Defenders of Duck Dynasty patriarch, Phil Robertson, have gone wild on Facebook in the days following his controversial remarks relating to homosexuality and race. The reaction of fans has come following the A&E network’s decision to suspend Robertson from the show indefinitely in response to his remarks, which have been considered by many to be disparaging.
One Facebook page dedicated to supporting Robertson and Duck Dynasty by encouraging a boycott of A&E until Robertson is reinstated on the show already has at least 1.3 million likes. The site attracted a million likes from users in its first 24 hours alone. The administrator of that page claims that at one point he was shut down from Facebook for a period of 12 hours because traffic to the page was overwhelming, gaining 4,500 likes per hour. Thousands of comments expressing support for Robertson have been posted on the page as well.
Another Facebook page titled as “We Stand With Phil” received over half a million likes in its first 12 hours.
Likewise, A&E’s Facebook page has gone wild with posts from Duck Dynasty defenders in recent days with a massive influx of comments from Robertson’s supporters. The network has seen multiple angry posts per second appearing on its page.
Facebook fans aren’t the only Duck Dynasty fans up in arms. They have also taken to Twitter in droves with hashtags such as “I Stand With Phil” and “Stand With Phil Roberston” going rapidly viral on the site. Even marketers are getting in on the action with T-shirts appearing that feature the slogan “I Don’t Give a Duck About A&E, Bring Back Phil.” In addition, a great number of Christian websites are encouraging readers to support Robertson, blaming his suspension from Duck Dynasty on the fact that he expressed his views about homosexuality in the context of his Christian faith.
Robertson’s remarks were published in GQ magazine’s January issue as part of an interview conducted with the reality TV star. His comments relating to homosexuality and race quickly grabbed the attention of both LGBT groups and the NAACP. A&E reacted swiftly to the outrage making clear in a public statement that Robertson’s viewpoints did not reflect those of the A&E network and that Robertson would be suspended indefinitely from Duck Dynasty. Despite the outcry from fans of Robertson and the show, the network has not yet changed its decision or made any further comment.
Duck Dynasty is regularly rated as one of the top shows on television and has set multiple ratings records for a cable reality show. The show is currently on hiatus, set to return with new episodes on Jan. 15. According to network executives, nine of the 10 episodes for the next season have already been filmed, so viewers can expect to see Robertson in those. The next scheduled filming is not until March, and it remains to be seen whether the issue with Robertson will be resolved by then. Other members of the Robertson family and stars of Duck Dynasty have expressed their disappointment with A&E’s decision to suspend their leader, and say that they cannot imagine the show without him.
An expert in crisis publicity management says he expects that this issue will blow over eventually because of the amount of money at stake for the network. He suggests that a sincere apology from Robertson may be a key part of resolving the situation. In the meantime, Facebook is sure to continue to reap the benefit of the wild surge of Duck Dynasty defenders actively visiting its site.
By Michele Wessel