Snowed Over by the Beards?

I have a confession to make. I watch ‘reality’ TV. I watch Duck Dynasty. I find the show to be entertaining, and even though I’m not a religious person, I’m not offended by the fact that they put their religious beliefs out there on the show. Most times I feel like the message brought across is that we should keep our families close, appreciate what we have, and basically try to do the right things. Notice that I emphasized try there. I believe we live in a world where as much as we’d like to think the rules of right and wrong and good or bad are fully formed and written in stone. If you really look around though, can you find any proof that this is true? People’s beliefs and environments will always blur the lines of what’s right and wrong. Do I agree with what Phil Robertson said? No, I don’t. Do I believe that he has a right to express his opinion? Yes he does. Does it make sense to me that A&E would react the way they did? Yes and no. A&E has a responsibility to advertisers and shareholders. In our overly litigious, ‘politically correct’ country anything that could stand out as controversial tends to be dealt with in the strictest manner possible in order to keep from offending any of our fragile sensibilities. God forbid anyone ever be offended, and if I am offended I will sue your ass off! No large corporation or small mom and pop business wants to be embroiled in controversy that could hurt the bottom line. With all that being said, I wonder if there’s not something more to this story though. Rumor has it that Phil was reluctant to even be a part of Duck Dynasty from the start and has wanted to remove himself for the last year. Anyone who has walked into a Walmart, Walgreen’s, Target, or just about any retailer in the last year would have trouble missing the fact that Willie Robertson, or someone he’s working with, is a marketing genius. For all of the ‘aww shucks’ redneck comedy of Duck Dynasty, there is serious marketing going on in every episode. Willie has a business degree and was able to turn a small regional niche company into a multi-million dollar juggernaut, and that was before A&E and Walmart joined the fold. Is letting Phil, who has reportedly bashed gays in his church and the public for awhile, talk to a reporter from GQ Magazine, who should be assumed would broach the subject of Phil’s feelings about gays, (Why in the Hell is GQ talking to the Robertsons anyway?) a way to keep Duck Dynasty in the news while on hiatus, as well as let Phil have a reason to leave the show? The Robertsons have come out and stated that they can’t imagine continuing the A&E show without Phil as a part of it. Is this a bargaining tool for Willie to make a more lucrative deal with a competing network? I’m reasonably sure that A&E knows what a valuable commodity Duck Dynasty is (reportedly the highest rated cable series in history), but pretty much every company is going to try to negotiate the best deal for their side, it’s just good business. Did A&E try to lowball Willie and the gang into a new, less than favorable contract while they still had some leverage? We may never know the whole story here, but my feeling is that Willie is a shrewd business man who knows a little bit about marketing a product to the rest of the country that isn’t LA or NYC, meaning the rest of us who’s lives aren’t glamorous and champagne filled. He has been able to sell an idea that any good ‘ol redneck can be a captain of industry if you just work hard, love your family, and love God. Seems like he knows how to touch the right chords with most of America. I predict this is far from the last time we’ll be talking about Duck Dynasty.