I don’t like celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. There, I said it. I don’t like his school lunch advocacy that tries to set up lunch ladies as the villains of the student nutrition story; I don’t like his “sustainable seafood” program that overfishes endangered species; I don’t like his stupid smug face. So I am 0% surprised to have a new reason to dislike him today. Apparently, Oliver thinks tricking his oldest daughter into eating spicy peppers as a punishment is hilarious; I, in turn, think Oliver is a dick.
Oliver spoke to reporters at the BBC Good Food Show over the weekend, and related this charming anecdote about his oldest daughter, Poppy:
”˜I give them chillies for punishment. It is not very popular beating kids any more, it’s not very fashionable and you are not allowed to do it and if you are a celebrity chef like me it does not look very good in the paper. So you need a few options.’
Oliver went on to explain how after Poppy had been disrespectful, he waited a few minutes to make it seem like he’d forgotten about her misbehavior. (Because discipline obviously works best when it’s as disconnected as possible from the behavior you want to correct.) Oliver then cut up an apple for her, and before serving it, he rubbed the slices with a Scotch Bonnet pepper. (If you’re not familiar with them, Scotch Bonnets generally work out to be somewhere from 10 to 100 times hotter than a standard jalapeno.) He then describes laughing at her shock when she ate it – you know, like good dads do when they’re administering punishment and/or pain to their kids.
Now, yes, this story did originate in the Daily Fail, excuse me, I mean Mail. I’m guessing the quote was taken out of context – while I believe the story really happened more or less as Oliver described, the article makes it sound like he uses surprise pepper attacks as a routine disciplinary alternative to ‘beating kids’. I’m guessing he meant that part as a joke. It’s just not funny to talk about how you don’t hit your children because it doesn’t look good in the papers. It’s not really funny to joke about beating kids in general, actually. And another thing that’s not funny? Pranking your 12-year-old because she sassed you, and then telling the press about it so you look like a cool, funny guy (at least in your own mind).
The kind of person who names his children “Daisy Boo” and “Buddy Bear” may not have the strongest sense that they’re actual individuals who exist apart from him and who maybe shouldn’t get their mouths scrubbed out with something far more painful than soap for talking back. How are your kids supposed to trust you as a parent when instead of confronting them and discussing their bad behavior, you trick them and then laugh at their misery? His cheerful description of his prank reminds me very much of the parents who punish their kids by publicly shaming them and posting the video of the punishment to Facebook and YouTube. Is it really about teaching your kids a lesson? Or is it about having a laugh at their expense – and trying to get everyone else to join in high-fiving you over your crappy parenting while you’re at it? I wonder.
(Image: Daily Mail)