the Times for caving — is ridiculous and has nothing to do with the “please to” quote. It has only to do with what she said about Kondo and Teigen. The idea that Roman could lose her livelihood and reputation for vocalizing an interesting, non-media-trained take on two very wealthy, successful, famous women who will be just fine is terrifying. And why are the plebes defending the 1 percent here?
As of now, Kondo hasn’t commented.
Roman, by the way, already apologized profusely last week. I’d say she has nothing to apologize for, but of the many social maladies this virus has made stronger, cancel culture — even at a publication that should know better — is top among them.