It’s been fun watching the reaction to the whole Duck Dynasty thing.
It started out with his comments from the interview, then moved to his suspension. From there, Cracker Barrel got into the game by pulling Duck Dynasty merchandise that only upset THEIR customer base. After much complaining on the innertubes, Cracker Barrel relented apologized and put the stuff back on sale.
I think that an employer should be allowed to fire anyone for any reason, so I have no issue personally that Phil got the axe. But we don’t live in my world – we live in the real world, where firing someone for their religion is against the law – or at least I think it is. I can’t image that an employer, upon learning that his employee isn’t Christian, could fire him.
Anyway – so I think that Phil’s civil liberties were abused to a degree. And if they weren’t, if there is a legal standing that A&E can rest on – think morals clause or spokesman – I have some trouble wrapping my head around the whole thing. I mean, the whole show is based on the fact that these Robertson people are God Fearing evangelical Christian rednecks. There isn’t one single person alive that would have thought Phil would think that homosexuality wasn’t a sin.
So, yeah, it’s been fun watching it. But here is a take I didn’t expect:
I have to say I’m befuddled by the firing of Phil Robertson, he of the amazing paterfamilias beard on Duck Dynasty (which I mainly see via The Soup). A&E has a reality show that depends on the hoariest stereotypes – and yet features hilariously captivating human beings – located in the deep South. It’s a show riddled with humor and charm and redneck silliness. The point of it, so far as I can tell, is a kind of celebration of a culture where duck hunting is the primary religion, but where fundamentalist Christianity is also completely pervasive. (Too pervasive for the producers, apparently, because they edited out the saying of grace to make it non-denominational and actually edited in fake beeps to make it seem like the bearded clan swore a lot, even though they don’t.)
Now I seriously don’t know what A&E were expecting when the patriarch Phil Robertson was interviewed by GQ. But surely the same set of expectations that one might have of an ostensibly liberal host of a political show would not be extended to someone whose political incorrectness was the whole point of his stardom. He’s a reality show character, for Pete’s sake. Not an A&E spokesman.
Robertson is a character in a reality show. He’s not a spokesman for A&E any more than some soul-sucking social x-ray from the Real Housewives series is a spokeswoman for Bravo. Is he being fired for being out of character? Nah. He’s being fired for staying in character – a character A&E have nurtured and promoted and benefited from. Turning around and demanding a Duck Dynasty star suddenly become the equivalent of a Rachel Maddow guest is preposterous and unfair.
What Phil Robertson has given A&E is a dose of redneck reality. Why on earth would they fire him for giving some more?