Update: A&E announced that it has suspended Phil Robertson from appearing on Duck Dynasty, Entertainment Weekly reports.
Well, I think if we were all being honest with ourselves, we just had to wonder when something like this was going to happen. Phil Robertson’s comments to GQ, during which he bluntly relates his interpretation of the Bible’s stance on homosexuality, have sparked an outrage, one that threatens to take Duck Dynasty from a show that we can all like to one that becomes a referendum on your morality and politics.
Sigh, let’s hope not.
In a rollicking, wholly entertaining interview with writer Drew Magary (let’s not allow that to be lost amid all this controversy), the Robertson family patriarch trots out the old fire-and-brimstone chestnut linking homosexuality with the overall moral decline of America:
“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,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “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.”
While this alone might be enough fodder for some culture warriors, I’ve always found it disingenuous, or naive at best, to get angry about comments like these. No one in the Robertson family has ever tried to shy away from their traditional Christian beliefs, so it seems silly to act offended when they actually state them.
My personal favorite line is when Magary describes what it’s like to talk with Phil Robertson, and it maybe provides an insight to Phil’s default state of mind: “There are times when he doesn’t look you in the eye while he’s speaking — he looks just off to the side of you, as if Jesus were standing nearby, holding a stack of cue cards.”
Perhaps more offending — or at the very least, off-putting — is when Phil’s condemnation of homosexuality gets anatomical:
“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.”
In trying to explain God’s, and thus his family’s, love for all people, Phil also seems to equate homosexuals with terrorists. So, yes, he’s certainly said a mouthful. None of it should really be surprising, but it undoubtedly puts a dent in the carefully crafted apolitical image A&E — and I would imagine the Robertsons themselves — have tried to give Duck Dynasty. With episodes and specials that reach up to 14 million viewers, it’s the kind of show that goes far outside what could be seen as its built-in demographic and crosses over to a staggeringly wide audience. Everybody loves Duck Dynasty, even many of those illogical folks Phil was talking about.
I’ve interviewed Willie a couple of times, along with Miss Kay, and regularly do Duck Dynasty recaps, and have enjoyed every bit of it. While I don’t hunt, wear camo or sport a beard, I am an unabashed fan of the family and the show. Their antics may be “semiscripted,” but their genuineness is not, and that is why their appeal is so strong. For the most part, red-staters and blue-staters alike can enjoy watching the Robertsons do their thing and not feel bad about it. Hopefully that can continue, even though in the cocktail party that is Duck Dynasty, somebody just made the huge faux pas of bringing up politics and religion. Or rather it’s such that we live in a world today where they so often are the same thing.
Photo: © 2013 Credit: Karolina Wojtasik