“We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”
Originally published at 1:20 P.M., December 18: We all know that "reality TV" isn't exactly...real. Networks look for characters that are slightly crazy and gimmicky enough to make headlines. Beyond that, it's up to the producers to turn the raw material into something borderline entertaining. Unlike, say, news anchors or spokespeople, these individuals aren't heavily vetted with respect to their views, their pasts, or their abilities. So, if they're a little bit controversial? All the better to film you for, my dear.
With that in mind, Phil Robertson of the A&E hit Duck Dynasty is under fire for some very offensive comments right now. Drew Magary got all too personal with the self-described "Bible thumpers" for GQ, and what happened shouldn't come as a surprise. In between musings on everything from creationism to squirrel meat, Robertson got down to his "controversial" views. You know, the kind of stuff that, much to his chagrin, gets edited out of most interviews. Lucky for him, GQ editors were light-handed with the copy, and this is the result: "Everything is blurred on what's right and wrong," he explains. "Sin becomes fine...start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men."
Continuing his track record of ridiculous comparisons, Robertson lumps "Nazis," "Shintos," "Communists," and "Islamists" into one group whose crimes can be attributed to a lack of Jesus' presence.
Don't worry, though! He's just being "logical." Among the aforementioned groups, he says, "just look at the records as far as murder goes." On the subject of "homosexual offenders," he's also got some cold, hard logic to back him up: “It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
Honestly, this is just the tip of the iceberg. He also includes completely clueless statements about how black people were totally fine and chill and singing in fields before they became entitled due to welfare (nope). The sad thing is that this will probably do nothing to decrease viewership; in fact, it might have the opposite effect. What these remarks can do, however, is remind us to be ever more wary of the glossing effects of fame.
We're all aware that the lives of Honey Boo Boo, Phil Robertson, and housewives across the country are not depicted with any more realism than those of Olivia Pope or Emily Thorne. But, this interview is a sobering reminder that there is a reality there, albeit hidden and veiled. That reality may be not so bad, or it may be sickeningly intolerant; either way, it is part of an America that we sometimes like to pretend doesn't exist anymore. The more "real" TV gets, it seems, the further backwards we go in our understanding and empathy of others.