Everyone seems to be upset over the fact that A&E indefinitely suspended Duck Dynasty kingpin Phil Robertson from his own show this past week following some racially insensitive (to put it mildly) and homophobic remarks in an interview with GQ’s Drew Magary. Literally every post I’ve seen on Facebook for the last day or two about this makes Phil out to be some kind of hero for sharing his antiquated, bigoted, and ignorant opinions about the plight of blacks in the Jim Crow South and the homosexual community. Some of these posters have also demonized A&E, calling the network anti-Christian and anti-free speech.
The Robertson family is known for their conservative ideas and Christian faith, and at the end of the day, is anyone really surprised that those kinds of comments came out of Phil’s mouth? Conservatives have made hating gays and other minority groups an art form, so the homophobia and “soft racism” seem par for the course. And not that I’m condoning what was said (in fact, I vehemently disagree with his sentiments on both counts), but the decision that came down from A&E seemed a bit harsh. I get that the network’s executives can control what is or isn’t on their network, but a person should have the right to express whatever ignorant, backwards thinking they want so long as they aren’t actually hurting anyone. Hurt feelings doesn’t count and it’s not like he was inciting violence against anyone. I think it was a knee-jerk reaction designed to curtail any backlash the network might have received even though Phil would have taken the brunt of the criticism, as he is now. I think the decision to suspend Phil is going to backfire and I also think that they’ll either have to bring him back on board or watch the family’s antics on another network.
However, to bicker and argue about these points is to ignore the bigger question: why is Duck Dynasty such a popular show in the first place? Why do we watch any of these so-called reality shows? Exactly whose reality are we watching? Yours? Mine?
We’re not even watching the reality of the people on these shows. Most of what you see on Duck Dynasty and elsewhere is staged, scripted, and acted out all for the benefit of the camera and an unsuspecting public. But, even if it weren’t mostly fake, why do we as a society care so much about what happens behind someone else’s door anyway? The thing to remember about people, even rich and famous people, is that they go through the same bullshit as everyone else. No one is immune to life’s perils. Their lives suck as much as your does, I assure you. Just the thought that TV producers are willing to exploit that fact while others watch is insane to me.
In that spirit, help me get shows like Duck Dynasty off the air by simply not watching them. Television programming is run on a simple supply/demand scheme: stop demanding useless shows like Duck Dynasty, stop seeing them on TV.
Wouldn’t it be great if the History Channel actually played historical documentaries and In Search Of reruns with Spock instead of American Pickers and Pawn Stars? Wouldn’t it be great if MTV actually played music videos and the Discovery Channel featured shows about science?