Phil Robertson occupies a lonely spot in pop-culture tempests now that A&E has booted the patriarch of the Duck Commander empire from his own family’s TV series. For anyone who has watched Duck Dynasty for more than a few episodes, Robertson’s remarks in GQ should come as no shock. The greater surprise is that the cultures of A&E and Duck Dynasty did not clash much earlier.
A&E’s swift expulsion of the grizzled patriarch in essence kills the series, if the Robertsons stay true to their familial loyalty. In an interview filmed at Oklahoma Christian University in March, second-born Jase Robertson described overhearing an A&E cameraman predict that the series would tear the family apart. That test is now in overdrive, under the unblinking eye of pop culture’s celebrity-industrial complex.
Once the Robertsons have sorted through contractual fine print with A&E, they have a ready alternative runway in TheBlaze TV. Glenn Beck has issued repeated invitations to the Robertsons on his morning radio show.
While Phil Robertson expressed himself bluntly, his remarks are tame compared to the shop talk within the transgressive sexual theater. He used no crude slang for body parts or for sexual congress, and no epithets for those who are attracted to the same sex. The harshest words he used in discussing sex were anus, bestiality, vagina, and not logical.
For this A&E has concluded that Robertson must be sent outside the camp of respectable thought. If the lives depicted on Duck Dynasty are any indication, Robertson will not lose much sleep about this exile being imposed on him. He may spend some extra hours shooting wildlife for his family’s meals. “Fame is fleeting,” his son Jase said repeatedly in his interview in Oklahoma.
So long as the Robertsons remember that, and honor their loyalty to one another, they can be the least troubled people in A&E’s theater of the absurd. After all, they have something more important to attend to: Christmas is in six days.