The show, about the family business of making duck calls and other hunting gear, has become the most popular in reality television history.
Yes, even bigger than the Kardashians.
Nearly 12 million viewers tuned in for the season premiere enchanted by the family’s simple way of life and homespun humor. But the family’s rustic values also include the baggage of their backwoods prejudices, namely racism and homophobia.
The clash of values comes from the family’s literally belief in the Bible as the word of God.
The Robertsons: Who’s Who on Duck Dynasty
Phil Robertson: Created the Duck Commander duck call in 1972 and incorporated the Duck Commander Co. in 1973. Phil graduated from Louisiana Tech with a degree in Physical Education, holds an MA degree in Education and once worked as a school teacher. Phil dislikes modern technology.
Kay Robertson: Phil’s wife, aka Miss Kay. She married Phil at 16. Her home cooked meals are a centerpiece of each episode, with Phil leading the family prayer.
Si Robertson: Phil’s brother and a Vietnam War veteran, who works at Duck Commander.
Willie Robertson: Phil and Kay’s third son and the CEO of Duck Commander. A University of Louisiana at Monroe graduate, he’s built Duck Commander into a multi-million-dollar business. Willie narrates most of the show.
Korie Robertson: Willie’s wife and business partner. She graduated from Harding University. She’s Duck Commander’s office manager.
John Luke Robertson: Eldest son of Willie and Korie, twin brother of Sadie.
Sadie Robertson: Eldest daughter of Willie and Korie, twin sister of John Luke.
Jase Robertson: Phil and Kay’s second son, who oversees manufacturing. Jase tunes duck calls by hand.
Missy Robertson: Jase’s wife. They have 3 children: Reed, Cole, and Mia.
Reed Robertson: Jase’s and Missy’s eldest son.
Cole Robertson: Jase’s and Missy’s second son.
Jep Robertson: Phil and Kay’s youngest son. He creates DVDs of the Robertson family hunting.
Jessica Robertson: Jep’s wife.
Alan Robertson: Phil and Kay’s eldest son. Originally a preacher, he handles public relations at Duck Commander and wants to use the show to spread the word of God.
There’s no denying the Bible’s view on homosexuality, according to Corinthians, which Phil cited in the GQ article that touched off the brouhaha in the first place.
“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,” he said.
Of course, comparing a woman’s vagina with a man’s butt hole didn’t help either.
A&E acted swiftly to place Robertson on indefinite “hiatus,” hoping to quell critics. But they also ignited a backlash fanned by the folks at Fox News and other demagogues like Sarah Palin, who hope to make political hay out of it.
Just how much Robertson’s views represent “Middle America,” however, is subject to debate. The family lives in Monroe, Louisiana, which is the deep south, not exactly a bastion of enlightenment or political correctness.
What’s more, the family believes Phil is right in his views, they think he just didn’t express himself very artfully.
In the end, though, it’s hard to believe the Robertsons would just walk away from the show; they got big raises and are getting rich from it. But sometimes family honor means more than money, another backwoods anachronism.
On thing is certain, their statement paints the A&E Network into a corner. Let Phil back on the show and look hypocritical, or risk losing the biggest show in the network’s history. Now let’s see where honor lies.
Another factor that bears watching is how viewers react to the show now that the Robertsons have been portrayed as less like lovable country bumpkins, and more like a nightmare right out of “Deliverance.”
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