Following the release of comments made by Phil Robertson to GQ magazine during an interview, the star of the show Duck Dynasty was suspended. The suspension angered fans who then rallied behind Robertson on social media. With thousands standing behind Robertson, including his family, will A&E continue to make its stand of political correctness?
Drew Magary of GQ magazine interviewed Phil Robertson of A&E’s Duck Dynasty for the magazine’s January issue. In the interview Magary drives with Robertson in his ATV, learning about hunting and the family’s duck calling business and getting to know the family patriarch. Robertson describes himself in his youth as a drunk, and drug user, but one day after throwing his family out of his home, he repented. Turning his life to Christianity, Robertson became what he calls a “bible thumper.”
In his candid interview with Magary, Robertson shares some of his Christian beliefs. While speaking with Magary, Phil Robertson describes his idea of what sin is, “start from homosexual behavior and just morph out from there….” He then paraphrases a verse from the book of Corinthians in which Paul speaks of who will be allowed into the kingdom of heaven.
These comments received immediate response from the LGBT community and its supporters. Of course this was also in addition to heat that came from the NAACP and black activists who cringed when Robertson described the African-Americans he knew prior to the Civil Rights Movement as “happy” and states that he never saw any black person mistreated in the Louisiana he grew up in.
The popularity of A&E’s Duck Dynasty has shocked many. The show’s Season 4 premiere garnered nearly 12 million viewers, making it number one in nonfiction series telecast history. When the season four stats were released an ecstatic vice president at A&E thanked the Robertson family for their “authentic and engaging characters”. The television company was very happy with the success of Duck Dynasty. The show is A&E’s biggest hit, with an average of 14 million viewers; any decline in viewership would have been costly to the company. So, in an attempt to stop the bleeding before any real damage was done, A&E decided to distance itself from the now controversial Phil Robertson.
A&E immediately released a statement, saying, “the network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely”, and,” his personal views do not reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been supporters and champions of the LGBT community.”
As reported by New York Times, A&E has not made any further comments concerning the Duck Dynasty issue. When asked whether A&E will stand by its decision an unnamed executive is said to have stated that they network has no second thoughts. Will this position hold against pressure from the Robertson family as well as fans of the show?
The Robertson family has also released a statement which states that they cannot continue filming Duck Dynasty without their patriarch. They are having talks with the networks to discuss the future of the show. Duck Dynasty is loosely based on the duck call company that Phil Robertson created after turning his life around. The company, Duck Commander, is now co-owned with Phil’s son Willie. The show was created after Phil and Willie made a DVD of their duck hunting escapades, which led to a show on the Outdoor Channel prior to A&E’s Duck Dynasty. The Duck Dynasty cast consists of Phil, his brother, his four sons, and the ladies of the family.
A Facebook page in support of Robertson has called for the boycott of A&E. The page has received 900,000 likes. There have also been many hash-tags on Twitter calling for support for the Duck Dynasty star.
With talks between A&E and the Robertson family still in progress there is no way to tell if the network will continue their stand. According to CNN’s Bill Carter the network hasn’t much to lose now that they have made their decision. Only time will tell what the future of Duck Dynasty will be.
By Earnestine Jones