Friday, December 20, 2013
The World and the Heavens According to Phil
I suppose if you are sitting at the Boar's Nest bar having a few drinks and overhearing this kind of conversation, it doesn't really much matter, but finding it in GQ magazine is a little disconcerting. Do we really need to give guys like Phil Robertson an international audience? Isn't it enough to let them just have their page on facebook or some other social network and garner "likes" like the rest of us.
This infatuation with "White Trash" is really something. It seems like the cable networks are constantly tripping over themselves to find the next local bigot or racist to make into an overnight celebrity. With All In the Family and Sanford and Son it was satire, but this new wave of cable reality show programming is all too real and Duck Dynasty has been a huge hit for A&E network.
I remember when A&E was about cultural programming, something sorely lacking on the major cable channels. Now it has fallen into the same trap, or should I say duck blind, with Discovery, Food Network and TLC, serving up white trash on a silver platter. Don't they have cable networks like CMT for folks like this?
You could just dismiss Robertson's religious conservative views as idle bar room chatter if it wasn't for his many supporters. In his GQ interview, Phil equated gays with drunks and terrorists. He also stated that blacks were "singing and happy" picking cotton, based on his own experiences working side by side in the fields. Sadly, his views are all too emblematic of a wide cross section of this country, which stretches far beyond the Mason-Dixie line.
Robertson is the proud patriarch of a clan of duck hunters that has overtaken Deadliest Catch and other fishing and hunting reality programs, which have become the staple of cable television. The show was launched just last year and Robertson was apparently negotiating an extension of his contract with A&E when he decided to broadcast his uncensored views. He and his family currently collect $200,000 per episode. One can imagine the directors of this program had to do a lot of editing from week to week and had told him to be careful when giving interviews, but Phil is unrepentant. He makes no apologies for his bigoted and racist views, knowing that he has God on his side.
What is disconcerting about all this is that it seems a direct reflection of how many people think. Support has streamed in on facebook and other social network sites. He has also garnered the support of Sarah Palin and Fox News. His insidious remark about "singing and happy" cotton pickers fits right in with the Koch corporate view that persons are content just to have jobs. Who needs living wages, health care benefits and pension plans? You just hoe a straight row and that's a reward in itself.
Cable television has become complicit by making persons like Phil Robertson and Paula Deen overnight celebrities. As you might recall Paula not only used racially demeaning language but apparently stole recipes from her black employees. I'm sure Phil had a different view of cotton picking when he was working along side blacks in the field, assuming he ever did.
He hasn't always been a Bible-thumper. Apparently, he was into all that psychedelic shit before he found God, and the rest as they say is history. Now, he feels he should promote God and country every chance he gets and A&E graciously provides a platform.
Yea, I know these families are so damn likable, as Drew Magary notes, especially when they invite you into their homes and share a big repast and regal you in backwoods anecdotes and obscure Southern recipes, but that doesn't excuse their views. Unfortunately, the viewing public seems to be drawn to these dubious celebrities, thinking they are watching the "real thing."
It seems like we are not even one step removed from those halcyon days in the Land of Cotton, as these persons continue to represent religious conservative interests when they should know better. In the interview, Phil fomented on everything from the 2012 election to Obamacare, sounding like a politically paid spokesman for the Tea Party. I suppose he can always get a job at Fox News.