Bob Franken: A hard-duck story
There’s a possibility that just a few people are discussing how the “Duck Dynasty” family and maybe A&E network have just pulled off a public-relations coup.
Granted, my evidence is strictly anecdotal, based on the personal experience of ... well ... me. I had never watched the show before now, but the moment father duck Phil Robertson made his comments to GQ about gays and blacks that are so ridiculous they could only be meant as farce, I made it a point to watch.
Folks, it is very funny. Obviously it’s a parody, one that mocks rednecks. What makes it clever is the way it doesn’t really insult anyone, even those who fancy themselves part of that subculture. Well, at least it didn’t, until Robertson burst through the O (for Offensive) Zone with his responses to questions about gays. Try this on for size as he’s describing his view of what the Bible says about sin: “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.” There’s more, but it gets pretty graphic, so as the cliche goes, we won’t “go there.”
Just to make sure he had pushed a few more buttons, Robertson weighed in on how the Jim Crow times weren’t so bad, that the blacks he saw were “singing and happy.” For good measure, he added in a few offensive remarks about the Japanese.
Seriously: He can’t be serious. It’s just a slick promotion.
What’s even more cagey is the response from A&E. The network immediately announced that Old Man Duck is now on indefinite “hiatus.” Cue the uproar. Even though this is the most watched program on cable, millions more, like me, immediately, uh, flocked to watch. Brilliant! Phenomenal PR!
Suddenly, “Duck Dynasty” was lighting up the search engines. Gay-rights groups failed to see that this was satire, that no one could possibly mean something as stupid as what Robertson said.
Meanwhile, the crazies on the right also were adding to the din. Sarah Palin, a very successful parody herself, was front and center, taking to Facebook to accuse A&E of stifling free speech and to attack “Those intolerants hatin’.” When she drops her G’s, she’s definitely not funnin’ and this was her writin’, not speakin’. Her fellow conservative Ted Cruz jumped in, of course, so did Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, which is where “Duck Dynasty” is headquartered. Jindal stuck it to the “politically correct crowd” and even worked in a reference to Miley Cyrus, which was pretty creative. Jindal is not exactly a standup comic, so he was probably being his earnest self.
But this had to be a scam. The Ducksters are true hucksters. They are showing an amazing talent for self-promotion. Donald Trump would be proud. Come to think of it, why haven’t we heard from him? We will, and while we’re at it, isn’t this the time to look ahead and see how this can be turned into something even bigger.
Time’s a-wastin’ (it’s contagious): Duckman needs to talk about running for political office. How cool would it be to watch him joining the Republican presidential debates? And who knows? Maybe he’d take all the marbles with his appeal to the party base. You don’t get much basier than Phil Robertson. Or perhaps he can shoot a little lower and just run for Congress. He’d certainly be at home in the House.
Again, this is clearly a hoax. The first clue should have been where his comments appeared. Didn’t GQ used to be called “Gentlemen’s Quarterly?” Does that sound like the venue for Pappa Duck if he wanted to be taken seriously? No, this is obviously a well-organized lampoon. What’s scary is how we’ve been taken in. Nobody really thinks like that. Do they?
Bob Franken is a former CNN correspondent. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.