So the Duck Dynasty Douchebag, as I have been referring to Phil Robertson, is back and so is the show on A&E after a 9-day “indefinite” suspension that skipped over all the usual elements that surround such situations. This is what I wrote in a private Facebook group on Dec. 19:
I highly doubt that Duck Dynasty is going to be canceled. As usually happens, the offender will go through a series of public genuflections and pretend that they’ve really truly changed their ways and learned their lesson. There’s too much money at stake. A&E makes massive amounts of money from the show.
But I was wrong. There was no genuflecting. There wasn’t even a hint of remorse or contrition, no public rituals of the sort engaged in by Michael Richards, Tracy Morgan and countless other celebrities who had said bigoted things in public. There were no meetings between high-level gay rights leaders and Robertson, no counseling sessions, not even a classic “to anyone who was offended by my words” not-pology. Neither Robertson nor his family even pretended to give a damn about what anyone thought of what he said. But A&E says that’s good enough for them:
Little more than a week after it suspended “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson for incendiary remarks about homosexuality, the cable channel A&E said Friday that it would include him in future tapings of the reality television show, effectively lifting the suspension amid a flurry of petitions in support of Robertson.
“After discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming Duck Dynasty later this spring with the entire Robertson family,” the channel said in a statement…
In an apparent gesture to the advocacy groups, A&E said that it would “also use this moment” to broadcast public service announcements “promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people.”…
Inside A&E, a sudden end to “Duck Dynasty” was never seriously contemplated. The show is enormously profitable for A&E and, executives there pointed out in private, for the Robertsons, too. (Any shopper strolling through Walmart, where the aisles are stocked with “Duck Dynasty” gear, would recognize that.)
But A&E executives felt they had to send a message of disapproval after seeing Robertson’s comments to GQ, partly because some of the channel’s own staffers were offended by the interview. The suspension announced on December 18 sent that message — and shortly thereafter, the channel and the Robertsons’ representatives started to discuss a path forward.
“We knew we had a great partnership with the family,” said an A&E executive on condition of anonymity because the channel and the family had agreed not to say anything publicly aside from Friday’s statements.
Talks between the two sides took place on Christmas Eve, paused on Christmas, and resumed on Thursday, leading to Friday’s announcement.
It was immediately perceived as a victory by some of the conservative groups that had protested the suspension. One headline on the influential Drudge Report on Friday evening was “A&E CAVES,” another read, “Gay Activists Group Delivered Stinging Defeat.”
They’re right. It is a victory for them. All that happened was that they took a break for Christmas. But since they already had a season’s worth of shows in the can, they weren’t going to be taping anyway until spring of 2014. Which means, in the end, that there were absolutely no consequences for anyone, only a public feint from A&E that they actually gave a shit. But that seems to be enough for the Human Rights Campaign, which has, as Andrew Sullivan has long pointed out, become mostly useless.
But some of the advocacy groups that were originally dismayed by Robertson’s depictions of homosexuality begged to differ.
“It’s not really a reversal,” Fred Sainz, a representative of the Human Rights Campaign, told CNN’s Brianna Keilar in a telephone interview on Friday. “We think it’s actually a positive outcome, and we want to thank A&E for their attentiveness and collaboration over the course of the last few weeks.”
Sainz said that his group was “heartened” by A&E’s plans for the public service announcement. campaign. A spokesman for A&E declined to comment on whether Robertson or other “Duck Dynasty” cast members would participate in the campaign, but the channel is said to be hopeful that at least some of the cast members will.
“We’ve received assurances also that the Robertson family is now open to working with African-American and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people to address the real harm that such anti-gay and racist comments can cause,” Sainz said on CNN. “That’s been our ‘ask’ since Phil’s comments ran in GQ, and while it’s a positive step, it certainly cannot and should not be the last one.”
Let me translate that for you: “Thank you sir, may I have another? Thank you sir, may I have another?” This is not a positive outcome for the cause of equality, it’s a resounding defeat for it. The public rituals of contrition and self-flagellation that celebrities typically go through when they do something like this are usually fake, but even those were avoided here. HRC got played and they’re dishonestly declaring it a victory. How pathetic.