Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Duck Dynasty Kerfuffle

OK, I must confess that I think I have seen one whole episode of the wildly popular television show Duck Dynasty.
And to be honest, it is not my cup of tea. The whole reality show thing is so over saturated, IMHO. They are not  really that much on "reality" as making a show on the cheap. Very little writing, no star that wants hundreds of thousands of dollars an episode. It is the ultimate way for television companies to make big bucks on the cheap.
But what happens when reality does end up a result of a reality show?
Well, that is what happened to Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the clan that has parlayed a company called Duck Commander, which sells duck-hunting calls into a show on the Outdoor Channel and eventually on A & E television on standard cable.
Mr. Robertson is a very traditionalist person, especially in his religion. He is very open about it. He has preached at his home church, White's Ferry Road Church. Why Mr. Robertson even serves as an elder of his church's board. An elder is the equivalent to being a vestry member in an Anglican/Episcopal church.
A huge aspect of Mr. Robertson's traditionalism his how he feels about homosexuality. Again, I let him speak for himself direct from this interview with GQ magazine and writer, Drew Magery:

It seems like, to me, a vagina - as a man - would be more desirable than a man's anus. That's just me. I'm just thinking: Theres more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on dudes! You know what I'm saying? But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man. It's not logical.

OK, a little TMI for my taste. But he is describing the difference between a male heterosexual and a homosexual. One wants sex with women and one wants sex with men. But, he calls it sinful. In Mr. Robertson's mind, it is sinful behavior.
But since he was asked and answered this question, the writer, Mr Magery, proceeds to ask Mr. Robertson about sin and what is sinful behavior. Again, direct from Mr. Robertson:

"Everything is blurred on what's right and wrong," he says. "Sin becomes fine."
Start with homosexual behavior and morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and those women and those men, he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: "Don't be deceived. Neither the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers - they won't inherit the Kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right."

To be clear, Mr. Robertson is talking about the sexual act of homosexuality in general. However, he adds a little bit more than what is written. You can read the passage from I Corinthians right here. This is what one comes to believe in when in a evangelical, fundamentalist church.
And also, Mr. Robertson does have a very personal experience being that drunkard he spoke above. He was a bad, horrible man. He was a hell raiser. And confronted by his wife, Kay, he broke down, gave it to the Lord and became a Christian.
Now Mr. Robertson was also asked about something else that I really thought would be more controversial than this. But give it time. He was asked about growing up the pre-civil rights Louisiana and, well straight from the horses mouth:

"I never, with my own eyes, saw any mistreatment of a black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I'm with the Blacks because we're White trash. We're going across the field... .There singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one Black person, say, 'I tell you what: Those doggone White people' - not a word! ... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues."

OK, I'm going to go with that maybe he had an idealized memory of that time. It is possible that the Blacks that he interacted with at that time were pretty cool. I have to admit, I do believe that he thought he had more in common with the Blacks because of he and his family being White trash. Interesting take. And there is something about people in general before the rise of the Welfare State. I would dare not single out one particular group of people. For it has done damage to all groups. But sadly, the statistics regarding Blacks and government dependency are some of the worst. And I totally disagree that Blacks, as a group, are not godly. In comparison to the general American population, Blacks are much more likely to attend church and be open about their faith.
Well, I do recommend that you read the whole interview that I linked because it is not good to cherry pick as the media has done on both sides.
So what happened?
A & E decided that Mr. Robertson should be suspended from any future shows of Duck Dynasty. This is important because as luck would have it, the current season is already filmed. And this does not count on the Duck Dynasty marathon that will be aired this weekend on the cable channel.
To be blunt, it is a chicken's way of claiming to take a stand and still milking some money off of a guy that the channel deems a bad dude for speaking his mind.
I must digress because some readers will ask why did I back Martin Bashir being fired for vile remarks he made about former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. And why I liked MSNBC for canning actor Alec Baldwin for using anti-gay slurs.
First with Mr. Bashir.
He made his comments, that he hoped someone would pee in and take a dump in Mrs. Palin's mouth, on the air. It was written out and he was mad that she used the word slavery in regard to the Dear Leader, President Obama's economic policies. To someone not all there, Mr. Bashir was in his commentary giving someone a licence to carry out such a vile action. You just can't talk like that on television. Even on a network that is barely watched.
And in regards to Mr. Baldwin, he is the poster child of liberal hypocrisy. Telling the gay-rights crowd he is all in with their cause. But when he gets hot under the collar, he resorts to calling people faggot or c--- - sucker. Uh, last I checked, those are not terms of endearment.
But back to this situation.
At this point, Mr. Robertson is just suspended. He is not fired. Yet if you read the interview, he realizes that the show maybe getting near the end. Even if it is the most popular show on the A & E network.
But why did A & E buckle before there was any real heat put on by the usual suspects? it is curious because they knew what they were getting with the Robertson clan. And especially with Phil. And while Duck Dynasty is not a political show at all. But they will not allow the network to cut out decidedly Christian prayers before meals. And they had to know that Mr. Robertson had very traditional views on a whole range of current events.
So they can't claim ignorance.
My full take is simple.
Mr. Robertson does have his right not only to his beliefs but free to discuss them. I would not have fallen into the clear trap that Mr. Magery set for him. But maybe he did not see it as a trap but as an outlet.
A & E does have the right to do what it did but should have spoken with Mr. Robertson to get some clarification if need be. He does deserve that courtesy. The network can do what it wants. But it also has to weigh the fact that this is their number one show. It is probably not watched by many gays, lesbians or Blacks. And maybe they that do would not stop watching the show. What they have done is imply by the suspension that one's beliefs should not be on display. At least if that one is a traditionalist.
I leave you with this from Ed Morrissey as he states the obvious.
Let's not have any reality in our reality television, please.

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