Well, I put it off for as long as I could.
I don't watch Duck Dynasty. Before the recent media explosion around the show and its cast, I barely even knew it existed. To me, it was yet another piece-of-shit "reality television" program to ignore, just like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, The Bachelor, and whatever Real Housewives of... crap-fest is currently playing. No, the only "reality" stuff I watch is in the form of competition shows like Survivor, Top Chef, and Project Runway. But even those are more than I can stand sometimes because people are fucking idiots. And watching fucking idiots is not my idea of entertainment.
I'll just set the "reality" aspect of "reality television" aside for a minute, because I think we all know that it's a load of crap. Well, most of us, anyway.
But I digress...
For those living in a cave somewhere, there's an A&E Network "reality television" show called Duck Dynasty which follows The Robertson family and their real-life business "Duck Commander" which makes duck hunting gear (like duck calls). Where the entertainment factor comes in is that the family plays up the Southern redneck stereotype to the nth degree, complete with ZZ Top beards, guns, and camouflage...
Photo from AP/A&E by Zach Dilgard
And people eat it up. It's one of the most popular shows in A&E Network history.
The recent drama being that the patriarch of the family, Phil Robertson, made some pretty heinous comments in an upcoming GQ Magazine interview. Most notably, espousing his Biblical-inspired world-view which equates homosexuality with (among other things) bestiality... and that African Americans were perfectly happy living in America under Jim Crow segregation laws. A&E decided this reflected badly on their brand, so they suspended the guy from his own show on their network indefinitely.
Duck Dynasty fans go nuts. The Christian Right goes nuts. Idiocy ensues.
I'd quote the regular stable of talking heads who are crying out for blood over the suspension as "an attack on free speech," but it's all so damn stupid that I just can't. There was no government intervention. Phil Robertson was not imprisoned for speaking his mind. Phil Robertson is free to keep giving bigoted, homophobic interviews in the guise of "his religion" for as long as he wants. Freedom of speech was in no way hindered... and people who think that way need to understand the difference between "freedom of speech" and "consequences of utilizing your freedom of speech." Much like MSNBC jettisoning Alec Baldwin before them, A&E made a business decision in an effort to disassociate themselves from an employee they feel has broken a clause in their contract by being offensive, and that's it.
But that's not it, because it's more exciting if we can make it into something bigger and get people all riled up over it all...
First of all, A&E is being run by hypocritical assholes. They carefully constructed a cast of characters around the "straight shootin' loose-canon Bible-thumpin' redneck" image that was developed for Phil Robertson... then essentially fired him for being everything they wanted him to be... nay, needed him to be...so that Duck Dynasty would be an entertainment success story. I don't care what moral clauses or contracts A&E had the Robertson's sign... they knew exactly who Phil was when they hired him.
Second of all, this is not some kind of "attack on religion" or "effort to criminalize Christianity" or whatever ridiculous "freedom of religion" argument is being drummed up in the headlines. Nobody is being told that they have to abandon their faith. No Bibles are being ripped out of the hands of Christians to be burned. Nobody is being prohibited from attending their church. A&E is simply drawing their (arbitrary) lines as to what moral clauses are being enforced this week (and what they are willing to air on their network), then acting accordingly. Again, I'm not saying this isn't hypocritical... it absolutely is... but it's also not any kind of "attack on religion" any more than prohibiting penises to be shown on your network is an "attack on men." Phil Robertson signed a contract concerning his behavior, then broke it. That contract wasn't with God, it was with A&E, so let's try and remember that.
Thirdly, the fact that society is moving towards tolerance and acceptance of gays and lesbians means that society is going to tolerate intolerance towards gays and lesbians less and less. I'm sorely tempted to just play the "tough shit" card here, because I honestly don't give a fuck about hurting people's feelings when it comes to their bigotry and hatred... but this is America and, much as I may not like it, people are entitled to their homophobic bullshit (whether they attribute it to their religious beliefs or not). So whatever. You can choose to believe that the earth is flat, the moon is made of cheese, the sun revolves around the earth, two consenting adults falling in love is akin to bestiality, and being forced to sit in the back of the bus is a laugh-riot good time. But don't be shocked when people laugh at you or don't want to hear your antiquated views.
And, lastly, people DO realize all this hoopla is over a fictional version of a real family, right? A family of multi-multi-millionaires exploiting a stereotype for money, fame, and ratings? They call it "reality television" but nobody really believes that. Situations are artfully arranged. Dialogue is meticulously scripted. Images are carefully constructed. Entire "stories" are built to keep things interesting. Which brings us to this recent YouTuber rant which puts the whole situation in vivid relief when he says "Enjoy your fake shit, America... you dumbasses deserve to be conned!"
WARNING! This video is profanity-laden and probably not safe for work...
Ultimately, I don't give a shit about the actual issues at play here because I don't watch Duck Dynasty, don't care that some multi-millionaire got fired for saying bigoted crap, and think a company can make whatever stupid, hypocritical decisions they want to when it comes to employee conduct that conflicts with a signed contract. What I DO give a shit about is all the manufactured drama being built up around A&E's decision to shelve Phil Robertson. Because all this "FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS UNDER ATTACK!" and "CHRISTIANITY IS UNDER ATTACK!" bullshit is yet another round of idiotic propaganda that's dividing society and distracting us from the real problems that actually matter.
So somebody let me know when Phil Robertson is detained by the military for saying bigoted nonsense or is imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay for being a Christian... because until then, I've had enough of this idiotic Duck Dynasty drama-fest.
And besides, I'm willing to bet Pigeon Lineage or Grouse House will be coming to A&E any day now...