You, my fellow godless, sarcastic, coastal elites, may recently have heard something about a reality TV show called Duck Dynasty. Specifically, one of its main cast members said some homophobic and racist shit that earned him an indefinite suspension from the show. The controversy, of course, has generated stupid reactions the usual idiots. But let's go back a step, because you're probably thinking to yourself, "What the fuck is a Duck Dynasty?" Let me explain.
What the fuck is Duck Dynasty?
Duck Dynasty is a semi-scripted reality show that follows the exploits of the Robertson family, who made a fortune selling a realistic-sounding duck call called the Duck Commander, as they do various wacky things—shooting animals, cooking unusual foods, bickering, etc.—around Monroe, Louisiana. All of the show's men have long beards, wear camouflage, and are, based on the 90 seconds of the show I watched this morning, generally likable.
Is it popular?
Yes, absurdly so. It's the most watched cable reality series of all time. Since it debuted in March 2012, the A&E show's popularity has skyrocketed from 1.8 million of the Season 1 premiere to a staggering 11.7 million for the fourth season's premiere this past March. For some perspective, 10.3 million people watched Breaking Bad's much-hyped series finale in September. Four books based on the series have reached the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list, and the cast earns an estimated $200,000 per episode plus small fortunes from merchandise and speaking fees.
Wow. I live in a cultural bubble that's totally removed from a huge swath of Americans, huh?
So what started this controversy? One of them said something homophobic to a writer from GQ?
More or less. For January's issue of GQ, Deadspin's Drew Magary profiled the family, focusing on Phil Robertson, the family's patriarch and the founder of Duck Commander. Unsurprisingly, Robertson—who has repeatedly identified himself, on the show and elsewhere, as a born-again Christian—has some controversial and predictable views of homosexuality: Mainly, that it's a sin akin to bestiality and alcoholism.
"Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men"
"We just love 'em, give 'em the good news about Jesus—whether they're homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort 'em out later, you see what I'm saying"
But didn't I hear something about "man ass"?
Ha. Well, Robertson phrased one of his several rants on the subject in an especially memorable way. Here's the quote in full:
"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: There's 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 just not logical."
That inspired reactions like this:
Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson Goes on Homophobic Rant ... Man Ass Can't Compare to Vagina http://t.co/ljvz7Yqwji
— TMZ (@TMZ) December 18, 2013
Which probably didn't help matters.
Ah. Did Robertson say anything else offensive?
Yes! He also said some racist things, which, to me, were worse, or at least more insidious, than his homophobic remarks—at least those, ostensibly, are backed-up by the man's faith.
"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."
"If I'm lost at three o'clock in a major metropolitan area...I ask myself: Where would I rather be trying to walk with my wife and children? One of the guys who's running for president is out of Chicago, Illinois, and the other one is from Salt Lake City, Utah. [Editor's note: Romney is from Boston, not Salt Lake City.] Where would I rather be turned around at three o'clock in the morning? I opted for Salt Lake City. I think it would be safer."
But people mostly seem upset about his anti-gay remarks.
What happened next? A&E probably wasn't thrilled.
No, they were not. They quickly condemned Robertson's statements and suspended him indefinitely from the show.
"We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson's comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty," the network said in a statement Wednesday. "His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely."
But wait: Isn't this the same network that's made millions of dollars off the personality and "personal beliefs" of a man and family that, from day one, have identified themselves as members of a faith that openly considers gays as sinners?
Yes, the very same network.
Hmm. So, Robertson must have expected a reaction like that, right?
Probably. In the GQ article, Robertson said he knew Duck Dynasty's popularity would likely be short lived—for another few years or so, he guessed—and he expressed some resentment towards A&E for editing some of his more pro-Christian remarks from the show.
So that's the end of it! This controversy will now die down quietly...
Ha ha ha. No. The audacity of a for-profit network suspending a someone for making offensive, possibly financially-detrimental statements was too much for certain cretins of the Right, like Sarah Palin.
Free speech is endangered species; those "intolerants" hatin' & taking on Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing personal opinion take on us all
— Sarah Palin (@SarahPalinUSA) December 19, 2013
Compare that to her reaction to news that former MSNBC host Martin Bashir, who suggested that someone shit in Palin's mouth, had been fired: "It was refreshing to see though, that many in the media did come out and say, 'Look our standards have got to be higher than this'. Those with that platform, with a microphone, a camera in their face, they have to have some more responsibility taken."
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal also weighed in: "I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment. It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended."
It's almost like Jindal and Palin don't understand the basic principles of the First Amendment!
Shit. We'll be hearing about this stupid Duck Dynasty thing non-stop for the next few weeks, won't we?
[Image via AP]