Now that fiscal sanity has returned to A&E and the powers that be have reinstated Phil Robertson to a reality show that was about him and his version of achieving the American Dream, more or less, it’s time to step back and take a realistic view of this particular salvo in the culture wars.
Plain and simple: traditional American conservatives who know the Bible, Natural Law and actually believe in their logicalness, along with the founding principles and documents of this country, have a lot of power when rallying around a single cause – and the people know how to make an impression by hitting the offenders where it hurts: the bottom line.
We’ve learned to interrupt the revenue stream.
As there are several times more conservatives than hard-core leftist culture warriors out there (GLAAD, NAMBLA, LBTG, etc.), this is not all that hard to do with the viral dissemination social media offers.
What is telling in the entire matter, though, is that the cultural right never seems to instigate any of the mini-battles that we’ve gotten so good at winning. In short – we’re playing defense. Damn good defense, but still defense.
This particular spat began with a network sponsored interview at a big-time magazine where Phil Robertson, famously a God-fearing man who lives by Biblical principles, was asked a question and answered it with Biblical points (which just so happen to reflect Natural Law, but we Catholics are the ones that usually stress that). This ticked off the gay lobby who want cake, to be able to eat it without gaining an ounce and get the recipe whether it is a family secret or not.
As always, the squeaky wheels got the oil and after some pretty self-serving pissing and moaning by the gay and lesbian crowd the Duck Commander was relieved of duty.
Little did the gay lobby know…
If it is true that the reason A&E produced Duck Dynasty to begin with was to create a show that objectified rednecks – just as the Duggers were objectified for having so many children and Honey Boo-Boo objectifies, well, whatever you want to call such folks – from that standpoint the show failed. The very people who make fun of Christian rednecks like the Robertsons don’t watch it. In fact, they won’t even consider watching it. Audiences looking for something clean and entertaining do.
There’s a lot of Americans in that category, and not all are the hard core Christian conservative sorts.
A good friend who happens to be a religious Jew went to see the new release “The Wolf of Wall Street” this week. Afterwards, she popped onto Facebook to basically complain that the rating was wrong. She objected to the sex and drugs not being reflected in “R”. (The name “Martin Scorsese” should have been a dead give-a-way, but sometimes liberals can be rather naive.) If my friend had known about the seamier side of the story, she would not have gone to see the movie.
My friend, this good religious Jewess who is pretty much your useful idiot kind of run of the mill liberal, wants her entertainment clean – no different than the conservatives who made Duck Dynasty the number one show on cable television. My friend is not very much into nature or hunting, but family values and Old Testament living, at least, are very important to her. (Her wedding dress was the most modest one I have seen on a bride in years.) That part of the Robertsons would appeal, even if cleaning fish and gutting ducks doesn’t. (Phil and Si need to blow up some more beaver dams. That’s what sold me on the show to begin with.)
The big lesson in the Duck Commander Affair (no, not THAT kind of affair. Those people would never consider it where they are at this time in their lives), is that in the push to be ever more edgy and “modern”, entertainment producers have forgotten the audience. If no one is going to rearrange their schedules to watch what is offered, it’s pretty worthless from a business perspective. Somebody has to pay to see the product or it’s not going to pay for itself.
As a classical musician, high art lover, and VERY committed Catholic, I will attest that the pricetag attached to everything in American life devalues high arts and entertainment, and makes its inspiration suspect since it’s expensive. It’s a sad commentary, especially since television and movies have gotten over the top raunchy.
That’s where playing defense when it comes to core American traditional values gets Christian conservatives behind the eight ball, culturally speaking. We aren’t creating our own entertainment at a rate to compete with the degenerates and drawing advertising dollars away from those networks. That’s what it is going to take to change the entertainment culture. None of the movie and television moguls quite understood why films like “The Passion of the Christ” and “My Big, Fat Greek Wedding” made as much money as they did.
Well, they are in willful denial, but they’ll never admit it.
We can talk all we want about fascism and denial of free speech rights, which was really not part of this episode as it was an employee/employer conflict, but the real truth is that the geniuses at A&E don’t know which side butters their bread.
Of course, these are the people who gave the Robertsons the rights to merchandising the title in the contract, so their business acumen is suspect anyway.
Now, if we conservatives can develop an arts and entertainment bench like the left has….