Return of the Irvine
I believe it was Emily Dickinson who said, “Fame is a fickle food.” Now, I don’t know how much credence I’d put in a food-based metaphor from 150 years ago. After all, I’m fairly sure that they ate squirrel back then. Still, knowing what we now know about fame, celebrity and how quickly one can go from the top to the bottom, it’s doubtful that anyone would argue with the premise of her poem. We see it playing out in nearly every area of public life, be it politics, Hollywood or sports.
In order to prove that you’re worth your salt when it comes to public awareness, it’s not enough just to have one of your stars publicly humiliated and cast into oblivion. No. In order to prove that you’re ready for the spotlight, you have to go the full J.C. Downfall, followed by the required time in purgatory, and, finally, resurrection.
From a Food Network statement:
“Our audience has continued to demonstrate its interest in and support for Robert. He has taken responsibility and made a conscious effort to clear the air, rebuild the relationship with Food Network and apologize for the earlier inaccuracies,” said Food Network spokeswoman Carrie Welch said in a written statement.
Think about your favorite troubled celebrity…your Amy Winehouse or your Adam “Pac-Man” Jones. Why, despite providing ample evidence that they are raging batshit crazy and willing to engage in behavior that is destructive to both themselves and those around them, do they manage to worm their way back into our lives? It’s easy. There is money to be made in music and sports and these folks have demonstrated an ability to generate money and attract interest in the past, and so they’ll always be able to find a willing employer.
Now, thanks to the Food Network empire, the print and online food press and the rest, “food celebrity” is a multi-billion dollar industry, which makes it something less than professional sports but something considerably more than it was ten years ago.
Irvine’s return may point to the fact that Food TV has moved into a higher echelon of popularity. Food Network has programming hours to fill and Robert Irvine, for all of his baggage (which you likely don’t even know about unless you follow this stuff on the Internet), is a known commodity who has proven his ability to carry the show. And so, it’s “welcome back,
And, hey, just because someone is returning from the wilderness doesn’t mean he can’t end up back on top. Sure, there’s always the chance you could end up the food-world equivalent of a pudgy Brittany sleep-dancing her way through an MTV appearance, destined to forever be a punchline.
Or maybe you’re an optimist. Food celebrity, you may now have your very own Robert Downey, Jr. That’s fine, because America loves a comeback story.
What do ya’ll think? Does Irvine deserve another chance, or should he be banished to the wilderness?