Duck & Cover: A&E’s Response To the “Duck Dynasty” Homophobia Scandal Is Such B.S.

A&E has some serious nerve putting Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson on “indefinite suspension” following a series of unbelievably homophobic comments he made during a newly published GQ interview. I don’t say this because I think what Robertson said was acceptable or because I believe the punishment is somehow disproportional to the crime here — I say it because it’s laughably disingenuous for A&E network executives to suddenly balk and express shock and righteous indignation that this cantankerous Bible-thumping redneck they pay to act like a cantankerous Bible-thumping redneck on a reality TV show really is a cantankerous Bible-thumping redneck.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the internet today, here’s the gist: Given that he’s one of the “colorful” stars of the most popular reality show on cable at the moment, Phil Robertson was interviewed for a profile in the new GQ. During that interview, he unleashed this little gem about gay people:

“It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

And of course from there, he went right on to drop some Biblical knowledge on everyone:

“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.”

As soon as this went public you could’ve counted down the seconds before GLAAD fired off an angry public response condemning Robertson’s comments as intolerant and ignorant bordering on paleolithic. That was to be expected; it’s what GLAAD does. But what happened next should piss everybody off. A&E didn’t just recoil, it scrambled to release the following Very Outraged statement on Phil Robertson and his views on gay people:

“We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”

Now make no mistake: Phil Robertson shouldn’t be on television. But here’s why everyone should be pissed: he very likely never should’ve been on television, and for A&E to pretend that it had no idea the nitro glycerine it was carrying in its schedule is an unbelievable pile of horseshit. The network and the production company behind Duck Dynasty sought out this family from backwater Louisiana specifically because its members represented exactly the kind of subculture A&E knew it could cynically target a show toward. They played up the rich redneck point-of-view, making the Robertsons look like a bunch of good-natured, fun-loving, faith-abiding country folk who happen to have made a lot of money doing something unusual to many but certainly not unusual to much of the target audience. (That audience would love it on principle; the rest would eat up the freakshow kitsch as they always do.)

The problem is that Phil Robertson isn’t playing up a damn thing. He really is a 67-year-old conservative Christian redneck who was almost certain, at some point, to make a comment like the one he did to GQ. The fact that a bunch of assholes at a production company and television network in Los Angeles believed that they could somehow put a muzzle on this guy and keep the unappetizing reality of his belief system in check is the height of arrogance and stupidity. The production company in particular has worked closely with Robertson for four seasons; it always knew what he was truly all about and because of this there’s little doubt the network knew as well. It just chose to overlook a little provincial ugliness because the money was rolling in.

Robertson’s done interviews with Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network. He’s appeared at world-class huckster Rick Warren’s Saddleback megachurch to do his trademark guns-and-camo shtick and proclaim that America is a Christian nation. He’s claimed that Jesus personally saved his marriage. The network has had previous run-ins with him over his religious beliefs. The point is, this guy telegraphed his public comments on gay people from a mile away.

I’m certainly not saying that Phil Robertson isn’t entitled to his opinion. He can think and say whatever the hell he wants, no matter how awful, and in most situations it shouldn’t even immediately cost him his job. But the hypocrisy of A&E righteously declaring that it won’t tolerate the kinds of views Robertson expressed when it essentially paid to enable those views for the past three years is jaw-dropping. He may have been a character to the audience, but he was always a flesh-and-blood person to the people behind the scenes. They knew the real reality, not the reality show they shot and edited and promoted until it was a safe and benign caricature of the truth.

They went looking for somebody like Phil Robertson to make into a hit television show — and Phil Robertson is exactly what they got.

Adding: Right on time, professional troll Sarah Palin is weighing in by posting a picture of herself on Facebook with the Duck Dynasty crew alongside some of her usual authentic frontier gibberish. Say hello to the next Chick-fil-A, everyone. A bunch of asshole duck hunters get to become the new cudgel in our never-ending culture war. God bless America. Oh, and if you want to read the completely predictable F5 tornado of racist and homophobic anger over Phil Robertson’s suspension, put on your helmet and jump into the comment section here.

Adding Further: A television executive producer friend of mine just brought up a great point that’s worth relaying. When they shoot a reality show, they typically shoot hours and hours of video and they do it candidly and construct the show out of that material. I know this because I’ve worked on several reality shows and most crews overshoot like hell. What’s interesting about this is the insight it gives the production company, network people, writers and editors — basically anyone who handles the bulk post-shoot — into what’s really going on behind the scenes. So many people have watched and listened to Phil Robertson during those moments when he had no idea anyone was paying attention to him that there’s no way the network didn’t know his true thoughts and feelings. He could barely keep them to himself most of the time anyway; someone almost certainly had to work around his commentary that wouldn’t be appropriate for air. As my friend said, A&E has likely been dreading this moment for years. The moment when the jig was finally up.

Still Further: The Superficial’s takedown of those holding up Robertson as some kind of Christian martyr to the cause of freedom of speech is definitely worth reading this morning.

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  • Mark Strange Love

    who cares what this idiot redneck, pinheaded, homophobe says anyway? i guess the idiot redneck, pinheaded homophobes who watch crap like this.

  • Les Paul Marshall

    They knew what he was about they warned him against stating his views in HIS contract, He violated them, they fired him. Free enterprise.

    • timothy c sullivan

      yes indeed but on the other to fired him because of his race Creed or religious belief or his sex is a crime……….

  • edan

    Phil and the family retarded redneck win. A&E and their ratings win. Sponsors will flock to pay for 30 seconds airtime. Sarah Palin, the conservative ambulance chaser wins. Walmart who has a huge deal with, and shelves stocked with Duck Dynasty merchandise. GQ who got the scoop and in a timely fashion published it.
    The only losers. The LGBT community that should have kept their outrage to a minimum. And the Civil Rights warriors who did keep their outrage to a minimum. Them Niggras was happy singing in the fields, living in their clapboard shotgun shacks. It was Scandinavians who sang the Blues.

  • RisonFall

    Most of you people commenting are more ridiculous and intolerant than Mr. Robertson. I will never give this site a hit again.

  • Matt

    Honey-Boo Boo is somehow more appropriate for A&E ‘s bland mentalities. OH well, the Robertson’s need A&E’s Approval as much as they need A&E’s $$$ they will be just fine without both.

  • Norinos

    Who is REALLY homophobic here? Phil Robertson, or the A&E executive’s who ran from the LGBT 1.75% market share in a cowardly fashion after Phil gave his ASKED for opinion?

  • D_C_Wilson

    The real scandal is how channels like A&E, TLC, and the History Channel, which once were known for airing quality programing that had some educational value, have degenerated into a the current mess of crap reality TV and bogus shows that are about as historically accurate as episodes of McHale’s Navy.

    • Mark Strange Love

      you illustrated this very well d.c. all of the discovery network channels have thrown out anything remotely interesting and replaced their older programming with drivel. one reason i cancelled cable a long time ago. now i have another 1500 in the bank not having to pay for crap like this.

  • trgahan

    I agree with Superficial.

    This is a total con job to dip further into the wallets of frothy right wing of America. The shelves have been filled with Duck Dynasty merchandize all Christmas season. They needed something that would clear those selves at full price within the next week before it all heads to discount distributors. So here we go…..we’re such predicable idiots.

    I even bet Palin was contacted about her cut if she screeched outrage for them.

  • ottolike

    A cartoon series depicting a family of animated shellacked turds wearing helicopter beanies would find an audience on cable TV.

  • Gunnut2600

    Why is the jig up on this show? I would assume the audience is broken up into groups that would agree with idiot and those that watch it for the Jerry Springer style crap that it is. Just like it should not be a revelation to A and E, why would anyone on the planet be shock? if anything, this will just increase ratings.

  • BigShinyNosehair

    Newsflash:

    CBS just announced that 60 Minutes will air an exclusive interview with an anonymous security guard who WAS ACTUALLY THERE. . . . Seems President Obama knew about this homophobic attack and refused to act.

  • DrLearnALot

    Oh no! I’m sure they had no idea that he was exactly what they hired him to be! I’m sure there were no homophobic (and he made some really clueless racial comments too) clips left on the edit room floor!

    But since he’s such a biblical guy, I wonder if he knows that Jesus didn’t say anything about gays, but he did say that whole thing about the rich man and the camel and the eye of the needle. How CONVENIENTLY they forget.

    • Mark Strange Love

      ever thought about this? jesus was in his thirties, single and hung out with a bunch of men who smelled like fish.

  • kfreed

    Being cable-less rubes, we thought the show was a comedy so hubby went out and bought a “Duck Dynasty” DVD. We didn’t make it past the second episode. What these guys are about was pretty evident after the first episode, actually. I tossed it into the “special” recycle bin and sent it off to be chopped up into tiny bits. Maybe someone somewhere will make something useful out of it.

    • 624LC .

      You are better than I was. 15 minutes in and I was Audi. I just couldn’t do it.

  • Lady Willpower

    I’m genuinely stunned. Just by looking at the guy you’d think he was one of our greatest thinkers.

    • Christopher Foxx

      Judging him based on, what, his beard? Why not on his skin color?

      I get judging him for what he said. But for how he looks?

      http://www.biography.com/imported/images/Biography/Images/Profiles/W/Walt-Whitman-9530126-1-402.jpg http://www.badhaven.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/ALAN_MOORE.jpg

      • Finch

        Sure, if you happen to sport long hair and a beard you’re obviously a bigoted idiot (just like me…).

      • Lady Willpower

        NM

      • Steven Skelton

        Well Done Christopher.

      • Lady Willpower

        You’re comparing grooming habits with skin color. Have fun with that.
        Hey, at least Skelton’s in your corner.

        • Christopher Foxx

          Hey, at least Skelton’s in your corner

          So we’re moving from guilt by grooming to guilt by association now?

          Stick with the “NM”.

          • Lady Willpower

            You might as well just have conversations with yourself. It’s clearly the only voice you hear.

          • Christopher Foxx

            Well, you’re clearly not listening. But, sure, I’ll take the blame me for the fingers you put in your ears..

      • dbtheonly

        Okay Christopher,

        Who are those guys? The bottom one looks like Gandalf’s stuntman.

        • Christopher Foxx

          Hovering over the pictures (or clicking on them) should reveal the links. First one is Walt Whitman, famous poet. Second is Alan Moore, prominent author of many of the most notable graphic novels.

          In both cases, intelligent and very accomplished folks who bear a resemblance (of some sort) to the person Lady Willpower deems unintelligent based on his photo.

    • dbtheonly

      Only by those who lisp.

  • ranger11

    How the hell did A&E become such a freak show in the first place. Yeah, I know, I used to watch some kick-ass videos on MTV growing up. After riding my donkey home from school.

  • Sinnach

    Yep. This isn’t something new – but it did wrack up a ton of headlines. Would you be talking about it here if A&E didn’t suspend him? The right certainly isn’t going to be silent over the whole issue: once they’re done fighting their war on Christmas they’ll have time to whine about this guy’s first amendment rights being squashed so badly, keeping it in the headline for another week or two.

    It’s free publicity. While the whole thing is extremely petty I find his comments on race way more offensive and outrageous.

  • Arcnor

    I doubt they were dreading this moment — as astoundingly stupid as TV executives can be, they probably knew something like this was going to happen at some point. They just didn’t care; all they wanted to do was to make money, and they were willing to gamble that Mr. Robertson wouldn’t torpedo his own show by acting like himself in public — or on YouTube — before they’d squeezed a decent amount of profit from it. Now that they’ve earned their thirty silver pieces, they can afford to act shocked, literally. Besides, if they manage to sound “sincere” enough, perhaps people will stick around for one of their other shows. And if not, they reason, well, we got paid, so who cares?

  • CL Nicholson

    Chez – we definitely disagree on religious matters (if this cat says Christ saved his marriage, more power to him). I’m much like the Pope – a person of faith who can accept that people don’t think the same way I do.

    That said, for A&E to pretend that an uneducated, ultra-conservative redneck from the swamps doesn’t talk like, well, uneducated, ultra-conservative redneck from the swamps means that they think the American people are as unbelievably stupid as ‘Duck Dynasty’ itself. Or, they realize that the people who which this dribble really don’t care – they just want to gawk at a bunch of Swamp People with way too much money and far too few brain cells. *** Having this “good ol’ boy” talk he’s about jump the creek with a few gallons hooch to get away from Boss Hogg just add a more authenticity.

    *** (Personally I’ve watched on episode got bored. I’m live in the IE. I can see plenty of middle aged, bigoted unkempt hicks just walking through Ralph’s).