The Dynasty Ain’t So Ducky.

Jan 28

The ratings for the reality show “Duck Dynasty” have taken a tumble following controversial comments from the family patriarch in a magazine interview last month.

Phil Robertson anti-gay remarks and claims he never saw unhappy black people while growing up in Louisiana during the Jim Crow era sparked considerable outrage when published online by GQ magazine.

Recent controversial remarks by "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson has hurt the show's ratings.

Recent controversial remarks by “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson has hurt the show’s ratings.

A&E, which broadcasts the show, initially suspended Robertson but reversed their decision following pressure from the show’s fans and conservative groups who declared Robertson’s right to free speech was under attack, as well as a not-too-subtle threat from the Robertson clan to leave the show. Considering “Duck Dynasty” last year made $20 million in profit for A&E, it’s easy to see what the true motivating factor was in their decision.

So why has the show’s ratings dropped from over 12 million viewers in Season Four to nearly half that number (6.6 million) only two episodes into Season Five, which debut less than three weeks following Robertson’s remarks? One would think, given the support expressed for the show and calls for Robertson to be reinstated, the ratings would remain high.

While the show’s conservative Christian fans have undoubtedly remained true, Robertson’s remarks upset a number of other viewers. They aren’t looking at Phil – portrayed as the quiet, biblical, common-sense father with the dry wit -in quite the same way anymore.

Much ink has been spilled regarding Robertson’s right to free speech and opinion as well as his perceived ignorance and bigotry. Whatever side one stands on regarding his views it’s clear his remarks adversely affected “Duck Dynasty’s” ratings.

Robertson’s remarks were at the very least ignorant, reflecting the views of an ageing bible-thumper who cannot understand the societal changes taking place. For him, Christianity is the end-all and be-all, believing all America needs to get back on the right path is to embrace the bible.

He comes by his faith honestly, crediting Christianity with saving him from a path of self-destruction. That’s certainly commendable, but his views on society in general are narrow-minded, showing a degree of intolerance no longer acceptable in modern society.

His remarks also opened the show up for closer scrutiny from its critics, chiefly those who believe the Duck Dynasty family is nothing more than a bunch of fakes pretending to be happy-go-lucky rednecks.

While it’s true the Robertsons were millionaires long before the reality show, they are genuine rednecks. There’s no faking their upbringing or the way they live, nor have they tried to hide it. While the show is certainly scripted, they genuinely are small-town southern conservative duck-huntin’ folks from the Louisiana backwoods.  Sure, the growing out of the beards and hair by Robertson’s sons to emulate their father is a gimmick, but they’ve always said they were rednecks with money.

A&E, meanwhile, proved truly cowardly in their awkward handling of Robertson following the uproar over his remarks. Their initial suspension of Robertson was a knee-jerk reaction, and when threatened with the departure of the rest of the Duck Dynasty clan, meekly reversed their decision. Rather than take a principled position, they caved to money.

It now appears Duck Dynasty’s popularity has crested, hastened by Robertson’s remarks. One wonders if Robertson’s controversial comments were his way of hastening an end to the popular show. He’s always seemed like he tolerates the televised intrusion into his life, and in the GQ interview stated he wouldn’t be sorry when the cameras are finally gone for good.

If so, the denizens of Duckburg will happily survive. They were millionaires before the show, they’ve earned many more millions because of it and will continue doing so when it finally goes off the air. In a few years, they’ll likely be the answer to a trivia question.

The controversy over Robertson’s views will soon be dismissed as those of an ageing redneck who doesn’t understand societal change. A&E will find another reality show, far-right Christian blowhards will find something else to rail against, and the media will find surely find another reality star whose controversial views will drive another news cycle.

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