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In Which Ina Garten Doesn't Make a Wish

There are other, more thoughtful posts floating around on my computer half-written but I am annoyed in a more than 140 character kind of way about today's twitter outrage. In a nutshell, Ina Garten declined to cook with a terminally ill child who requested it through Make a Wish foundation.

We will now pause for the two-minute hate.

Done? Good. Moving on...

Enzo's parents have a blog, with the most relevant post here. I am providing this for perspective only, I am not here to diss a sick child; I'm not even here to talk about him at all. I think it is unfortunate that he didn't get his first choice wish. While we all have to deal with disappointment, this is clearly difficult for a child this age to even understand. I hope that his day of swimming with the dolphins truly rocks and wish him nothing but the best.

My questions are about the other side: what do celebrities owe us and how do we react when they disappoint us?

The wish granting process is complicated and confidential and I am sure we will never know exactly what went on here. Nor do I really need to. But for the record, here are a few things we do not know:

  • If Ina Garten personally saw the request.
  • How much work was put into trying to make the boy's wish happen. It was first requested in 2008 when he was three (the cynic in me has questions but I am letting that slide) and only finally declined in the last few days. The logistics of coordinating  a celebrity schedule with the impact of the child's illness and treatment can't be easy. Who knows what transpired during that time; I sure don't.
  • How many other wishes Ms Garten has granted in the past. Conversly, who else has declined a MAW request and where's the bonfire for them?
  • Whether Ms Garten cried or danced a jig when she decided she couldn't do this. Did anyone ever think she might have really wanted to get together with Enzo and just could not make it happen?

My assumption is that, since Ina Garten has worked with Make a Wish in the past, she is not any of the vile things she is being called on twitter at the moment. Seriously, if you are going to offend the kids, don't call yourself the Contessa, it's makes the 7th grade insults all too easy...

A sampling of the commentary:

The outpouring of hate goes on and on. There is the inevitable spam letter writing campaign, a twitter petition (with EIGHT signatures) and a Facebook page (18 fans). Many posts repeat the same few data points ad nauseum seeming to mostly exist for the purpose of hosting comments from people lashing out.

What really bothers me is the wholesale judgement and dismissal of everything Garten has done based on one small bit of a much larger story. There are people talking about burning their copies of her books—Enzo's mom gets a pass, she can burn whatever the heck she wants—getting Food TV to cancel her show, and other crazy stuff.

Sadly the original "news" source on this mess seems to be TMZ, which may explain some of the idiocy showing up in comments. But I have also seen a lot of normally thoughtful food folk, people I hang with on twitter, writing Ina off based on the little bit of data they have about this one thing. Yes, even some of the nice ones.

But I have to wonder...

Is it fair to judge someone based on TMZ's spin of how awful they were to a seriously ill child? Could you hold up to those standards?

What do celebrities owe their fans? Given that they are human and only have 24 hours in the day, when do they get to say enough and take a step back or a day off?

If you think you just don't say no to a Make a Wish kid, what's the limit? Let's imagine this was Miley Cyrus, there could be dozens of kids a year (or more) whose wish was to meet Miley. Is she to meet all of them?

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