The REAL Reason Behind A & E’s Suspension of Phil Robertson

Originally I was hesitant to comment on the recent suspension of Robertson family patriarch Phil Robertson, by A& E network because of comments he made regarding homosexuality in an interview with GQ Magazine.  My thought was that so many bloggers, reporters and media outlets would be covering it, that I didn’t feel my opinion was warranted or needed but then I started thinking about the reasons why A & E suspended the Duck Dynasty star.

Originally I thought it was another main-stream attack against Southern heritage. Everyday the internet, television and newsprint carries a report from somewhere across America in which a student gets suspended for wearing Confederate themed clothing, or a school is renamed because it was originally named after a prominent Confederate or a park is renamed because it honors Confederate history.

All of these things are happening throughout the South and throughout America for that matter so it isn’t outlandish to conclude that pressure was applied to A & E for featuring a prosperous Southern family’s success story.

To a certain extent , I believe that the above reasons were a factor in the media’s criticism of Phil Robertson.  Phil expressed traditional Southern values of which Christianity is deep rooted in the culture of the Bible belt but as I dug deeper into this story the main reason for Robertson’s suspension is far less complex.

USA Today.Com featured an article about Robertson’s departure and in it one will find THE reason for the attacks against Robertson:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. Ted Cruz are defending Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson’s free speech rights and decrying the backlash over the reality TV star’s anti-gay comments.

STORY: Palin rallies fans with ‘Duck Dynasty’ defense

Robertson was put on “indefinite hiatus” by A&E from the hit reality show after making anti-gay remarks in GQ magazine. The hit show about a Louisiana family — known for its Duck Commander hunting call — draws an average of 14 million viewers each episode.

Undoubtedly Duck Dynasty has become the highest rated television show in cable television history.  Just who would have a problem with something so popular?

The first to complain was GLAAD which describes itself as: “the communications epicenter of the LGBT movement, equipping advocacy leaders with the tools they need to communicate more effectively. GLAAD is also reinventing the way social media moves equality forward.” Stated on it’s website that:

GQ Magazine’s profile of Phil Robertson included some of the vilest and most extreme statements uttered against LGBT people in a mainstream publication. His quote was littered with outdated stereotypes and blatant misinformation.

“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.

And later in the article:

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. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

…GLAAD reached out to A&E to speak about if the network stands behind Robertson’s comments.”

The rest as they say, is history.  A & E network released a statement in response to GLAAD’s complaints which read as follows:

“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,” A&E parent A+E Networks said in a statement obtained by E! News.

“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.”

Is all of this really about theLGBT community being offended at the remarks made by Phil Robertson in GQ magazine or is all of this because of something more trivial?

Ten years ago there was another television program that was a surprise cable success, its subject matter far from the South or duck hunting. 2003 was the year that “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” appeared on the Bravo television channel.  According to Wikipedia.Com:

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy debuted on July 15, 2003 and the series quickly attained high ratings, peaking in September of that year with 3.34 million viewers per episode.[8] The popularity of the show established the Fab Five as media celebrities, with high-profile appearances at the Emmys and a “make-better” of Jay Leno and his The Tonight Show set in August of that year.[9] Fab Five members parlayed their celebrity into endorsement deals, notably Thom Filicia’s becoming the spokesperson for Pier 1 Imports.[10][11]

The American gay press almost universally hailed the show and the Fab Five as cultural icons. Out magazine listed the Fab Five in its “OUT 100”, the “greatest gay success stories” of 2003.[12] Instinct magazine declared Kressley one of the “Leading Men” of 2004.[13]

The series attracted criticism for making generalizations about sexual identity, namely that gay men are inherently more fashionable and stylish than heterosexuals.[14] Among those making this critique were Tom Shales in the Washington Post (“stereotypes on parade”), Richard Goldstein in Village Voice (“Haven’t fags always been consigned to the role of body servant?”) and United States Congressman Barney Frank speaking to the New York Post (“The notion that gay men have a superior fashion sense is not true and it’s damaging. It’s perfectly possible to enjoy that show and say, look at those clever homosexuals. What they do with hair! And not support gays at all.”).[15] Anthropologist Lionel Tiger described the program as typical of a widespread acceptance of insulting heterosexual men: “Heteromales are the last group it is acceptable to bash as a class. The homosexual fellows on Queer Eye seem to provide riveting hilarity to especially female viewers. What if there were 5 Swedes telling Kenyans how to live elegantly and fashionably? What if 5 Catholics told Jews how to dress, decorate, and court? The program is degraded and degrading, Cheap Shots for A Humiliated Guy.”[16]

With the success of the first season, original “culture guy” Blair Boone sued the show for breach of contract, claiming he should be paid not just for two episodes but for the season that he had been contracted to film.[17]

The popularity of the series inspired a number of parodies. Comedy Central hosted a satirical television series called Straight Plan for the Gay Man, which featured four heterosexual men teaching gay men how to be more (stereotypically) straight, redecorating their homes with neon beer signs and teaching them about sports. South Park spoofed the show and its hosts in the episode “South Park Is Gay!“, in which the protagonists learn that the Fab Five are actually evil Crab People trying to take over the world by turning all straight men into metrosexuals.

Queer Eye won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality Program in 2004 and was nominated for another Emmy in the same category in 2005. The series also received GLAAD Media Awards for Outstanding Reality Program in 2004 and 2005, and was nominated for a third in 2006.

In the second season, ratings dropped sharply, averaging around 1.8 million viewers per episode with an average 804,000 viewers in the important 18-40 demographic.[8][15] New episodes continued to air for two more seasons. Bravo confirmed in early 2007 that Queer Eye had been cancelled. The remaining fifth season episodes were billed as Queer Eye: The Final Season[18] and aired twice weekly beginning October 2, 2007.[19]

This partial summary from Wikipedia is interesting for a couple of reasons.  The first one being that at the high point in its popularity “Queer Eye” achieved 3.4 million viewers per episode during it’s first season ( a far cry from Duck Dynasty’s 14 million weekly viewers ) and that this number dropped to just over 800,000 viewers per episode in its second season ( a really far cry from Duck Dynasty’s 14 million viewers per week).

The second most interesting fact from the Wikipedia article summary of the show is the fact that “Queer Eye” faced criticism from within the LGBT  community itself.

This begs the question; Is the LGBT community really going to be happy with anything on television when a show that prominently featured five gay men in a positive light draws such criticism?

A second ( and perhaps more important) question would be; Does this negatively affect the credibility of groups like GLAAD when they complain about men like Phil Robertson?

Interesting facts can also be found in an online article published by Entertainment Weekly about the 10 year reunion of the “Queer Eye” cast. One of the more interesting portions of the article reads as follows:

Ten years ago, the concept of the show was groundbreaking,” said Thom Filicia, the Queer Eye‘s interior design expert. “Today, it’s not so groundbreaking…. First of all, gay rights are just a different thing. Today, I think with television and media, there are so many characters. It’s just so different. At the time, it was not nearly as advanced as it is now in terms of people understanding it, and being connected with it. Certainly we brought that to the forefront on television, and I think that today if we were doing that, it’d feel a little passé.”

“It helped everyone to understand that gay folks are just like everybody else,” said Douglas. “And, even now, it almost sounds weird to say that. It’s become such a non-issue that to even say something like that sounds weird. That’s how much the times have changed.”

And yet, complex representations of LGBT characters are still lacking. Currently, 3.3 percent of primetime scripted series regulars on broadcast television are LGBT, according to GLAAD‘s “Where We Are on TV Report” for 2013. That’s down from 4.4 percent last year.

So according to the cast of “Queer Eye” things have changed so much in the past 10 years that being Gay is a non-issue. Perhaps GLAAD was a victim of “Queer Eye’s” success.

One of the themes that is most echoed by groups like GLAAD is a call for the LGBT  community to be treated just like anyone else.  When “Queer Eye” debuted , it was new, it was a novelty of sorts , it was different and people were curious.  Groups like GLAAD wanted to normalize the members of their community and to a large part those efforts were successful. No one is curious anymore which might explain why “complex representations” of LGBT community are “lacking” and decreasing percentage wise on television.

Perhaps GLAAD’s real problem with Phil Robertson’s views has less to do with his belief that homosexuality is a sin. Perhaps GLAAD’s real “sin” problem is one of envy, stemming from the fact that despite all of the success of “Queer Eye” in 2003 , far more American’s would rather watch duck  hunting Christian Southerners ten years later.- Editor

About aldermanlacy

I am just an average blue collar American who works hard and tries to be a good dad. I have a passion for history, music and freedom.

4 Responses to “The REAL Reason Behind A & E’s Suspension of Phil Robertson”

  1. So it was the anti-gay remarks and not the racist ones that got him suspended? Looking for a statement from A&E to make sure.

  2. Freedom of speech our right as americans just as it is our right to either believe in God to Worship God to live our lives in sin or to live our lives to do our best each day to help one another I personally could care less what the gay or lesbian community does they made their choice but they should tread lightly when they form opinions and cry wolf to get attention from the mainstream of society America is founded on freedom of speech we should live each day as if it were our last and my choice is that I am ready if the world ends tomorrow I choose eternal life in heaven over eternal damnation in Hell food for thought right remember in school the pledge of allegiance , the lords prayer , I attended Catholic school as a child then mainstreamed into public school Church every wed and sunday vacation bible school in the summer it was a foundation that stays with you great presidents, leaders ,powerful and Godly men have led this nation and its work force ,military ,made decisions to keep us safe from harm we elected them followed their decisions good bad or indifferent but this lashing out on a Godly man is really a cry for help from the weak the ones with no direction other than instant gratification whether it be sexual, monetarily, whatever the reason it still will never be good enough live life treat others just like you want to be treated and see what happens

  3. I am tired of being PC if you have a personal system of beliefs you can’t express them freely in America without being the object of ridicule and judgment . This is a reversal of all Americans have worked and struggled to have a freedom of expression and a freedom of beliefs with no threat of judgment or punitive action. Where are we headed?

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