Tuned In

What Won’t Change About Duck Dynasty, and What Already Has

Phil Robertson's brief "suspension" won't change what goes on the air. But the show has now become the Chick-Fil-A sandwich of TV.

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Tonight, Duck Dynasty returns to A&E for the first time Phil Robertson shared with us how gross and sinful he thinks it is for men to have sex with men and how happy black people were in the pre-civil-rights South. His remarks spawned a protest, a suspension, and a counter-protest over the suspension, which A&E eventually lifted.

So the Robertsons will be returning to a different world indeed, right? Not entirely. Let’s run it down:

What won’t be different: Phil’s “suspension” won’t affect his appearance in any episodes, because for all practical purposes it did not exist. It took place while Duck Dynasty was on a shooting break, resulting–as I’d suspected when the news broke–with the same Duck Dynasty season we’d have gotten had A&E done nothing at all. Whether this was a p.r. disaster or a brilliant coup, the result is that A&E can say it did something, some people who were offended by Phil’s comments can believe he was punished, and “I Stand With Phil” fans can believe they won a victory with the end of a suspension A&E may have never intended to affect production anyway. (Related: the new season, already in the can before the whole fooferaw, will thus not address the controversy.)

What might be different: The ratings. There are a lot of factors here, though my guess is the show gets a boost from sheer publicity. Yes, there are some people offended by Robertson’s statements who’ve sworn the show off; the effect on the ratings depends on how many of them ever watched Duck Dynasty in the first place. But at least for the premiere, I’m betting they’ll be more than made up for by people watching the show for the first time (as a statement or not), longtime fans making sure to catch the first airing to Stand With Phil, and casual viewers who don’t care so much about the controversy one way or the other but, who have spent a solid month being reminded that Duck Dynasty exists.

What will be different: What it means to watch Duck Dynasty. The show has now joined the ranks of products that have become totems, like Chick-Fil-A (the fast-food chain that became a symbol of conservative bona fides after its president publicly opposed same-sex marriage) and Hobby Lobby (whose management protested the contraception-coverage requirements in the Affordable Care Act). Maybe you just watch the show for the laughs–me, I like Chick-Fil-A for the waffle fries–but to a significant part of the audience (and the politicians who want their votes), watching it is now a statement of belonging.

Dynasty, with its old-school ethos and its family prayers, always laid a little cultural statement between the lines, but the Robertson’s GQ interview brought it out into the open. For better or worse, we’re a country now that votes through consumption–we express our affiliations and ideology not just with donkeys and elephants but chickens and ducks. In late December, protestors arranged a two-for-one special, eating at Chick-Fil-A in Duck Commander gear to show their support for Phil.

Not everybody who watches Duck Dynasty now is going to do it because they agree with what Phil said, or even because they believe in his right to keep a lucrative TV job after saying it. Maybe you just think the show’s funny; we have a lot of ways of measuring how many people watch TV shows, but not so many ways of measuring why. (Though that probably won’t stop some journalists from reporting the season-premiere ratings like the results of the Super Tuesday primaries.) And the cultural politics here are not as simple as urban vs. rural, north vs. south, hipster vs. redneck. One thing that stands out about TLC’s Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, for instance, is the Thompson family’s outspoken tolerance of gay people, including Alana’s “Uncle Poodle,” Lee. (“Ain’t nothin’ wrong with being a little gay! Everybody’s a little gay.”)

But for an unignorable chunk of the audience now, Duck Dynasty is not just a reality sitcom but a statement: a defense of their besieged values, a defense of the waning belief that condemning gay people in public should be socially acceptable. Maybe in the first four seasons they heard Duck Dynasty affirming their beliefs with a kind of silent dog whistle. Like it or not, Phil turned it into a resounding duck call.

183 comments
RamonPrado
RamonPrado

I was desperately looking for a space to say something about this ridiculous show Duck Dynasty. Why is one of my favorite TV channels  (A&E)  bent on keeping this show? Some people might find it funny but it depends on the amount of grey matter some people have. What is funny about a bunch of bearded adults shaking up bottles of sodas and sprinkling the content on one another? I really tried to find the good side of it and tried watching it not once but several times; to no avail. Compare this type of show to Alaska The Last Frontier and Yukon Men where real people tell about their daily lives and one can easily understand the huge difference. There is nothing important to learn from Duck Dynasty.

ThomasLoomis
ThomasLoomis

There are a couple of things no one is mentioning and I'm not sure why.  I'd like to comment on them because their omission is telling.


First:  The fact that something is extremely popular does not make it right, good, correct, or admirable.  Stating that Duck Dynasty has this many or that many viewers or is the most popular show is meaningless.  While I have no problem whatsoever with Duck Dynasty, Christianity, or Homosexuality, I have to be honest that reality shows, which include Duck Dynasty, are certainly lowest common denominator entertainment.  We have a very anti-intellectual, anti-education, anti-intelligent bias in this country.  We like shows that keep it simple, espouse simple values, and don't challenge the viewer to think or engage in critical thought.  This is not good.  In order to be competitive in the world market we really need to stop sitting in front of the TV, drinking a six pack and zoning out.


Second:  Every person has a right to free speech.  However, no religion should have the right to singularly and incontestably define what the correct mores, norms, customs, and traditions should be enforced on the GENERAL POPULATION.  Christianity should not be the standard upon which all persons are judged.  While Christians certainly believe this is so, it is a violation of a Non-Christian individual's rights to have those regulations thrust upon them.  Marriage should not be defined solely based upon the Christian point of view.  Period.  The Christian population of the United States has absolutely no right to define what is right or wrong for everyone else if they cannot achieve this through legislation and balloting.  Everyone must play fair and NO ONE should have an advantage.


For the purposes of the incoming disagreements:


1.  I am a heterosexual married man of 20 years.

2.  I have five children.

3.  I am not a liberal.  I am a Libertarian.


In closing I would like to also say that Conservatives are not "completely right without question" the way most defenders of Duck Dynasty seem to imply.  The fact is that NO ONE, NO POLITICAL PARTY, NOTHING EVER is complete right without question.  In America, we have the legal right to question everything.  This is something that both sides need to come to grips with.



hamhock
hamhock

Duck Dynasty still had 8.5 million viewers, and was the number one rated cable show Wed ...the Liberal media forgot that part.

DBunker
DBunker

If people choose to watch a show about people making their living by creating a tool meant to mimic the mating call of a duck so that they can confuse the duck into thinking it's getting laid and instead, it gets killed, well, that's up to them. If they believe men should bed down girls at 15, before they are old enough to know what an idiot actually is, that is up to them. If they think some superstitious non-sense spouted by a group of Hebrew sheep herders over 4000 years ago is the key to all understanding, that is also their right. 


In America, you have the right to be an idiot. That's what freedom is. Remember that Dukes of Hazzard was the number one TV show for a few years. Duck Dynasty has the same demographic.

hamhock
hamhock

@DBunker Really? You do realize all of the DD members have college degrees right? Phil has a Masters in education and a bachelors in business. Also Phil was 16 when he married Kay. I watch the show and I have a masters degree in Criminal Justice. I watch it because the family has morals, prays, and is funny. Many of us are tired of the Liberal left pushing their garbage on us. But you go right ahead and make stupid comments about their viewers, it shows how little you know. Let me guess, you love to watch shows about anal sex, drug use and communism, to each his own.

ClassyLady
ClassyLady

I just spent a month in Europe.  While I watched TV there my senses were indulged with beautiful Viennese concert music, brilliant British dramatic acting and dialogue, superior French culinary masters, powerful Italian opera legends, and superb German historical documentary features.  Then I came to the US, turned on the TV and was assaulted with Honey Boo Boo, Duck Dynasty, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and the Jersey Shore.

Can you see where I'm going with this?

ThomasLoomis
ThomasLoomis

@ClassyLady  They don't want to see where you are going.  That is something that no one wants to deal with.  Duck Dynasty is popular because it reinforces the values of the lowest common denominator and entertains the masses without any intellectual engagement required.  It isn't that the viewers are stupid (because many are not,) it is that people are burned out and just want to tune out.  This country is going down hill fast and no matter what side your are on the only thing that is certain is that you are going to lose.


SamCro
SamCro

Huff Post story said Duck Dynasty was down, but the ratings say different. The libs go off the rail and now need to lie to justify their degenerate Hollywood productions and life style..


Duck Dynasty's fifth season premiere was Wednesday's top cable program, earning a 3.4 at 10:30 and a 3.3 at 10PM.  American Horror Story came in second with a 1.7 adults 18-49 rating, down from last week's a 1.8 adults 18-49 rating.

Cosmos
Cosmos

Fox's "Cosmos", airing March 9th. Much more interesting than a bunch of scripted posers. 

JimmyBeam
JimmyBeam

Show looks stupid sorry bro!!

JesusTheConservative
JesusTheConservative

I just want to thank the blue-eyed Caucasian Jesus that these sinful homosexuals won't be getting their way! I'm terrified of most everything I don't understand, which is pretty much everything other than my own limited personal opinions, but with the power of the Lord Jesus and a book from 2000 years ago, I've been able to justify my fear and hate. I'll be damned if I'm going to accept people who don't live by my rules and cherry picked biblical references! Can I get a Amen?!?

SamCro
SamCro

@JesusTheConservative  The bible is nothing but a guide to protect the future of mankind. It gives guidance on social norms base on protecting and procreation of the spices, don't screw sheep, don't eat contaminated meat, men and women make babies, keep you penis away from fecal matter, cleanliness and social order...


Because liberals like censorship we are not allowed to print stories of homosexuals have sex with five year old boys, or with dogs and sheep. GLADD would get upset.


JesusTheConservative
JesusTheConservative

I could not agree more! It also teaches us that interracial marriage is an abomination, so keep your white penis away from dark holes. It teaches us that polygamy is our right and that we should have the right to own slaves. I agree with you that America has been on a downward spiral ever since all these biblical rights and regulations of Holy wisdom have been ignored! The more we move into a logical free - thinking society of dirty liberals the closer we come to spending eternity in the fiery lakes of burning hell. Until then, I'll be praying to God every day to condemn and punish all those who would defy every single one of his holy laws, or at least the ones I like.

DBunker
DBunker

@SamCro @JesusTheConservative No one is stopping you from posting your stories. You, like all social conservatives, make up lies and even worse, you then believe them.

Dizzle
Dizzle

"a defense of the waning belief that condemning gay people in public should be socially acceptable." Journalists who are more interested in telling THEIR story than telling the truth make me sick. Thanks for throwing more wood into the fire. You remind me of the punk kid that's too scared to fight on his own but wants to see a fight so he exaggerates the truth and instigates hatred between others. Some journalists and defense attorneys go hand and hand when it comes to stretching the truth to get the results they want.

AlessandraBarros
AlessandraBarros

Best DD can do is move to a conservative or Christian channel.


A&E doesn't deserve to have them and it doesn't deserve to make a dime off of them

keithr
keithr

well I guess I should not say to much.i thought I lived in a country where it was free to say what was on your mind.i think its called freedom of speech ,if you don't like what whoever said don't listen to it,dont like the show don't watch it. by the way I also live in a trailor will watch the show simply because I like it ,will go to bed and say my prayers when im done and if someone out there thinks that's wrong then maby you might want to take a long look in the mirror

DanWild
DanWild

We're allowed to speak our minds too... something you simpletons seem to have forgotten.

DanWild
DanWild

Lol. Psychological "problem" implies that there is some negative outcome associated. The only negative outcome I see is that it seems to gross you out for some reason. Maybe _you_ should get checked.

AlessandraBarros
AlessandraBarros

@HeatherSharp@DanWildBecause they hate going to investigate and treat their warped and perverted minds

Most LGBTs are just junk of people who don't want to deal with their profound psychological problems

sellersjcb
sellersjcb

First it was chicken, then duck, but the most satisfying fowl of all is the crow that the liberal P.C. police have to eat when they realize the majority doesn't stand behind their agenda.

DanWild
DanWild

Actually I'm a vegetarian, so...

JimmyBeam
JimmyBeam

Come on Dan you know you like to eat meat..

DanWild
DanWild

@JimmyBeam I like to perform oral sex on penises, if that's what you mean.

JimmyBeam
JimmyBeam

Actually no.. I just figured you where saying that your a vegetarian to break there stones of the person that posted. Hey some people like Pepsi and some people like Coke it is what it is. I prefer the hole not the pole!!

Yoshi
Yoshi

Don't like it? Don't watch.

14owenmpowell
14owenmpowell

This season will have mixed reactions. I don't watch Duck Dynasty, or any other reality shows besides the the occasional talent competition or Discovery Channel show. I support gay rights, and I didn't agree with what Phil said, but he does have the right to say it. I think that the ratings will go up, because people will be more interested with the show because of the controversy.

Tosha
Tosha

I'm so so happy that Justmy2cents challenged what was reported as to what Phil Robertson stated on his pre civil rights era and growing up in Louisiana. In the GQ article of Phil Robertson, his statement on "Growing up Pre-Civil-Rights-Era" in Louisiana, Phil didn't say he felt Blacks where happier pre civil rights era, he simply stated his views of his family picking cotton with Blacks and they were considered to be white trash, he said. He thought they were happy, singing, they weren't on welfare and they were Godly people. Not singing the blues, so he thought! I'm really happy I read this article for myself now because it has given me a different view on what was misrepresentedly reported Phil said. Now when I watch the show, I won't feel like I'm a traitor.

JimmyBeam
JimmyBeam

That's what happen when you listen to a bunch of liberals! They only hear what they want so they can spread the hate.