True confession: I like “Duck Dynasty.”
Yes, I know I’m not their target audience, as my big-city liberal, Volvo-driving, Chardonnay-sipping, hipster-professional friends are quick to remind me.
Worse, Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the popular A&E reality show’s featured family, has run into a buzz saw of political incorrectness.
Why, I am asked, would I watch a reality show about a family of self-described “rednecks” in backwoods Louisiana who love to hunt and hit pay dirt by making and selling high-quality duck calls?
And I answer, “I have eclectic tastes.” Besides, it’s a funny show, beginning with the long beards that make Robertson, his sons Willie and Jason (”Jase”) and brother Si look like tryouts for a ZZ Top tribute band. The Robertsons invite you to laugh with them, not at them.
To me, the show teaches what I think can be most valuable about TV: its ability to show how much, beneath the surface of our vast cultural diversity, we Americans share a lot in common.
Yet things we don’t share in common often get in the way. With that in mind, I have had a feeling, especially after last summer’s eruption over Southern-style chef Paula Deen’s colorful views on race, that Grandpa Robinson’s folksy backwoods candor was another cultural train wreck waiting to happen.
The feared collision occurred after Phil Robertson told a GQ magazine interviewer his real thoughts about gay rights and race relations, unfiltered by the popular A&E reality show’s producers.
The self-proclaimed “Bible thumper” condemned “homosexual behavior” as a sin and, using imagery too graphic for a family newspaper, equated it with bestiality and promiscuity.
He also offended many African Americans with praise for those who worked “singing and happy” alongside him in cotton fields during his hardscrabble upbringing, “pre-entitlement, pre-welfare,” with “not a word” of complaint about “these doggone white people.”