Friday, December 27, 2013

Duck Dynasty Controversy

I was vaguely aware the show even existed but knew nothing concrete about it until the present controversy. I think this article from the National Catholic Register says it quite well:
It seems what the producers intended and what A&E envisioned with the show is much different than the show that they ended up with, but they didn't do anything about it because it was so wildly popular and so wildly profitable.  But even with all the money, they have never really been comfortable with what happened.

This is what happened.  The whole idea of the show was to parade these nouveau riche Christian hillbillies around so that we could laugh at them. "Look at them," we were supposed to say.  "Look how backward they are!  Look what they believe!  Can you believe they really live this way and believe this stuff?  See how they don't fit in? HAHAHA!"

When the producers saw the way the show was shaping up, different than they envisioned it, they tried to change course.  They tried to get the Robertson's to tone down their Christianity, but to their eternal credit they refused.  They tried to add fake cussin' to the show by inserting bleeps where no cussword was uttered.  At best, they wanted to make the Robertson's look like crass buffoons. At worst they wanted them to look like hypocrites.

They desperately wanted us to laugh at the Robertsons.  Instead, we loved them.
A&E wanted us to point fingers at them and laugh at them.  But something else happened entirely.  Millions upon millions of people tuned in, not to laugh at them, but to laugh with them.

And then we pointed at them.  We pointed at them and said things like, "I wish my family was more like them.  I wish we prayed together as a family.  I wish we were together like the Robertsons."

By the time this all happened, A&E had a conundrum.  They knew who the Robertsons were and what they believe and they still held it in disdain.  But they really liked the money.  Really liked the money. So they lived with it.

But the progressives whose bank accounts were not growing fatter because of these backward rubes were never inclined to look the other way.  They hate the show and they really hate the response to the show.  They want it destroyed.

Many magazines and interviewers have tried to get the Robertsons to trip up so they could pounce.  When Phil backed the Christian viewpoint on homosexuality and added some personal asides about how he just couldn't understand it, they had their moment.

I suspect that the folks at A&E, who always disliked the positive Christian message in the show of which Phil is the primary proponent, saw their chance.  They want to keep the cash but dial down the Christianity.  With Phil out, perhaps they could get the show they always wanted.

I suspect that the Robertsons are more principled than that and A&E will end up disappointed on many levels.  The Robertsons are who they are and I suspect the money means a great deal more to A&E than it does to them.

It will be interesting to see whether A&E likes the money more than they hate the Christianity.  I wouldn't be surprised if the hate wins. (Read more.)
In the meantime, Camille Paglia calls the persecution of Phil Robertson "uterly fascist, utterly Stalinist." To quote:
 I think that this intolerance by gay activists toward the full spectrum of human beliefs is a sign of immaturity, juvenility.This is not the mark of a true intellectual life. This is why there is no cultural life now in the U.S. Why nothing is of interest coming from the major media in terms of cultural criticism. Why the graduates of the Ivy League with their A, A, A+ grades are complete cultural illiterates, etc. is because they are not being educated in any way to give respect to opposing view points.” (Read more.)


julygirl said...

People who produce TV and film and are 'isolated' in the megalopolis of NYC or L.A. do not realize who and what the vast population outside those areas think and believe. I, myself, who for most of my life had lived mainly in large cities was stunned to discover the mainstream thought of the rest of America. The U.S.demographic who are nameless, faceless, and brainless in the eyes of TV producers have a surprise for them.....that is that they have an intellect which in some ways surpasses that of the people who choose to exploit them.

Unknown said...

Khloe Kardashian and her soon to be ex-husband, Lamar Odom, also spoke of the role which family prayer played in their lives and how important it was for them, as a couple and as a family, to pray every evening.

I believe I read today that Mr Robertson was reinstated after a ban that lasted precisely zero filming days. It turns out the shadowy liberal intelligentsia at A&E must have valued their cheque-books a lot more even than the many articles criticising them suggested. While I don't agree with banning Mr Robertson, he didn't say or do anything as cosy as simply imply that homosexuality was something he didn't understand beyond Scriptural teachings on it. He referred to homosexuals by saying, "They are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless". He accused them, as a unified collective, of being part of a conspiracy to suppress religion entirely. He blamed Shintoism for causing Pearl Harbor ("Uh, Shintos? They started this thing in Pearl Harbor. Any Jesus among them? None.") He claimed there was no mistreatment of African-Americans in pre-civil rights Louisiana. ("They were singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, 'I tell you what: These 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.") He also said homosexuality led to or promoted or was morally equivalent to bestiality. If the channel are choosing to make a show about the Robertson family, the idea of banning their patriarch for speaking his mind is an absurdity to me, and to many people. Yet, to rose-tint what Mr Robertson said to make a wider ideological point as some of the articles on the Internet have done is as misleading as ABC's confused and confusing "ban" of one of their own television personalities. As someone who went to the British equivalent of the Ivys and was both proud, grateful and lucky to do so, it is beyond disheartening to find serious and esteemed newsletters pandering to the idea that those who studied at excellent universities are automatically out of touch with the realities of human sentiment and public opinion. As if their education had somehow disqualified them with their "A/A+" grades from having a worthwhile opinion.

elena maria vidal said...

Thank you for writing, Gareth! I have missed you! Personally, I think the whole thing was a publicity stunt. Phil Robertson makes no secret of the fact that he is "white trash." The show depicts what self-described white trash people are like. What Phil thinks, that is what "white trash" people think. I grew up among them, so I know. If A&E does not like self-described white trash, then they should never have made a show about them. What Phil said was coarse, but that is what he is, a coarse fellow. The show is popular in the USA because we are basically a country of rednecks, a country built by rednecks and slaves. Phil was saying what thousands of Americans think, like it or not. GLAAD is not going to change their minds and the protest of the show only made it more popular.

I do not watch the show. I prefer Downton Abbey. Neither do I watch the Kardahians, who in my opinion are the ultimate white trash because of their vulgar display of wealth. For that matter, I think reality shows are just plain vulgar.