I guess entitled white people are angry again. If they ever stopped, that is.
Why? Well, this time it's because a (possibly?) racist and (possibly?) homophobic southern white guy said some possibly racist and homophobic things in an interview and got suspended from A&E as a result.
Phil Robertson, a star of A&E's "Duck Dynasty," has been suspended indefinitely after slamming gays in a magazine interview.
"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."
In an interview in the January issue of GQ, Robertson says homosexuality is a sin and puts it in the same category as bestiality and promiscuity.
"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," he's quoted as saying.
Asked what, in his mind, is sinful, Robertson replied: "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."
He also made comments regarding race and growing up in Louisiana before the civil rights era.
"I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any 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. ... They're 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," GQ quotes Robertson as saying.
"Duck Dynasty" follows a Louisiana bayou family that has "made a fortune on duck calls," as A&E describes it.
Season 5 of is set to premiere January 15. According to A&E, its fourth season premiere in August drew nearly 12 million viewers to become the No. 1 nonfiction series telecast in cable history.
So, um. Don't we have real problems in the world to worry about? No? Okay.
So let's get really ripshit pissed off about this then!
A&E's "Duck Dynasty" is not just the most popular reality show on cable TV. It's a rallying point for middle America, proof that down-home folks from the backcountry can make good and become mega-stars.
And now it's become the latest battleground in America's culture wars.
Phil Robertson, the show's 67-year-old patriarch, was suspended from the series this week after he referred to gay people as "homosexual offenders" in a national magazine interview. His comments to GQ magazine also seemed to question the need for federal entitlement programs.
Once again, TV finds itself in another cultural hot zone. The "Duck Dynasty" situation recalls last summer's uproar over celebrity chef Paula Deen, who lost her Food Network gig and many sponsorship deals after she admitted she had "of course" used a racial epithet in the past.
TLC pulled an episode of "Cake Boss" in 2012 after "Cousin Anthony" mocked a transgender guest. Similar flare-ups damaged the careers of radio host Don Imus, Oscar winner Mel Gibson and actor Isaiah Washington after they were accused of using racially insensitive or homophobic speech.
These cases reflect larger rifts in American life — call it a split between progressives and traditionalist values.
But the particular problem for the TV industry is that it's trying to profit off the same cultural tensions it's exploiting. That inevitably leads to problems such as the current one engulfing "Duck Dynasty."
The reality programming trend in recent years has made stars out of everyone from bakers to pawnbrokers to catfish-wranglers. That these "authentic" people have opinions and values that don't always jibe with those of the media elite in New York and Los Angeles isn't necessarily surprising.
But it means that the executives and PR handlers have had to get very good at backpedaling away from uncomfortable realities. That's most likely what is happening now on "Duck Dynasty."
"A&E has been very careful in editing and presenting this family, being careful not to show any potential controversial views," said Robert J. Thompson, professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse University. "But they can't control what they say outside of the show."
"Channels like A&E program 'regular' people mostly to make curiosities out of them," said Jeffrey McCall, a media studies professor at DePauw University. "The programmers want to manage every aspect of their 'reality' commodities, but that isn't really possible.
"If A&E wants the Robertsons to make money for the channel by being authentic, then at some point A&E has to accept that reality stars will be real human beings," McCall added. "If A&E didn't like the Robertsons as they are, then why did they give them a weekly platform?"
Hours after Robertson was suspended for his comments, the affair had mushroomed into a highly emotional national debate. A Facebook page demanding Robertson's return had earned more than 600,000 "likes" and the hashtag #StandWithPhil spread across Twitter.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal expressed support for the "Duck Commander" patriarch, as did former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Glenn Beck said he'd be happy to have "Duck Dynasty" on his start-up network the Blaze, while Fox News host Sean Hannity targeted A&E executives for suspending Robertson on an indefinite "hiatus."
The backlash didn't appear to faze liberal pressure groups, however. By midday Thursday, GLAAD was emailing supporters with a fundraising appeal tied to the controversy. "As a community, these are the moments we rise to," the advocacy organization said in the pitch letter. CNN host Piers Morgan denounced Robertson for his "repulsively racist, homophobic bigotry."
What's different about the "Duck Dynasty" case is that Robertson's distinctive world view was part of what A&E was selling all along. He has been vocal before now about his conservative Christianity as well as his marital troubles and love of guns and hunting.
"Duck Dynasty" is a major part of A&E's business plan. The show is the No. 1-rated reality series on cable TV. The Season 4 premiere drew a record 11.8 million total viewers, according to Nielsen, making it the most-watched nonfiction telecast ever on cable TV. That's good news for A&E's bottom line.
A lot of people are making a "freedom of speech is dead" stink about this. Especially in evangelical Christian circles; it's a huge shock! You can't just go on television and denounce homosexuals and engage in revisionism over segregation and slavery and claim that racism is dead without consequences!
Why won't somebody think of the poor (middle-class) white Christians?
OK, sarcasm aside, here's an article from a Christian perspective
that I can actually agree with.
TL;DR: Freedom doesn't mean you don't have to deal with consequences of speaking your mind, one rich reality TV star is pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of things (500 people were killed in the Sudan two days ago, where were the Christians when this happened?), and finally, to say that a church would accept Robertson into their own congregation without censoring the things that spew from his mouth is flatly ridiculous.
Remember when we used to have a media environment where if somebody said things like Robertson said, and they were punished for it, that they would be embarrassed
? Maybe not honestly, but they would at least pretend
So what's going on here? Is the network wrong to profit from the things this man says but then turn around and shut him down when he says a couple of specific things they don't like? Is that censorship? Or is it better that the network exercise its own freedom of speech by saying they won't be responsible for putting this man on the air, because he doesn't represent them?
In my opinion, the network has every right to decide what it will and will not air, and so the backlash basically boils down to a bunch of people who want their (regressive) social views aired on a popular TV show.
Something deeper is going on here than Duck Dynasty, though. There are more than 600,000 people (likely a lot
more) who don't see anything wrong with what this man said, and feel that his suspension was completely undeserved.
So while we can simply scratch the surface level in this thread and talk about the DD controversy, I would also like to talk about censorship.
Censorship gets kind of a bad rap. Probably deservedly so, because historically it has been used by governments to silence dissenting information which would have been harmful to their control over the populace. However, I feel like it can be used by those who do not wield ultimate power in ways which have a net good.
First of all, we need to decide whether or not Robertson was actually censored. I believe that he was. I also believe it was deserved, and that it has a net benefit to society that he was.
Now, Robertson was probably suspended not because the executives at A&E are deeply hurt and offended, but because they see the things he is saying as damaging to their brand and bottom line. They're probably right, but just because they might
be doing this for the wrong reasons, I still think it's the right thing to do. Essentially it draws a line and says, "This is what you can no longer get away with saying to millions of people." Over the last decade or so I've seen reality TV consistently lowering the bar and putting more and more shamefully ignorant people in living rooms across the nation. That one channel
finally took a stand is admirable, to me.
Besides, I don't feel too bad for Robertson. He is already swimming in buckets of money. Gay rights are this generation's galvanizing social movement. I think that 50 years from now, he'll be remembered (if he is
) as an ignorant rich white dude who felt the need to keep other people from doing things that didn't ultimately affect him or his mountain of cash in any way. So having such a man on television possibly saying more of the things which keep society from pressing forward and, well... progressing
is a big price to pay just so more ignorant people can have their white trash TV.
What do you think? Is this censorship? If it is, is it warranted? Were the things he said bad enough to justify this kind of response?
The horse is the white of the eyes, and dark within.