[Note: I tried to avoid writing about the Duck Dynasty kerfluffle. I really did. You gotta’ believe me! Wiser minds than mine have contemplated the subject and I don’t get invested in TV shows anyway. Also progressives on a witchhunt make my beer go flat.
Alas I couldn’t let it go unremarked. Events like these fit a pattern. Identifying patterns allows us to adapt. In a world that has redefined “tolerance” as hassling a redneck for the sin of devotion none of us is truly safe. The eye of Sauron may someday look your way. It could be an errant turn of phrase, a blog comment, a political onslaught, or nothing at all. Should that time come you’ll have to stand proud (and very alone) or collapse in a pile of apologies and expedient groveling. The Duck Dynasty folks (I suspect) knew this day was coming and are handling it with class. A performance from which we can learn.]
Duck Dynasty is an anomaly. Hollywood views hunting as something between gladiator battles and a snuff film. It views rednecks as oafish clowns. I assume A&E envisioned a chance to laugh at the antics of rubes who are so dumb they eat squirrels instead of withering away on yogurt from Whole Foods. What they got was a live wire!
I was surprised to see a show that didn’t make me regret owning a television. It neither flooded my living room with depravity nor crammed progressive politics up my ass. People who aren’t human trainwrecks and moral black holes is all it takes to rise above. See how easy it is? It’s not Shakespeare but the tiniest glimmer of optimism and honesty is all it took to create a juggernaut.
Usually it doesn’t get this far. The entertainment industry somehow failed to smother it in it’s crib. I assumed sooner or later this oversight would be rectified. Certain parties can’t abide devout, fun loving folks, running around shooting ducks and eating jambalaya. That breaks the rule.
The Robertsons (or whomever writes their scripts) never let an episode wrap up without clearly and carefully breaking the rule. The rule is simple; anyone who’s rural, religious, or conservative must be portrayed along a spectrum from mouth breathing troglodytes to repressed homophobic racist dickheads. Deviation is verboten! The Robertsons surely know the rule as well as the rest of us. Yet they refused to toe the line. They’re portrayed as scrupulous, devout, kind, self reliant, hard working (when they want to be), fun loving, and free spirited.
Joy and goodness attracts its opposite. What hollowness causes such nihilism? I can’t quite get my head around it. I live here. America isn’t populated by lunatics and animals. You don’t need a passport and a Sherpa to experience America as it really is. How weak must one be to project their own fears on a whole nation, Rockies to Appalachians, deserts, plains, farms, factories, friends, and families? What inner damage causes one to look upon abundance and kindness and see only stupidity and menace.
How a nation of 300,000,000 lets a thin film of elites clinging to the coasts portray them en masse as deplorable idiots is mysterious. All I know is that Duck Dynasty broke the rule and made bank doing it! There is a hunger out there. Duck Dynasty and their silly pointless plots met that need.
I knew their days were numbered. “This cannot go on.” I thought. “Better enjoy it while it lasts.” Hollywood is pretty serious about the rule. I assumed the show would be ruined from within. Possibly rewritten to portray the Robertsons as gibbering idiots or extras from Deliverance. Maybe a couple episodes about a heroin overdose? An accidental shooting in a duck blind? An ATV mishap? For whatever reason this didn’t happen.
Instead the inevitable showdown came in an interview. The long awaited (and more or less pre-packaged) attack came when Phil Robertson, a man with deeply held beliefs articulated thoughts which, as far as I can tell, are in keeping with his church’s doctrine. I’m not a religious man but (unlike the media) I’m aware that there’s a book called the New Testament. It’s pretty old I’m told. With words and stuff. I’ve heard many people read it. They might even take it to heart. Mr. Robertson is among them. This does not scare me.
As far as I can Mr. Robinson is trying to live according to his beliefs. Among them that we’re all imperfect but one should strive to avoid sin. It’s not a new idea. Time for a Curmudgeonly Gem of Insight:
“The whole ‘sin ‘aint good’ idea was pretty unremarkable before America lost it’s balls and irrationally decided ‘sin’ was a word akin to ‘Voldemort’, which should never be spoken aloud.”
Mr. Robertson also intoned about brotherly love, forgiveness, etc… Words that were discarded as too nuanced and outmoded for a media anticipating a pissing match.
I read what he said, the actual interview. It’s not particularly crazy and all of his ideas are generations old. You’d have to have live in a bubble to miss exposure to his ideas; which, of course, many people have done. Further he’s not actively interfering with anyone. He’s not tracking my phone, regulating my food, mucking around with my health insurance, auditing my taxes, bitching about my guns, pissed that I don’t attend church, or spending my money. Thus I’m perfectly happy with whatever he says. His method appears to be leading by example. Such an excellent approach! The world would indeed be a better place if more people thought deeply about sin and the avoidance thereof and then acted accordingly. Which was the whole point.
Of course this is America, in 2013. Humility is as lost on some folks as the original definition of tolerance. Professional victims screeched in synthetic pain. Mr. Phil Robertson’s employer, to the surprise of nobody, folded instantly (which I presume they’d been planning all along).
The Robertsons came together (as I presume they’d been planning all along). They show no inclination whatsoever to ditch their patriarch or their religion for another paycheck. Why am I not surprised? We should all be so lucky as to have a loving patriarch and a deeply held religion.
Even as boycotts are organized I suspect the Robertson’s would be happy to go duck hunting with the ghosts of Liberace and Freddy Mercury so long as they didn’t scare the ducks. Which means nothing to folks who actively suggest Phil Robertson should be “re-educated”. (Ouch, now there’s a word phrase with some baggage!)
So professional victims soak in their perceived victimhood (which must feel good or they’d find a different hobby), A&E network has the dilemma of growing a spine or killing a golden goose, and the rest of us are amused. A man suggests another man’s ass isn’t particularly exciting and I’m supposed to be shocked? Possibly water is wet? A Christian suggesting that sin is best avoided? I suppose the Pope wears a pointy hat? The sky is blue, film at eleven!
I’ve long assumed the Robertsons knew this was coming and prepared accordingly. Their plan, I would guess, is to laugh all the way to the bank when their time in the sun has played out; then go fishing.
I base my guess on their marketing. The Robertsons have marketed the living crap out of their show. People who expect to last a long time meter their exposure. The Robertsons are probably as surprised as me they’ve made it this far.
In the meantime click this image to go to Duck Dynasty’s store:
Phil Roberson’s and his beard walked through the land of Woody Allen and Phil Spector. He knew what he was doing, he knew what the response would be, and he smiled while doing it. Anyone who thinks he’s going to fold because of a boycott is mistaken. Instead he’ll sell a bunch of shirts while Hollywood ponders flushing a profitable show. Then, he’ll go duck hunting. That’s how it’s done folks! Live well, be strong, recognize and enjoy the opportunities, and should the professional victims call for your head, stand tall, regret nothing, and let them self immolate.