Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Duck, Duck, Duck Dynasty: The Culture War

I wasn’t going to write about Duck Dynasty, Duck Commander, whatever. I have never seen the show nor intend to do so. I disagree vehemently with Phil Robertson’s views on gays. I support gay marriage as long as it is done by the legislature or referendum, but not through judicial legislation. Let the A & E/Duck Dynastic play out as it will. A & E has a right to cancel the show or suspend a star, or it doesn’t. It all depends on the contract to which we are not privy. Undoubtedly A & E and the Robertson Clan are consulting with their lawyers. Phil Robertson has a constitutional right of free speech and freedom of religion, but that does not apply in the private marketplace. People are free to watch the show or not. If they dislike it, then they can stop watching the show and purchasing the merchandise. They can stop watching A & E’s most popular, and presumably profitable, show if they wish. The market could determine the outcome. The outcome is simple. A & E needs the Robertsons more than they need A & E. Would it were that simple. In the few days since A & E “suspended indefinitely” Phil Robertson, Cracker Barrel Family Restaurants proved it can out stupid A & E. The restaurant chain, mostly in Red America, dumped all of its sizable Duck Commander merchandise in protest of the Robertson statement. Cracker Barrel forgot its market. It rescinded the act two days later in response to a flood of complaints by its customers: “Our intent was to avoid offending, but that is what we have done.” Cracker Barrel is still trying to redeem itself after a series of disclosures and lawsuits in the 1990’s revealing its homophobic and racist attitudes to employees and customers. It has been seeking religion ever since. Dan Cathy, President and CEO of Chick-fil-A made clear his religious opposition to gay marriage and financial support for traditional marriage. A backlash quickly ensued, but was then followed by a backlash against the backlash on August 1, 2012. Chick-fil-A supporters mobbed the restaurants, driving up daily sales by an estimated 29%. The Food Network, retailers and her publisher were quick to dump Paula Deen after revelation in a deposition that she had used the “N” word. Retailers, such as Cabela’s, Target, and Walmart are sticking by the Robertsons. They sell. Duck Commander sales at Walmart have risen. Paula Deen’s popularity was dropping precipitously prior to the disclosure. Charlie Sheen, the virtuous Charlie Sheen, the Charlie Sheen known to never duck a controversy, threatened Robertson: “You are now in the crosshairs of a MacSheen style media meltdown.” Sarah Palin came to the defense of Phil Robertson, as did Governor Jindal and Lt. Governor Dardanne of Louisiana. The Lieutenant Governor offered to help the Robertsons find a new network if necessary. They understand the economic value and tourism to Louisiana of the Duck Dynasty success. I have been in Monroe and West Monroe, Louisiana. They can use the tourist dollars flowing into West Monroe. The biggest claim to fame before the Robertsons is a plaque on the wall of the Monroe Airport signifying that Monroe was the birthplace of Delta Airlines. The hypocrisy of A & E exceeds the usual level in Hollywood. A & E has long known of the religious views of the Robertson Clan and that Phil Robertson was quick t express them in public. They were blinded by the green Duck Dynasty brought into the corporate coffers. They had a PR person with Phil Robertson during the GQ interview to prevent any inflammatory statement. Yet, the PR person ducked when Robertson and the interviewer left on bikes. That’s when the offensive statements were made. A & E is so outraged that its release stated “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s statements in GQ.” Yes, A & E is so outraged that it is running, as I write, a Duck Dynasty Marathon, which I am not watching. A & E is so outraged that it banned Phil Robertson indefinitely, but the first 9 of next season’s 10 episodes have been filmed. The only one left to film is the last one. A & E, if it were truly indignant, would have tanked the series. It hasn’t. It needs the money. The rest of the Robertson Clan have threatened to quit the series if Phil is not part of it. A & E is muttering contractual rights, but dares not litigate the issue. The Robertsons have the leverage. All this is interesting, but digresses from my major thesis. The Duck Dynasty is another example of our on-going culture wars. The elites view the Robertsons, Cathys and Paula Deens as unsophisticated rednecks, rubes, hayseeds, hicks, boobs, Bubbas and bigots. Born again Christians, evangelicals, and fundamentalists are viewed with disdain by the arrogant elite on both coasts, who look down upon Flyover Country. They fail to recognize the decline of the liberal Mainline Protestant Churches and the rise of the Evangelical and Fundamentalist Churches. Phil Robertson believes in a literal translation of the New Testament. The cultural elites view the Bible as they do the Constitution, as a malleable instrument to be interpreted as they wish to promote their visions of social justice. The word of Man trumps the Word of the Lord. Justice Ginsburg publicly questioned the United States Constitution and asked Egypt to look elsewhere for a model. President Obama has expressed his disdain for the Constitution and has certainly been ignoring it. They view the values on which this country was founded as fundamentally flawed. Any glint of religion must be stripped out of our values pursuant to their concept of the separation of Church and State. The elites have their Ivy degrees compared to the uneducated or public university grads of red America, or so they believe.

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