Word finally got out this week that ol’ coot Phil Robertson of inexplicable reality TV show hit Duck Dynasty was a homophobe, laying waste to his monocle and high-society image in a GQ interview. This sparked a sea of outrage, baffling support for the elder duck caller, and damage control by the A&E (not to be confused with Arts & Entertainment, as their programming now has neither one) network to suspend Robertson from new episodes.
This story and outcome has the usual societal tropes that we’ve seen in the past and will see in the next occurrence of such idiocy: outrage; cries of faux outrage; support from the worst people; and the “what did you expect” assholes that are as bad as “devil’s advocate” internet debaters.
Lost in that shuffle were the more disturbing comments, like his thoughts on Southern blacks during the Jim Crow era:
“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.”
And his presidential preference of Mitt Romney through a convoluted analogy because he’d rather side with someone from Salt Lake City (Romney’s really from Boston) than Chicago–because, *SPOILER ALERT* he’s a racist:
“If I’m lost at three o’clock in a major metropolitan area…I ask myself: Where would I rather be trying to walk with my wife and children? One of the guys who’s running for president is out of Chicago, Illinois, and the other one is from Salt Lake City, Utah. [Editor’s note: Romney is from Boston, not Salt Lake City.] Where would I rather be turned around at three o’clock in the morning? I opted for Salt Lake City. I think it would be safer.”
And did you know that he beat up a woman? NO?!? YEP:
“During Phil’s darkest days, in the early 1970s, he had to flee the state of Arkansas after he badly beat up a bar owner and the guy’s wife. Kay Robertson persuaded the bar owner not to press charges in exchange for most of the Robertsons’ life savings.”
I haven’t seen Duck Dynasty; I have, however, seen the boatloads (more like yacht-loads) of themed merchandise (from Christmas albums to neckties and school folders. Its influence is clearly evident in pop culture, as their red state, down-home antics appeal to a wide variety of people–whether it’s genuine interest or hate-watch enthusiasts. It’s tempting to say that the viewers and consumers of their entertainment and goods are lowbrow morons that likely share the viewpoints of Mr. Robertson, and I wouldn’t be surprised, and saddened, to have that confirmed.
But the more frustrating thing is the support drawn to such a negative figure by people that use such opportunities to indulge their selfish tendencies. How? Oh HOW:
- I bet someone will play devil’s advocate/what-did-you-expect? with these factoids! He’s from the South! He grew up in more racist times! Who hasn’t wanted to slap around a mouthy woman? Well, you’re a dick, hypothetical douchebag!
- Feel like Robertson’s freedom of speech is being stomped out because others oppose the shit spewing from his mouth-sphincter? Guess what? Freedom of speech comes with the consequences that your words create.
- Believe that the so-called outrage over this is false and overblown? Wait until some video game system defect or iPhone shortage rocks your feeble world, then tweet about it and IMAGINE ME LAUGHING.
These issues bring out the worst in people, much like the incidents that shine a light on the worst in humanity. But it goes to show that the things that cultures prize are a microcosm of the beliefs and ethics of a society. And that a racist, homophobic testicle of a human being is the latest lightning rod of a nation teeming with racism and homophobia, being pelted and championed at the same time, is more proof that we should be careful about who we worship–forget about who THEY worship.