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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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In Movies & TV Commentary

Phil Robertson of "Duck Dynasty" on A&E has been suspended for homophobic statements made to GQ.

"Duck Dynasty" woes highlight larger TV issue


It has been interesting watching the news coverage of the "Duck Dynasty" controversy over the last 48 hours.

On Wednesday, A&E, which airs the cable reality series "Duck Dynasty," announced that the father of the family, Phil Robertson, would be suspended from the hit cable show. The suspension came days after GQ published a report timed to highlight the show's return on Jan. 15.

In the GQ report, Robertson was quoted as saying:

"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."

GQ's print edition featuring the article and the anti-homosexual and racist comments hasn't hit the stands yet. GQ purposely released this article early to help drive up interest and sales. Business-wise, this was a great move for GQ.

After reading Robertson's comments, and seeing the building outrage on social media outlets, A&E offered this response to Entertainment Weekly:

"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."

There are plenty of reasons that A&E needs the show to continue. The main one is the bottom line, as "Duck Dynasty" has become the most watched show ever on the network. The family reportedly receives $200,000 per episode and the show boasts a fan base of more than 14 million viewers.

Those watching the series will continue to see the other family members as A&E hopes to continue to make millions of dollars on the show.

A&E also released a statement from Robertson:

"I myself am a product of the '60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior.

"My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together. However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other."

After the initial fallout, and statements, there is another movement to support Robertson in an effort to keep him on the show.

"Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal weighed in on the network's decision to suspend the show's patriarch, The Washington Times reported. Jindal reportedly said, "… a messed-up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended."

Independent reporter Ben Swann reported that a "Stand With Phil" Facebook Page created by Grassfire, a conservative action network, has received almost 600,000 new fans in less than 48 hours. The group is also circulating a petition, to be delivered to A&E, in support of Robertson. According to a Grassfire employee, the petition has more than 40,000 signatures.

People will mention free speech, a Constitutional protection that Phil Robertson certainly has. As a journalist, I am eternally grateful for the men and women who have sacrificed and fought to give our generation and future ones this right.

But people forget that, "with great power, comes great responsibility."

Robertson is an at-will employee for a production company that puts together the show and then sells it to A&E. The network has the right refuse the show being offered by the production company. The production company, in fear of losing its ability to sell more shows to A&E and other networks, has the right to hire or fire any of the cast members on its show.

But there is a larger issue in television. In our society, we like to celebrate celebrities' wins, and we are quick to dismiss them for the next best thing when we are ready to move on. Too often television networks and production companies put too much work and faith in the person they build everything around.

When there is a misstep by that person, everything seems to fall apart around them.

Talkbacks

TosaJim | Dec. 24, 2013 at 10:19 a.m. (report)

Oh look...4 days later and the Duck Dynasty promotional juggernaut is going crazy....clothing items are flying off the shelves....every news outlet is talking about Duck Dynasty....as I said earlier...this was all orchestrated for free publicity. You's think the public would wise up to this ploy...oh wait...they actually watch Duck Dynasty...my bad.

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TosaJim | Dec. 20, 2013 at 7:34 a.m. (report)

This is just a publicity ploy...they are getting national coverage and who could possibly be offended by what this redneck hillbilly has to say?

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