… or, haven’t I been to this rodeo before? Why, yes I have, and not all that long ago, either. First I called to mind was poor artless Paula Deen, celebrity cook-book author, metaphorically burned at stake in the marketplace of public opinion. But the Great Duck Dynasty Imbroglio of 2013 reminds me very much more of the Great Chick-Fil-A Ruckus of 2012, wherein some fairly mild published remarks by the CEO of the company sent the usual right-thinking suspects into a frenzy of shrieking like demented howler monkeys. Boycott, shun, divest and/or fire was the general ukase – for they are hateful hating bigots who shouldn’t be tolerated by truly tolerant people … and then the funniest thing happened. People went out and deliberately bought lunch, dinner and breakfast at their local Chick-fil-A outlet, to the utter chagrin of the usual right-thinking suspects. Chick-Fil-A nationwide had the best darned week they ever had, as far as sales went, and lines of hungry customers stretching for blocks.
I’m probably not alone in playing Cassandra on this new Outrage o’ the Day – but I’m pretty certain it will work out for the Robertsons and the Duck Dynasty about as well as it did for Chick-Fil-A. Full disclosure, I never watched any episodes until last night, when we pulled some of them off Amazon Prime. Reality shows aren’t my thing. I’m more of a top-hat and bustles costume historical series – the kind of thing that the BBC used to do so very well. But I can see how the Duck has enormous appeal. My SWAG (semi-scientific wild-a** guess) is that A&E possibly failed to realize how enormously popular Duck Dynasty is, as regards the rest of flyover country. It has been speculated here and there that the producers actually started off with the intent of poking good fun at a family of bearded, back-country Christian rubes. Instead, the intended butts of cultured derision turned out to be rather witty, quite well-adjusted – and well-educated – and full to the brim with business savvy. And popular, ratings-wise.
Presumably the suits at A&E have been grinding their molars over this, while making a ton of money from the continuing series; poor things, apparently they have forgotten all those old stories about the city slickers taken down a peg or two by the supposedly unsophisticated country bumpkins. And so a frank response in a magazine interview afforded the right-thinking politically-correct element a chance to demonstrate their top-drawer PC credentials and the A&E management an opportunity to cave in, a hasty decision which they might soon regret. GLAAD and the coterie of militant gays may be very loud – and in the rarified atmosphere in the entertainment-industrial complex, louder to the point of drowning out certain realizations. Like being only 1-2% of the population, at best, whereas observant Christians of all denominations, conservatives generally, small business owners, and hunting enthusiasts are a far, far larger segment of the population. Based on my own observation of living in metropolitan flyover country, not too many of them care one way or another about gay marriage, or gay lifestyle, or whatever it is that the militant LBGT-whatever cliques are carrying on about. Just don’t put them on the spot and demand they voice rapturous approval of it all. Tolerance is one thing; approval is something else entirely.
Likely this is yet another attempt to ‘otherize’ religious belief in the public sphere, to remove any faith-based standards and practices from the public marketplace, and to stigmatize those who live by the standards of their faith as bigots, whether they be Mormon, conventional protestants, Catholics or Jews. I wouldn’t be surprised at all – it’s almost a cliché these days in any TV law’n’order show that the criminal is a white Christian businessman. I’m betting that the Robertsons will be chortling all the way to the bank. Like Paula Deen, they may not need more public recognition; they have the fan huge base, the recognition – the savvy and the income to go indy. The Ducks don’t need A&E that much, but I am guessing (again) that A&E desperately needs the Ducks. Likely some kind of climb-down will be forthcoming, very soon.
(Cross-posted at www.ncobrief.com)