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Why Phil Robertson Got Suspended from Duck Dynasty

To some of the audience, the appeal was the family's "keeping it real" with their faith. Phil's anti-gay remarks made it way too real.

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When a media figure gets suspended for making an offensive statement, the tricky thing often is figuring out which part of it he or she got suspended for.

Star and duck-call mogul Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty, for instance, was indefinitely suspended by A&E Wednesday after an interview with GQ in which he called homosexuality sinful — like, in his words, drunkenness, bestiality, promiscuity, and terrorism — and in specifically anatomical terms saying why he thought being gay was “illogical.”

But which was the actionable part? Was he suspended for believing that being gay is a sin? For saying it out loud? For saying it in those terms?

In TV, writers talk about getting notes from the network to “make the subtext text.” That is, rather than be subtle, or hint at the meaning of a scene or dialogue without saying it in so many words, you need to make it clear so that nobody in your audience misses it. Robertson got in trouble, for once in TV history, for making the subtext text — for being explicit about the conservative Christianity that, when it was subtext, was a selling point for him and for his show.

Now, I’m not saying that you have to be Christian or conservative to like Duck Dynasty. It’s a comedy — a reality comedy, but still a sitcom, with sitcom setups and zingers — you just have to think it’s funny. I’ve only watched a handful of Duck Dynasty episodes — sometimes funny, not really for me — but nothing in it was predicated on accepting eternal hellfire for breaking the strictures of Leviticus. And likewise, you don’t have to disdain gay people or think being gay will send you to Hell to be a Christian — many, many Christians, some of them gay Christians, prove otherwise.

But for at least part of the huge Duck Dynasty audience, the Robertsons’ faith is part of the appeal: the fact that they’re public, devout Christians with a public platform, even if their faith was mostly background to the zany family antics. They might not be preaching, but if you cared enough you knew: they were keeping it real. And then there was the part of the show’s vibe that was less religious than cultural, but was still connected: that the show was about nostalgia, for the authentic ways, old days, and down-home values.

There were enough of all kinds of fans — family viewers and comedy fans and fans of the culture — to make the show a massive cable hit. As long as the subtext was subtext. But with Phil doing an interview in a national magazine, talking gay people, anuses, damnation — oh, and how the Japanese fought us in WWII because they didn’t have Jesus? [Update: As well as his pull-quoted remarks on “pre-entitlement” black people in the pre-civil rights South–“they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”]

That presents a problem. Now, you’ve got an issue with those of us who maybe just want to watch a family comedy about people outside a major city, but please without supporting somebody thumping gay people with their Bible. Or a problem with people with gay friends, or family, or, you know, actual gay A&E viewers.

And, once you take any kind of action on that, you’ve got the opposite problem — with deeply religious viewers who like the Robertsons for their faith. They’re going to see it as you punishing him for saying out loud what he believes, and maybe for what they themselves believe, and what they believe is the word of God. You’re punishing him, in their eyes, for being one of them.

As text rather than subtext, the stuff Phil thinks and says creates an irreconcilable problem. Which is why A&E is maybe trying to solve that problem by putting Phil on a “hiatus” from filming, because what exactly does that mean and how does it work? Is A&E going to put out a season of Duck Dynasty in which we just kind of forget that one of the family members exists? Or is this a “hiatus” that blows over once everyone forgets about this, Phil puts out some kind of crafted statement, and allows for the shooting of a full normal Duck Dynasty season? You know, like the exact same thing we would get if A&E didn’t do anything at all?

I can’t read A&E’s executives’ minds, of course, but there are other options. You can decide that what Phil said was bigoted and not something you want to be associated with, period. Or you can decide that it’s what he believes, and people can exercise their God-given right never to watch Duck Dynasty instead if they so choose.

Or you realize that things have gotten really uncomfortable, make an announcement that says you’re doing something, and wait for the text to become subtext again.

2037 comments
swat12
swat12

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falaks
falaks

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Don_L_P
Don_L_P

Phil Robertson is an example of what this world needs!!!  Nobody tells the younger generation how nice it was to feel safe out there. when we was younger.  It's not fair for them not to know where the answer lies!!!  Young children start school to learn so why not teach them the most important thing that will help them for a lifetime, To look to and realize that God is real and He watches over us. It's the schools responsibility to teach the young beautiful children so why not teach them the most important thing!!!  I'm 60 years old and we used to say The Pledge of Allegiance every day before we started our class and you never heard anywhere across the whole United States of someone killing another student!  If the younger generation would just learn to give thanks to God and depend on Him,  and learn to forgive the people that do us wrong (because they just don't know) then we could try to keep peace!  Just like anything (if we're smart enough),  When all else fails then we read the manual, The Bible (Gods instruction book).   Well, God Bless you all and I'm sorry if I upset anyone!  Love, Don

troymclure
troymclure

Phil robertson is weak and has latent homosexual tendencies himself he displays this fact by pointing out how much he hates gays that he feels this way by projection ie:
a defense mechanism in which a person unconsciously rejects his or her own unacceptable attributes by ascribing them to objects or persons in the outside world.For example, a person who is rude may accuse other people of being rude
Why can't he be a real man and point out the real injustice in this world like the super rich who make money off the backs of the poor Like walmart Exxon Haliburton
or point out the way our service men are treated once they come home from war!
Phil your a phoney punk@$$ anti-christian Richy Richboy, your not fooling anybody,
.You cant love money and god at the same time YOU KNOW THAT.

Dig if you will this picture :Men sitting around big boat table in hollywood:

Mirrored sunglass, camouflage shirt headband pants wearing bearded family YESS Smells like a  ratings maker Lets do it!

DanP
DanP

Hello..... A news flash..... No time in the future is that bearded ass Phil Robertson going to starve because he lost his  job on the Duck Dynasty reality farce. This has nothing to do with gays, religion, human right or Jesus. This has to do with opening your mouth and placing your foot in it....... He is being paid good money by A&E,  and they do not like what he said, plain and simple. YES....This is a free country... and you can say anything you want..... but you may suffer the consequences of you saying it. 

daisy09
daisy09

@DanPSad part is you "suffer the consequences" ONLY IF you are not part of what some say is the current politically correct. You can have a voice if you agree with liberal view, but differ from the current trends and lookout!

troymclure
troymclure


Oh-  don't you worry that Pretty little head of yours none, Phil R was not punished to harshly for speaking his mind atoll By A&E, I think he's gonna make out just fine.


Fastgirl
Fastgirl

Food for thought from gay, liberal, feminist Camille Paglia.
“I speak with authority here, because I was openly gay before the ‘Stonewall rebellion,’ when it cost you something to be so. And I personally feel as a libertarian that people have the right to free thought and free speech."
“In a democratic country, people have the right to be homophobic as well as they have the right to support homosexuality — as I one hundred percent do. If people are basing their views against gays on the Bible, again they have a right of religious freedom there."
“To express yourself in a magazine in an interview — this is the level of punitive PC, utterly fascist, utterly Stalinist, OK, that my liberal colleagues in the Democratic Party and on college campuses have supported and promoted over the last several decades.” “This is the whole legacy of free speech 1960’s that have been lost by my own party.”

Catherine531
Catherine531

@Fastgirl I want to thank you for your comments.  Whether you agree with Phil or not, the fact that he is now being ostracized and denied his livelihood because of his remarks that were made, not in the course of filming the show, but in a separate interview seems punitive.  That is a dangerous position to take! It was free speech that helped the civil rights movement achieve many of its goals; it was free speech that allowed women to achieve the right to vote and work outside the home; it was free speech that assisted the LGBQT community to achieve some of the social acceptance they now enjoy.  Everyone must be allowed to speak their minds and engage in debate or there is no such thing as free speech.  Whether we agree or not with what Phil said. I will defend his right to say it!

TayloorWinscher
TayloorWinscher

@Fastgirl I considered looking at the issue this way, but after much thought I must respectfully disagree with this viewpoint.  This is one example of what I've been seeing a lot of confusion on: The Freedom of Speech.  The right to free speech that America gives its people is an extraordinary thing.  We can't be arrested for what we say (apart from legitimate threats of course) and that is wonderful.  But people are confusing A&E for the government.  Phil Robertson did not get arrested for what he said.  He only was suspended from his job for what they believed were offensive statements.  A&E does not wish to support somebody that they believe has offended their viewers; especially considering that A&E has been a large supporter of the LGBT movement.

Phil Robertson has every right to be homophobic or racist, but A&E also has every right to fire or suspend their employees for what they consider to be misconduct.  This is without me even arguing whether what Phil Robertson said was wrong or not.  A&E just has the right to do that.

You might argue that he was suspended for his religious beliefs and therefore the suspension was illegal.  I disagree.  There is a fine line between following a religion and discriminating against a person for who they are.  People are commonly fired for the latter.  Just look at Paula Deen. 

Fastgirl
Fastgirl

@TayloorWinscher @Fastgirl "A&E does not wish to support somebody that they believe has offended their viewers; especially considering that A&E has been a large supporter of the LGBT movement."? Really? A&E made several rookie mistakes. One of them being know your star and another know your audience. They did offend their auidence. Why do you think Phil is back at work after only 9 days? Don't kid yourself. The only value A&E has is making millions off of Phil and his family. They knew about Phil's beliefs before hiring him and they knew what was in the GQ interview three months before it was made public. They chose not to do anything about it unil they heard from GLAAD. 




troymclure
troymclure

@Catherine531@Fastgirl

Oh-  don't you worry that Pretty little head of yours none, Phil R was not punished to harshly for speaking his mind atoll By A&E, I think he's gonna make out just fine.He's got millions of dollars to help cushion that fall!

I just don't understand why people like you defend pieces of crap like that because when something bad happens to you ain't gonna be no phil robertson coming to your defense!


AliciaKuhl
AliciaKuhl

Wow LGBQT....How many more will be added over the years. smh

PatrickPine
PatrickPine

I go to church on Sundays (and sometimes other days) and resent the remarks this guy made - these remarks misrepresent what I believe is the true basis of Christian belief and behavior.  I believe Jesus Christ would be offended by the remarks.


Though this show is called 'reality TV' - do a little research on this family and you quickly learn that virtually the entire family has remade itself for the purpose of this show - take a look at fairly recent pictures and you see an entirely different set of personalities.  Phil was a fairly decent college football quarterback.  The family business became the production and sale of duck calls and this family portrait in the show was developed for marketing purposes - not reality.


When you are in the business of selling products - you must be careful about your public pronouncements.  Phil wasn't - and he is paying the price.  He should.


traumaqueen45
traumaqueen45

@PatrickPine  I'm not quite sure why as a "Christian" you would be (or even think Jesus would be) offended by these remarks.  The Bible is clear on what is considered a sin & Phil just commented on what those were.  Since when does it become wrong for a Christian to speak about their Christian beliefs?  Isn't it just as wrong for you & anyone else that are judging him?  The Bible also speaks about that.   He even said in his interview that it wasn't his place to judge & he doesn't do that, but it was up to the Almighty.  As for the GQ article, A&E were there when the interview was done.  All they had to do, if they were worried what Phil might say is to ask GQ for approval before the article was written.  A&E knew all along where Phil stood on different issues.  If you think Phil really hates gays, then why would he work for a man (executive producer Scott Gurney) who played a gay man in a movie called "The Fluffer".  Maybe the didn't know he played such a role - or maybe they did & it wasn't up to them to judge (like they said).  I think too many people read into the interview & interpreted differently than what it was meant to be.  Many even said that Phil compared homosexuality to bestiality - which he did not.  I have even heard people say he talked about 'slaves', which again he did not.  He spoke about when he worked alongside black people picking cotton.  He said he had never seen anyone mistreat the black workers.  What is wrong with that?  He was only saying what he saw & never once spoke in a derogatory manner. 

As for Phil paying the 'price'.  Exactly what would you want?  Have him publicly flogged? I'm sure that his comment (based on public reaction in support of him) will not harm his business.  I think that the fact that GLAAD was so outspoken is what stirred the public.  So many times we read articles where gays are ostracized (or feel that they have been), only to find out later that the media reports were incorrect.  Have we forgotten already what Dayne Morales did & how she convinced so many in the media & public that she had been targeted because she was gay.  Only to find out that she not only lied about not receiving a tip & the comment left on the receipt.  But, she also lied about being active duty in the Marines, she lied about her father raping her & getting her pregnant & she lied about donating the money she received under false pretenses to Wounded Warriors.  Only 1 media source followed up on that & come to find out Wounded Warriors has said they not only had not received any donation from Dayne Morales, but they had not received any donations from anyone in her area.  So what happened to the thousands of dollars that were sent to her?

How about the school teacher who worked for a private Catholic school who went public when he was fired for taking off to get a marriage license?  He knew what the policies were when he worked there, but instead of taking the termination like a man, he took it to the media to garner support from the gay community.  Don't you consider it bias treatment when we are inundated with stories about gays who feel they have been mistreated either by their employers, customers, businesses, etc.

You know what upsets me more when I hear stories of gay couples?  Here are just 2 recent stories that were told, but they didn't create the media sensation I thought it would.  How about the story of Peter Truong & Mark Newton of Australia, who BOUGHT a newborn boy (supposedly from a woman that is suspected of being from Russia) for 1 purpose only - sexual gratification.  They started sexually abusing this baby when he was only 2 weeks old.  They not only abused him, but also allowed others to sexually abuse this baby.  I am also bothered by the story of Carl Herold & Charles Dunnavant, 'domestic partners' who sexually abused, tortured & took photos & videos of them sexually abusing Herold's 8 year old son.  Not only that, but this young boy was also potentially exposed to an STD.  Where is the outrage from GLAAD about these stories.  To me it is no different than what Sharpton & Jackson do when they come to the defense of a black person, whether they are in the right or wrong.  I guess it is even worse than what Sharpton & Jackson do because in both of these cases, young, innocent children were harmed, both physically & emotionally.  I would think that if GLAAD or LGBT would stand up & say "this is not what the gay community is about & we abhor this type of behavior."  But, their silence speaks volumes.  They are so fearful of people comparing them to pedophiles, that their silence is deafening.

ChuckMaroon
ChuckMaroon

iam sorry but I think u should have every right to speak your mine its suppose to be a free country but its ok for tv to show women get naked an guys kissing other guys but a man speaks his mine an its wrong iam sorry but I don't think phill meant it in a bad way I think they should let him back on the show if not leave a&e there other tv channel that will take u phill I don't think u did anything wrong god bless duck dynasty god bles the Robertson family all rednecks stick togeather love ur show I wacth it all the time