jesus fish

December 21, 2013

WWJD Phil Robertson?

Filed under: Popular Culture — Karen @ 5:44 am

It’s been a rough 48 hours for Phil Robertson. The announcement by A&E was posted around 6:30PM Eastern Time on Wednesday. By 7:15, his name was trending on Twitter. News outlets and politicians immediately jumped on the story to promote their own agenda. By the time that I woke up Thursday morning, my Facebook feed was swamped with defiant statements of support for Phil and his anti-gay comments.

He has been both ridiculed on The Daily Show and treated as a martyr for the First Amendment by religious conservatives. In all the hoopla over his suspension from Duck Dynasty, I have not heard anyone talk about Phil as a human being.

Most people have heard something about his rags to riches story. Phil went from being a quarterback at Louisiana Tech to teaching high school to tending bar. The turning point in his life came at the age of 28 when he committed his life to Christ and began the business that would become a multi-million dollar enterprise. Duck Dynasty premiered on A&E in March 2012. They just finished filming the 4th season. In August, it was announced that the Robertson family will receive 200k per episode to be split among roughly 20 people in the cast. The show is the highest rated program on A&E.

I have watched the show a few times and find the family to be sincere and likeable. The increasingly contrived situational humor is annoying but typical of “reality television”. Real reality can be boring so it is no surprise that producers decide to inject their own plot lines.

And Phil’s comments came as no surprise to anyone who has watched the show. Liberal minded editors at GQ may find his ideas quaint and old-fashioned but these opinions are the majority view in the South. Even the stereotype of the “happy negro” that existed before Northern agitators stirred up discontent during the 60’s is a commonly held belief.

Phil is a product of a passing generation. His words reflect the fears and prejudices of his times and the worry that his grandchildren will forsake the values upon which their culture is based. His rants about “yuppies” are a common occurrence on the show. I don’t think that Phil spoke with malice towards homosexuals or African Americans. He spoke with the careless bigotry that is so much a part of conversation in the South.

Along the lines of WWJD, what should Phil Robertson do in response to the uproar over his interview in GQ? The same thing that he has always done, I suppose. Speak his mind openly and share the truth of his convictions. He is not a martyr or an object of mockery. He is an old man who fears for the future at the same time that he longs for a simpler past.

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