How are both the Robertsons and A&E winning this controversy? By making lots and lots of money.
Posted on December 19, 2013
I’m a cynic, but this is how I view the Duck Dynasty controversy.
I view it as being all about MONEY. Money, money, money.
Look at the perfect timing of all of this. It’s a week before Christmas. Duck Dynasty merchandise is EVERYWHERE. We already bought three seasons on DVD for the person whose name we drew in my in-laws’ Christmas gift exchange. The aisles at Meijer and Books a Million and Dicks and certainly Cabela’s are filled with Duck Commander and DD t-shirts and books by the show’s stars and anything you could possibly want. My mom’s hospital gift shop even sells red Solo-style cups with Duck Dynasty faces and catchphrases on them.
This week, Phil Robertson’s interview in GQ makes the news, mostly because he says offensive but generally run-of-the-mill homophobic and racist comments. We’re not talking “stone the gays” level offensive, or blatant use of the n-word–just comments that are homophobic and racist enough to upset a certain percentage of the population. And while what he said was definitely problematic, it resonates clearly with a large percentage of his target audience, who feel the same way. To be clear: not all of the Duck Dynasty audience is made up of homophobes and racists! But there are a lot of people in America who are homophobic and racist, and with a show that has that large and dedicated of an audience, you’re going to have some homophobes and racists hanging out in that crowd.
So, after the interview comes out, LGBT people and people of color and allies of both groups get mad. Of course they get mad! The things Robertson said were ugly and mean. Comparing gay people to terrorists and drunks? Saying that Black Americans in the pre-civil rights era weren’t really discriminated against all that much and were doing just fine? Those things are not the “Christian” point of view. They’re narrow-minded and out-dated and offensive. So of course people are angry.
A&E responds quickly. They suspend Robertson and issue a statement that his remarks were out of line.
People begin to try to make this a freedom of speech issue, even though it’s absolutely NOT a freedom of speech issue. (Remember: freedom of speech is the freedom to say whatever you want, NOT the freedom to be immune to any consequences based on people disliking what you say. I may have the right to say whatever I want, but if I start swearing profusely in front of my students or posting naked pictures of myself online, I’ll still probably get fired for violating my employer’s standards.)
Know-it-all super blogger Matt Walsh argues that A&E’s suspension of Robertson is the network committing suicide. After all, now people are going to boycott A&E, right?
But if conservative-leaning, anti-gay audiences boycott A&E, they have to boycott the show itself. And they don’t want to boycott the show. They want to support the show and the Robertsons!
So now, just a week before Christmas, they’re going to buy even more Duck Dynasty DVDs, posters, t-shirts, stocking stuffers, beer mugs, and every other thing that has those bearded faces or the Duck Commander logo on it.
Who is going to make money from this? The Robertsons. And A&E.
The fan base is galvanized. The Robertsons get more speaking engagements. A&E gets the support of the LGBT community for “standing strong,” even though I still don’t know what it means for a star to get suspended from a reality show that isn’t even filming right now. And everybody gets their money.
Merry Christmas, everyone.