DDD Skips the Usual Ritual, Still Wins


So the Duck Dynasty Douchebag, as I have been referring to Phil Robertson, is back and so is the show on A&E after a 9-day “indefinite” suspension that skipped over all the usual elements that surround such situations. This is what I wrote in a private Facebook group on Dec. 19:

I highly doubt that Duck Dynasty is going to be canceled. As usually happens, the offender will go through a series of public genuflections and pretend that they’ve really truly changed their ways and learned their lesson. There’s too much money at stake. A&E makes massive amounts of money from the show.

But I was wrong. There was no genuflecting. There wasn’t even a hint of remorse or contrition, no public rituals of the sort engaged in by Michael Richards, Tracy Morgan and countless other celebrities who had said bigoted things in public. There were no meetings between high-level gay rights leaders and Robertson, no counseling sessions, not even a classic “to anyone who was offended by my words” not-pology. Neither Robertson nor his family even pretended to give a damn about what anyone thought of what he said. But A&E says that’s good enough for them:

Little more than a week after it suspended “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson for incendiary remarks about homosexuality, the cable channel A&E said Friday that it would include him in future tapings of the reality television show, effectively lifting the suspension amid a flurry of petitions in support of Robertson.

“After discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming Duck Dynasty later this spring with the entire Robertson family,” the channel said in a statement…

In an apparent gesture to the advocacy groups, A&E said that it would “also use this moment” to broadcast public service announcements “promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people.”…

Inside A&E, a sudden end to “Duck Dynasty” was never seriously contemplated. The show is enormously profitable for A&E and, executives there pointed out in private, for the Robertsons, too. (Any shopper strolling through Walmart, where the aisles are stocked with “Duck Dynasty” gear, would recognize that.)

But A&E executives felt they had to send a message of disapproval after seeing Robertson’s comments to GQ, partly because some of the channel’s own staffers were offended by the interview. The suspension announced on December 18 sent that message — and shortly thereafter, the channel and the Robertsons’ representatives started to discuss a path forward.

“We knew we had a great partnership with the family,” said an A&E executive on condition of anonymity because the channel and the family had agreed not to say anything publicly aside from Friday’s statements.

Talks between the two sides took place on Christmas Eve, paused on Christmas, and resumed on Thursday, leading to Friday’s announcement.

It was immediately perceived as a victory by some of the conservative groups that had protested the suspension. One headline on the influential Drudge Report on Friday evening was “A&E CAVES,” another read, “Gay Activists Group Delivered Stinging Defeat.”

They’re right. It is a victory for them. All that happened was that they took a break for Christmas. But since they already had a season’s worth of shows in the can, they weren’t going to be taping anyway until spring of 2014. Which means, in the end, that there were absolutely no consequences for anyone, only a public feint from A&E that they actually gave a shit. But that seems to be enough for the Human Rights Campaign, which has, as Andrew Sullivan has long pointed out, become mostly useless.

But some of the advocacy groups that were originally dismayed by Robertson’s depictions of homosexuality begged to differ.

“It’s not really a reversal,” Fred Sainz, a representative of the Human Rights Campaign, told CNN’s Brianna Keilar in a telephone interview on Friday. “We think it’s actually a positive outcome, and we want to thank A&E for their attentiveness and collaboration over the course of the last few weeks.”

Sainz said that his group was “heartened” by A&E’s plans for the public service announcement. campaign. A spokesman for A&E declined to comment on whether Robertson or other “Duck Dynasty” cast members would participate in the campaign, but the channel is said to be hopeful that at least some of the cast members will.

“We’ve received assurances also that the Robertson family is now open to working with African-American and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people to address the real harm that such anti-gay and racist comments can cause,” Sainz said on CNN. “That’s been our ‘ask’ since Phil’s comments ran in GQ, and while it’s a positive step, it certainly cannot and should not be the last one.”

Let me translate that for you: “Thank you sir, may I have another? Thank you sir, may I have another?” This is not a positive outcome for the cause of equality, it’s a resounding defeat for it. The public rituals of contrition and self-flagellation that celebrities typically go through when they do something like this are usually fake, but even those were avoided here. HRC got played and they’re dishonestly declaring it a victory. How pathetic.

Comments

  1. Steven says

    This is a good thing. Had the show been canceled you just know this ass-hat had been made into a “martyr” in right wing circles. Now he will simply gently fade back into irrelevance, as gay rights continue to improve.

  2. says

    I really think this is too trivial an issue to make a big stink over. There are far too many concrete victories being won right now to care whether Robertson can be persuaded into making an apology, even if that were somehow meaningful.

    And that second Drudge headline reminds me of Hitler’s reaction to the death of FDR. Victory is right around the corner, as long as you ignore the where the armies are marching.

  3. says

    It must be tough being Liberal Hollywood. On the one hand you have to Corrupt America’s Morals. On the other, money is nice. So…
    Typical Liberal Hollywood, bowing down to Mammon and dealing yet another blow to the Morals of America*!

     
    * …which they support.

  4. says

    Look on the bright side. Had the show be canceled, the DDD would probably have been given his own radio show and a regular guest slot on Hannity’s America. So we were spared that.

  5. markr1957 says

    Apparently the comatose response to the manufactured controversy has shown A&E that they’re throwing good money away in trying to promote interest in this ridiculous show. By some accounts viewership went down from barely more than 1M to under 1M in the first weeks, and the pushback from the nutty Churchians only raised interest by a couple of thousand, so money was spent for no return. All that publicity and still no new advertising accounts! Kill the show, A&E – nobody cares about a bunch of yuppies who grew beards so they could invent a reality show about fake rednecks.

  6. says

    markr1957 “…nobody cares about a bunch of yuppies who grew beards so they could invent a reality show about fake rednecks.”
    The Reverse Beverly Hillbillies.

  7. Michael Heath says

    Yesterday I saw Phil Robertson on TV for the first time. He was in an Under Armour commercial that also starred Lindsey Vonn and another celebrity whom I’ve since forgotten. It was broadcast on one of the NFL games.

    In addition let’s not forget the only authentic apology we’ve heard. It came from Cracker Barrel; the apology was their regret for announcing an end to their marketing Duck Dynasty stuff that offended the portion of their customer base which are bigoted towards gays and blacks. The apology came when they reversed that decision.

    So from my perspective he’s now bigger than ever. All I can do is no longer frequent Cracker Barrel and stop purchasing Under Armour merchandise.

    All this is also now in the context that Mr. Robertson recommends that men marry teen-age girls younger than 17. That’s in order to better control them during the marriage. According to him single women in their early-20s get uppity – they won’t “pluck one’s ducks” (paraphrased). Instead they become slaves to money if they remain single into their early 20s.

  8. jamessweet says

    I agree with Area Man, this is a relatively trivial component of the broader struggle for LGBT rights, and I’m not going to lose any sleep over it (as one of my friends rather dismissively wrote on Facebook, “Rednecks gonna redneck.” I don’t agree entirely with his blase attitude, but there’s some truth in that…) Still, though, Ed is right that this is an obvious defeat, and it’s sort off-putting to see HRC declaring that there are no American tanks in Baghdad. Still, as obvious as it is, it’s a minor defeat, and it comes at the same time as very real victories. Meh.

  9. says

    Given the way the right-wing mind usually works, I wouldn’t be surprised if this decision is taken as some sort of great victory in the War on Gays, and that Robertson and his fellow travelers will see it as an open invitation to make homophobic and hate-filled remarks every chance they get. Because after all they “won”, so this means that the 1st amendment allows you to say anything to anybody without consequence. And then he or a dozen like him will find themselves getting canned for real this time, and we’ll go through this shit all over again.

  10. John Pieret says

    There was an old joke told about Tom Watson, founder of IBM, and its corporate culture. Back in the 50s-60s IBM was very “buttoned down.” Sales reps were expected to wear dark suits, white shirts and short hair, preferably crew cuts.

    One manager had a problem rep. His hair was long and scraggly, his suits, when he wore one, were stained and rumpled and his shirts were often shockingly pastel in color.

    The manager confronted the rep and demanded that he live up to the “IBM” style. Slowly, the rep looked up at the manager and clearly and distinctly said “Go fuck yourself!” The manager, nonplused, said: “I’m going to take you to see Mr. Watson himself so he can see exactly what you are like and why you should be fired immediately!”

    After being ushered into Watson’s presence and after listening to the manager’s litany of complaints, Watson asked the rep what his explanation was. The rep replied: “Go shit in your hat!”

    Watson paused and then asked the manager: “What percentage of his quota for getting new business did he meet in the last year?”

    The manager fumbled in the rep’s personnel file until he found the figure: “Um … 200%.”

    Watson thought for a second and then turned to the manager and said: “I can always get a new hat but it seems you have a sexual problem.”

    A&E will be getting a new hat but …

  11. jonathangray says

    There was no genuflecting. There wasn’t even a hint of remorse or contrition, no public rituals of the sort engaged in by … countless other celebrities who had said bigoted things in public. There were no meetings between high-level gay rights leaders and Robertson, no counseling sessions, not even a classic “to anyone who was offended by my words” not-pology. Neither Robertson nor his family even pretended to give a damn about what anyone thought of what he said. … The public rituals of contrition and self-flagellation that celebrities typically go through when they do something like this are usually fake, but even those were avoided here.

    Clearly stronger measures are called for …

  12. jenlanglois says

    And you actually left out one of the most annoying bits of the uproar and outrage that Phil might face some consequences for the things he said – the guy said *last July* that he wasn’t going to be on the show much longer, because he was getting tired of it …

  13. gshelley says

    I’m surprised there I anyone who didn’t expect this. A&E were never going to risk something as popular as DD and were always going to reinstate him after a couple of weeks
    Did they even film any episodes without him?

  14. says

    Let us pray that Mrs. Duck Douchebag goes to some No-tell Motel and finds Mr. Duckdouche in flagrante ducklicte with a 15 or 16 yo–of either sex. Then, some sparks may fly.

  15. laurentweppe says

    The public rituals of contrition and self-flagellation that celebrities typically go through when they do something like this are usually fake, but even those were avoided here

    The usual “genuflections” carry the following meaning: “I despise you, but I know you are strong enough to hurt me a lot if I don’t fake willingness to coexist with you“: that’s why they are actually very important: a bully will never offer a sincere apology, but in this case, he will at least concede that he has a vested interest in keeping his own behavior in check.

  16. Doug Little says

    Ha Ha, I hope this bolsters their ability to say stupid bigoted shit and have another crack at it. It’s been fun watching the Tea baggers go absolutely insane over the whole thing and the inevitable folding of A+E will be viewed as positive reinforcement rather than a warning. So who’s next to speak out against political correctness? Can we start a pool?

  17. jonathangray says

    larentweppe:

    The usual “genuflections” carry the following meaning: “I despise you, but I know you are strong enough to hurt me a lot if I don’t fake willingness to coexist with you“: that’s why they are actually very important: a bully will never offer a sincere apology, but in this case, he will at least concede that he has a vested interest in keeping his own behavior in check.

    How do you equate expressing disapproval with “unwilling to coexist”? If you’re willing to tolerate someone, that means you’re tolerant of him — live and let live. AFAIK Phil Robertson never called for homosexuals to be persecuted.

    Clearly “you are strong enough to hurt me a lot if I don’t fake willingness to coexist with you“ should really read “you are strong enough to hurt me a lot if I don’t fake approval of your lifestyle”. That’s what this is about — not a plea for tolerance but a demand for approval and the desire to criminalise any public expression of disapproval.

    That’s pretty intolerant and the fact that the intolerant ones have the power to enforce public acts of penance, however insincere, and are willing to use that power to ruin someone’s career, suggests it is they who should probably be called “bullies”.

    It seems that this time the bullies made the mistake of picking on someone who isn’t afraid of them, someone who, in Ed’s words, hasn’t “even pretended to give a damn about what anyone thought of what he said”.

  18. says

    “That’s pretty intolerant and the fact that the intolerant ones have the power to enforce public acts of penance, however insincere, and are willing to use that power to ruin someone’s career, suggests it is they who should probably be called “bullies”.”

    You like to tout your christian and “Western” values–KKKristianist and KKKountry western are far more accurate–you fucking tool. You are, really, and I mean this, a miserable fucking excuse for a human being. I can’t be bothered hating people in an active way, but in your case, if you you were on fire I wouldn’t let my friendly little dog piss on you.

  19. freehand says

    So, jonathongray, you agree that all of the gun owners who are boycotting Toby Keith’s new “no guns, please” restaurant are just like Red Chinese commies bent on “re-education” or worse. Intolerant jerks, right?

  20. says

    Re: Evan Brehm @ 18:
    So duckbreath advocates marrying children of 14 and 15. As an adult he married a girl of 16, which in his state is strictly illegal! But then he’s of the GOP, furthermore probably suffering from affluenza, on top of which he’s wealthy, and furthermore waves the bible. What a pig.

  21. Doug Little says

    jg @21

    desire to criminalise any public expression of disapproval.

    What the fuck you talkin’ ’bout Willis.

  22. jonathangray says

    zenlike:

    you are intolerant of my intolerance! Waah!

    I’m not decrying intolerance. I’m pointing out the hypocrisy of self-proclaimed liberals acting illiberally.

    If Robespierre says: “I disagree with what you say and will crush you” – I can respect that.

    If Voltaire says: “I disagree with what you say but will defend your right to say it” – I can respect that too. But if Voltaire then proceeds to act like Robespierre, I smell hypocrisy.

    If you think people like Phil Robertson should be silenced, fine. Just don’t call yourself secular/atheist/egalitarian liberals, because what you actually are is secular/atheist/egalitarian authoritarians.

    freehand:

    So, jonathongray, you agree that all of the gun owners who are boycotting Toby Keith’s new “no guns, please” restaurant are just like Red Chinese commies bent on “re-education” or worse. Intolerant jerks, right?

    I’m not familiar with the specifics of that case. Put it this way: if the gun-owning community exercised a powerful influence in the media, academia and political elites; and if they then used their resulting clout to intimidate this Toby Keith into making public acts of contrition, into meeting with leaders of the the gun-owning community as a humble supplicant begging forgiveness, into attending counselling sessions with a view to curing his anti-gun bigotry — then yes, I’d say they were acting pretty much like Mao’s Red Guards.

    (I’m not saying these tactics could never be justified. I’ve no objection to ‘intolerance’ per se — but then, I don’t claim to be any sort of liberal.)

    democommie:

    You like to tout your christian and “Western” values–KKKristianist and KKKountry western are far more accurate–you fucking tool. You are, really, and I mean this, a miserable fucking excuse for a human being. I can’t be bothered hating people in an active way, but in your case, if you you were on fire I wouldn’t let my friendly little dog piss on you.

    I’m sensing some hostility here, democommie. What you need is to relax with some old-time country music.

  23. dingojack says

    Jonny – “… Put it this way: if the gun-owning community exercised a powerful influence in the media, academia and political elites;…”

    As to the last – you really haven’t been paying attention to US politics have you? No conditional is required.

    Dingo

  24. colnago80 says

    Re Jonathan Gray @ #27

    Gray is seriously deranged. Nobody is trying to silence Robertson. He has the right to say anything he wants. But, on the other hand, there is no requirement for A&E or any other outlet to provide him with a forum.

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