As if the drama around Phil Robertson and Duck Dynasty hasn’t been crazy enough, Daystar ramped it up by offering the program a prime time slot on their channel. I suppose an old white southern guy who says offensive things about gays, blacks and others is a prime time Christian message. I’m sure that the fact that the Duck Dynasty franchise is worth millions has nothing to do with it! In 2010, Daystar was rocked with its own scandal surrounding adultery and alleged extortion, so good old Phil may feel right at home! Daystar has a very niche audience of extreme conservative Christians. Will their mainstream audience follow if they make such a move?
I’ve already made my prediction: after the new year begins, A&E will announce that they have reached an agreement with Phil and remove the suspension, and everything will go back to the normal money raking venture which is Duck Dynasty. Conservatives will call Phil a hero and claim A&E caved, which they probably will do. The Far Right crazies will celebrate a victory for the 1st Amendment, even though there was no 1st Amendment connection to this issue. But hate speech against minorities, especially gay, lesbian, bi, and trans persons will rise. In the end, the mighty dollar will reign supreme, despite that pesky scripture about a camel, a needle and a rich man.
To be honest, the A&E CEO, Nancy Dubuc maybe acted in haste without considering the ramifications of her efforts. I’m enough of a cynic to wonder if she did it on purpose to ramp up loyalty for the show, although I don’t know her, and really have no reason to doubt her side of the story. The real bottom line may be that any business entity must evaluate how they anticipate making money, and how far are they willing to go for it. Dubuc says she made the suspension out if concern for her LGBT employees, especially those working on the show. But isn’t putting a show like Duck Dynasty on air a little like playing with a loaded gun? Was anyone really surprised when the gun goes off and someone gets hurt? A&E created the character that is Phil Robertson. Or, at the very least created the environment that allowed him to get the notoriety he has. A&E manufactured this mess, either inadvertently or intentionally and the responsibility for the damage done to the LGBT community rests solely on the shoulders of the company or the CEO herself. With any thought she had for her queer employees, she didn’t think about the LGBT community as a whole.
Most sad to me is that this mess is being blamed on the gays, when nothing could be further from the truth. Clearly, truth is not an important factor here. I accurately captured the timeline for this fiasco here, although I missed element. After this thing blew up into a big media story, GLAAD got involved calling for Robertson to meet with some gay people. But to listen to the Far Right, gay outrage started this whole thing. This isn’t our fault, but status quo for conservatives. Which places the Duck Dynasty fiasco in its true place as a symbol of the culture wars. We are directly in the midst of the wave of change hitting the beach, and the Far Right believes that if they try hard enough they can make the wave disappear. But they can’t. At the same time, progressives want to believe that the battle is won for equality, and it isn’t (yet). The huge number of folks who have stood up to support Robertson demonstrates that.
Max Gordon offers an interesting take on the subject. As a black, gay man, his perspective Robertson is worth reading, although it think he has a bunch of it wrong. I don’t think Robertson did this to increase his notoriety. I think he is more similar to the cake baker who honestly believed he had a right to discriminate and refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, or the British B&B owners who believed they had a right not to rent to a gay couple. The audacity of Christians to believe they are above the law speaks volumes and demonstrates the real meaning of privilege. For me, Religion itself isn’t the enemy, but some clueless practitioners who honestly don’t think Civil Law is applicable to them. Or the mindless Christians who have this knee-jerk response but who fail to really ask what if anything this has to do with them, or Faith for that matter.