The news is splashed all over the Internet today about Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson’s homophobic and racist comments in the January 2014 issue of GQ. Huffington Post calls the comments “shockingly vile” in their headline, and for once, they don’t exaggerate. The article reveals for a larger audience much of what Phil’s sermon from 2009 already revealed years ago, even quoting the same Bible verses. The article supports my observation that Phil sees himself as part of an ordered universe in which man–and I mean man–is at the top of the natural order and all other creatures are placed at his disposal for his use. The denial of this order is what has caused all the problems of the world, and if people would simply repent, up to and including hunting for their own food, the world would be reordered.
Phil’s comments in the article are far more graphic than he would probably go into at one of his church gigs. He makes comparisons between the anus and the vagina as a location for sexual pleasure for men. He then goes on to compare homosexuality, at various points, to bestiality, alcoholism, and terrorism.
A few observations on the article:
- The innate hypocrisy of the Religious Right’s long-term obsession with homosexuality comes out in Phil’s comments. The author asks him, “What, in your mind, is sinful?” Phil answers, “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,” he says. So, according to Phil, homosexuality is a super-duper sin from which all others branch out. Much worse than the far more common sin of heterosexual adultery.
- In the article, Phil also admits to having beaten a man and his wife nearly to death in Arkansas during his pre-Christian hell-raising days. The author asks an obvious question, if Phil has ever repented or made amends for what he did: “I didn’t dredge anything back up, Phil says, I just put it behind me.” There does seems to be a tendency among some born-again Christians to see their sins as a “thing of the past.” Making amends means annoying everyone within earshot about the truth of their Gospel, not actually doing any of the hard work of reconciliation or peacemaking.
- Perhaps the most heartbreaking of Phil’s comments are his views about African-Americans in the South. Prior to the Civil Rights movement, Phil insists he “never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person.” I’m sure most whites in the segregated South didn’t see the mistreatment of black people. That was kinda the problem. He then lets forth with the current Great Lie of the Republican party’s Southern Strategy, that social welfare programs are primarily a wealth redistribution from hard-working whites to undeserving minorities. “Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy?” Phil says. “They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.” Perhaps Phil isn’t as smart as I thought.
None of these comments are all that surprising. Duck Dynasty is a show about lovably gruff backwoods hunters. But one doesn’t get lovably gruff hunters without the backwoods politics and religion that go with it. It’s disappointing to me that someone couldn’t muzzle Phil from expressing his more extreme beliefs. I thought the show had a unique ability to entertain Red State and Blue State viewers, but I’m afraid this may be the end of any cultural crossover appeal–and perhaps, if public outrage puts enough pressure on A&E, the end of the show. This would seem to be a situation in which reality has impeded on reality television.