Gene Lyons: ‘Duck Dynasty’ star destined to fade into obscurity

By Gene Lyons

Syndicated columnist

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Now that I’ve actually seen a few episodes, “Duck Dynasty” is relatively harmless entertainment. Whatever “reality TV” means, it’s definitely not that. It’s a semi-scripted sitcom, basically cornball self-parody. Think “Hee Haw” without the music. I find it utterly inane, but then I don’t watch TV with children.

The “tell” is the show’s women, cute Southern sorority girls turned mommies. In real life, no way would those women tolerate their “menfolk” running around looking like a truckload of ZZ-Top impersonators. They’re also not going on TV with hay in their hair like some Hollywood director’s idea of a country girl. Every comedy needs a straight man; on “Duck Dynasty” it’s the women.

But realism? Please. The beards, hair and overalls are costumes every bit as theatrical as the outfits the Rolling Stones wear onstage. In the rural Arkansas county where I live, you could hang around the feed store for a month without seeing anybody like “Duck Dynasty” “patriarch” (and head bigot) Phil Robertson. And if you did, his wife wouldn’t have any teeth.

The Robertsons are country-clubbers posing as rednecks. Duck hunting itself — requiring, as it does, quite a bit of expensive gear and pricey leases — is mainly a rich man’s pastime in the South. Deer hunting makes economic sense; duck hunting’s a luxury. It’s what doctors, lawyers and bankers do when the weather’s too lousy for golf. Bill Clinton used to go duck hunting once a year to prove he loved guns.

 

How long, I wonder, before the “Duck Dynasty” boys endorse the “Bad Boy” brand of riding mowers? Currently represented by a half-clothed model urging guys to “Get a Bad Boy, Baby!”, these machines have the magical capacity to convert a tax accountant mowing a suburban half-acre under his wife’s supervision to a daredevil NASCAR racer. Yee Haw!

But the laughter ended abruptly when “Duck Commander” Phil Robertson inserted himself into the nation’s vituperative culture wars. The whole thing looked like a publicity stunt gone wrong — possibly successful in the short run, but almost certain to prove destructive in the end.

Concerning which, a few thoughts:

First, Sarah Palin and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal notwithstanding, nobody has a First Amendment right to appear on TV. Make controversial public pronouncements deeply offensive to your employers, and you’d better have a backup plan.

The creator and producer of “Duck Dynasty” is one Scott Gurney, who once appeared in a gay-themed film called “The Fluffer.” (Don’t ask.)

The guy helps make you rich and famous, and you denounce gays as evil? That’s appalling.

Second, it has nothing to do with Christianity. Robertson didn’t just say he’s against gay marriage, nor even that God is. He spoke in the coarsest possible terms about homosexuality, equating it with bestiality.

He’s also characterized gay men and women as “full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant, god-haters, they are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless, they invent ways of doing evil.”

Third, 10 years ago, many of the same people portraying Robertson as a martyr burned Dixie Chicks CDs and cheered their banishment from country radio stations for the terrible crime of saying they were embarrassed by George W. Bush before everybody was.

And those girls have genuine talent.

Fourth, as for the happy, singing darkies of Robertson’s Louisiana childhood, where are they on “Duck Dynasty”? Know what the African-American population of Monroe/West Monroe is? It’s roughly 60 percent. I’ve seen no black faces on the program.

Another prominent American from West Monroe is Boston Celtics great Bill Russell — a black man who’s been known to have strong opinions about race. Maybe Robertson ought to talk with him, although it wouldn’t be easy.

“Duck Dynasty” may be this month’s right wing cause celebre. Longer term, however, unapologetic bigots always fade into obscurity, basically because they embarrass people.

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Comments

Pot calling the kettle

"In the rural Arkansas county where I live, you could hang around the feed store for a month without seeing anybody like “Duck Dynasty” “patriarch” (and head bigot) Phil Robertson. And if you did, his wife wouldn’t have any teeth." I doubt seriously if this entitled gentleman has ever been in a feed and seed store. However his comment is quite telling, if you don't agree with him or dress like him you are obviously ignorant and or toothless. This is the liberal media at its finest. Bash everyone if they don't agree with your agenda. All the while they go to court to protect THEIR right to free speach. Like the other commenter if you don't like the show don't watch it. However if you believe what you say where is the articles written over your outrage where the liberal press has called folks in the Republican/Conservative movement names or made disgusting remarks about them? What, didn't write one? Didn't think so. What a hypocrite. Just go away.

Agree or Be Censored?

Seems like your "rules" require everyone to agree with the "politically correct" perspective, or be censored...and worse...labelled a racist and a bigot. Robertson has a right to his opinions, and this being America, he has the right to speak them aloud. Many Americans don't agree with the "homosexual agenda", specifically its infiltration into the classrooms of public schools. Yet, these Americans remain silent because they don't wish to be pilloried by bullies like you. You apparently don't like beards, overalls, duck hunting in general, the women on the show, the absence of black Americans on the show, etc. Here's a simple solution for you: don't watch the show! In the meantime, pipe down so the rest of us can enjoy it. Its only TV, Lyons...its only TV.

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