From Quack to Frenzy: how wild swings on the pendulum are distorting the arguments over Phil Robertson
Concerning Duck Dynasty, according to Drew Magary, contributor over at GQ and the guy who penned the now infamous interview with patriarch Phil Robertson, : “The Robertsons are immensely likable. They’re funny. They look cool. They’re ‘smarter than they look,’ says sportswriter Mark Schlabach, who co-writes the family’s books. And they are remarkably honest both with one another and with the viewing audience: Phil’s old hell-raising, Si’s traumatic stint in Vietnam, the intervention that the family staged for Jep when he was boozing and doing drugs in college — all of it is out in the open. The more they reveal, the more people feel connected to them.” And all this really confirms that people really do appreciate frank honesty. However, this is not where the interview ends.
If columnist Drew Magary wanted to shock audiences, he most certainly succeeded, but not in the way he may have intended. In reality, the strangest thing to surface from this recent drama fest is how folks, myself included, reacted beginning Wednesday night and working on through Thursday. It seems as if most people are either on one or the other side of the pendulum ,with hardly anyone holding the more obviously rational middle ground. Did grandpa Phil say some rather off-putting things that made absolutely no sense? Absolutely! Here are a few gems for you’re consideration:
- “All you have to do is look at any society where there is no Jesus. I’ll give you four: Nazis, no Jesus. Look at their record. Uh, Shintos? They started this thing in Pearl Harbor. Any Jesus among them? None. Communists? None. Islamist? Zero. That’s eighty years of ideologies that have popped up where no Jesus was allowed among those four groups. Just look at the records as far as murder goes among those four groups.”
- “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.”
- “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. Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
These quotes from the QC interview are just a few of the highlights that have feed the still raging social media frenzy. From a historical perspective, there are a lot of irregularities in Phil’s rationality; however, from a completely humanist perspective, should we really have expected something different? Duck Dynasty, in a nut shell, according to Drew Magary: “[is] a reality sitcom showcasing the semi-scripted high jinks of Phil, his brother ‘Uncle Si,’ his four sons, Alan, Willie, Jase, and Jep, and the perpetually exasperated but always perfectly accessorized Robertson-family ladies—[which] has become the biggest reality-TV hit in the history of cable television, reportedly earning the family… $200,000-an-episode paycheck. It’s a funny, family-friendly show, with ‘skits that we come up with,’ as Phil describes the writing process. They plunder beehives. They blow up beaver dams. And when the Robertson-family ladies go up to a rooftop in a hydraulic lift, you just know that lift will “accidentally” get stuck and strand them.”
And there we have it folks. Duck Dynasty in the end is still just another reality sitcom…and Phil, despite his very seemingly humble and down-to-earth backwoods, swampland way of life, is still just another reality television personality that just so happens to be less horrible or grotesque as Honey-Boo-Boo, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, or any of the Kardashians. Instead of obese pageant babies, dumb as a box of rocks Jersey folk, or mile-high cleavage, we get long wiry bearded rich poor white stereotypes. We love and laugh at their high jinks because its pretty much what we’d expect how someone from Georgia or Louisiana after winning the lottery would act, complete with “five best-selling books, devotionals somewhere in there, along with Duck Dynasty themed birthday cards, bobblehead dolls, camo apparel (pink camo for the ladies), Cajun-spice seasoning, car fresheners, iPhone games and presumably some sort of camouflage home-pregnancy test.”
See where i’m getting at? No matter how likable Phil is, i’m afraid he’s no more a prophet than Kanye West is. But, a lot of us can still connect with Phil because of his charming transparency and simple good-ole-boy country way of seeing and understanding the world around him, despite that it actually makes zero sense, because lets face it, Hitler used parts of Christian ideology (among other things) to form Nazi ideology, the Jim Crow era is not an era normal people feel nostalgic about, Christianity did exist in Japan during WWII and a lack of Jesus wasn’t exactly what prompted the attack on Pearl Harbor, communism is a political ideology, which is interchangeable with all or any religious belief, and as far as murder goes, well…Christianity has its own timeshare in that blame game…because at bottom level, if we can ignore his ramblings, I believe he’s simply calling attention to the notion that “if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off and everything will turn around.”
So what’s really the problem here? Well, now we got folks like Sarah Palin and Wilson Cruz lobbing mortal rounds at each of their respective camps while real people (us) are taking sides without really reading the entirety of the interview. Arguments are being hashed out that in themselves make as much sense as taking a guy who’s loaded but still eats squirrels seriously. For crying out loud, this isn’t a freedom of speech issue, this is a consequence issue. “And,” to quote another blogger on the topic, “if the only free speech that you support is speech that you agree with, that doesn’t make you a ‘patriot.’ It makes you a hypocrite. And that’s something completely different.” And on same note: let me stress that “Phil was not suspended for his religious beliefs. He was suspended because what he said was completely offensive.” But again, being a very avid supporter of free speech, especially in media, Phil simply just stated his beliefs, not Christian beliefs per-say (let’s face it, even the devil knew how to twist scripture to fit his agenda). The comments he made is what upset execs over at A & E and what eventually got him booted from the show. And after seeing the fire storm that shall forever be known Duck Thursday, Phil attempts to clarify his comments during the interview with GQ, stating:
“I myself am a product of the 60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior. My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together. However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”
I do not believe this good-ole country feller really hates anyone and, just how Seth Rogen stated on his Twitter feed, “It’s strange that A&E hired a guy for being a backwoods redneck and then were surprised when he started talking like a backwoods redneck.” However, “there is also nothing surprising or noteworthy about a company suspending an employee because of their personal behavior.” Like it or not, Phil and the duck family are licensed products of A&E, and Phil when being interviewed, not because he in his own right is popular, but because his character on Duck Dynasty is popular, the fallout of the things he said will and did blow back on A&E because Phil is, again lets face it, a character on one of their shows. See what I mean?
So, in summation, lets avoid the inevitable “us” verses “them” arguments by remembering the following things:
Dearest Liberals, please take a step back and look at the guy who has got you all in a frenzy. The guy was simply stating his beliefs, not the entire Christian world. And, to his benefit, Phil did clarify, even though he was a little bit disrespectful by over generalizing an entire group of people and adding a dangerous revisionist spin on history, that his intention was not to do any harm, but rather to express his love for humanity by stating how we’d “be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”
Dearest Conservatives, please take a step back and look at the guy who has got you all worked up in a frenzy. This is a simply man stating his beliefs, and while he does use scripture that doesn’t make him a prophet nor does it make him a martyr. This man also works for a company who also has a set of standards, shouldn’t we respect those (A&E’s) beliefs just as much as we respect Phil’s? PS: lets not pigeon hole any group or people, including Christianity. Not ever Christian agrees with Phil’s comments, so… ipso facto, this isn’t a religious persecution issue insomuch as hating on Westboro isn’t a religious persecution issue.