Celebrity Outrage Fever!

I haven’t written anything for…oh….nearly four months now. This is inexcusable on my part.

But now? Time for some excuses!

Firstly, I went through a solid six week stretch where I was working 70ish hours per week. While I don’t regret it and will almost certainly do it again sometime soon, it’s exhausting. On every level. I was physically and mentally drained and just didn’t have it in me to sit in front of a computer and ramble for a couple thousand words or so.

Secondly, I occasionally have/do get moments of self doubt. I’m sure this happens to everybody who writes, be they a best selling author or a once in a while blogger. Putting yourself out there like this is SCARY, but it’s a good kind of scary. The kind that makes you know something is worth doing. I know that tonight, which is why I’m writing, but sometimes that fear is overpowering and it’s been happening a lot, particularly when my brain has been fried from all the work during the week.

That’s been more the case lately. I almost ended the hiatus a couple of weeks ago, for example, when Paul Walker died and people started complaining to Wheel of Fortune because of their “insensitivity” for using “The Fast And The Furious” as a puzzle answer during an episode taped MONTHS prior to Walker’s death but aired days AFTER his car accident. People were outraged. Outraged! This could not stand! They complained to Pat Sajak’s Twitter account! Pat Sajak apologized and said he felt “awful” about the timing, but it was a coincidence. Plus…y’know…how could he have possibly known that everyone with way too much time on their hands was going to gather together at once in order to complain about the audacity of using the title of a film a dead guy appeared in as the answer to the puzzle on a game show?

Paul Walker of course being the first movie star ever to die. Surely Wheel of Fortune has never used “Rebel Without A Cause” or “Citizen Kane” or “Casablanca” as the answer to a puzzle before, because those films all contain dead actors AND THAT WOULD JUST BE INSENSITIVE OF THEM AND WE’RE ALL HYPER SENSITIVE THESE DAYS! Don’t you know that, Sajak?!

ANYWAY, I bit my tongue on that. After all, my last blog had been about fake outrage and I didn’t want to repeat myself. Plus, I told myself, “People don’t really have any reason to care what you have to say, Adam. It’s very nice that some of them do, but no need to get up on your high horse over and over on the same subject.” I made a good point that day. Repetition is bad, variety keeps things fresh and interesting. But the “why should they care about what I’m writing about” doubts remained. And still do, to a degree.

But then this week, everybody started up the phony outrage machine again about some guy on a duck show. Repetition be damned, inhibitions be damned, I cannot keep this one bottled up, so consider this my return.

There’s a reality show on the A&E Network called Duck Dynasty. I know of many people who enjoy it and it’s apparently quite popular. Let me be completely up front and say that I’ve never seen it once and really have no intention to. It’s about a bunch of guys who make duck calls for a living and hunt ducks and live outdoors, which is all well and good. Just not my cup of tea. The leader of the family is a guy named Phil Robertson. I’d guess he’s somewhere in his 60s and runs the duck call company. Right? Let’s go with that. It’s irrelevant to this post.

What I’ve learned this week is that Phil Robertson is a white male in his mid 60s who is an ultra religious millionaire businessman from the Deep South who apparently doesn’t think too highly of gay people.

Shocking.

I just….where do I even start?

Phil was giving an interview to GQ magazine when he was asked about gays, blacks and I don’t even know what else. He gave some answers about gay people which are just bizarre (and getting all the attention) and blacks that are just abhorrent and not getting nearly as much attention.

Why do we care what the Duck man thinks?

The people on the left side of the political aisle are up in arms because he compared homosexuality to bestiality. Equal sins in God’s eyes, he said. Once people got mad about this, A&E listened and suspended him for violating their code(s?) of conduct. The people on the right side of the aisle became furious because he was only expressing what’s in the Bible and he has a right to free speech which is protected by the Constitution.

Let’s break this down.

Firstly, the people on the left need to calm down. Because, frankly. many of you are educated people who can make a good guess at the political/moral views of an ultra religious white man from the Deep South. He’s entitled to his opinions (abhorrent as they may be) and no amount of outrage sent his way is going to change them at this point in his life. That’s reality. Personally, I think his views could not be much farther away from my own. In the Bible I read as a kid, Jesus preached tolerance, love, and kindness towards your neighbors, no matter who they may be. Somewhere in there is a line about he who is without sin casting the first stone.

In his own eyes, Phil Robertson must be without sin.

Secondly, the people on the right need to calm down. The Duck man’s being suspended from his job isn’t an attack on religion or your beliefs or on you as a human being. A&E is a company and Duck Dynasty is a television show. It’s also a highly profitable business venture OF A&E. Yes, they are glad to have a large, base audience who will tune in no matter what, but they would love nothing more than every eyeball in North America to be tuned in to every new episode of Duck Dynasty. They’ll make more money, they’ll invest in more shows and you’ll get more things to watch. Win-win-win.

Now, does Phil Robertson have a freedom of speech? Absolutely. It’s in the Constitution. First amendment, actually.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”

Congress.

Again. Congress.

NOT the A&E Network. The founders were good, the men involved in writing the Constitution were very smart and forward thinking, but not a single one of them could possibly have seen the A&E Network coming.

The A&E Network is a private entity which has the right to set personal conduct standards as they see fit. Phil Robertson and the rest of the Duck Dynasty family all certainly had to sign contracts saying that they would not say or do anything to besmirch the network’s good name, since that may (or in this case, almost certainly will) keep viewers away from the A&E Network, which will cost them money and hurt their business. The Robertsons are business owners. They understand that you need customers. They shouldn’t be at all surprised by his suspension from the show.

What they should be surprised by is the fact that a writer from a major magazine like GQ was taking time to ask the leader of a duck call company what he thinks about gay marriage, civil rights and other important political issues of his time.

Actually, scratch that. The writer from GQ asked him about these things because he thought that people would care. Or that the Duck man would make some controversial remarks and people would buy more magazines in order to read his controversial remarks.

GQ was clearly right on that one.

What should surprise the writer, the Robertsons and every thoughtful human being on Earth is that so many people are so wrapped up in celebrity life that they care what the Duck man has to say about political issues. Of course, this is a problem on both sides of the aisle. Leonardo DiCaprio gets asked about renewable energy. Movie stars, comedians, other TV actors get asked all the time for their opinions on hot button issues. I doubt this is anything new, but it’s definitely become more widespread as our definition of what a celebrity is has expanded vastly over the past 5-10 years or so.

The fact is, if the Duck Dynasty team never makes another show, your life will go on. The reruns are widely available to tide you over and surely someone is developing a show about Roof Shinglers Of The Upper Midwest as we speak which will fill the void they leave nicely.

(Note to self: Call Hollywood in the morning. Pitch a reality show about roof shinglers of the Upper Midwest.)

If Phil Robertson is suspended for a while? THIS ALSO HAS NO IMPACT ON YOU. He’ll lose some income from the show but he’ll gain it back from his books, T-Shirts, duck calls, sock puppets and whatever else they sell with the Duck Dynasty logo attached to it. But that’s his problem, not yours.

Freedom of speech is a great thing, but again, it really only grants us the right to trash the government without fear of reprisal. That’s all that is written into the first amendment. While it’s also great that we have the technology available in which we can debate the merits of any particular comment at any particular time, it doesn’t mean you can go to work tomorrow, stand on the break room table and yell your views about gays or black people.

You know what? Actually? Some of you should try that tomorrow. Let me know how that works.

The most important facts in this whole controversy? Let me count them down from two to one.

2. Black people didn’t have it easy in the South for, oh, 200 years or so. They just didn’t. They still don’t in a lot of ways. The 1760s weren’t easy, the 1860s weren’t easy, the 1960s weren’t easy and the 2060s probably won’t be easy. Nothing a duck commander says is going to revise that history.

1. Gay people exist. They have always existed and will never stop existing. You can point to the Bible for evidence that God hates this and thinks it’s an abomination as much as you’d like, but science would beg to differ with that section of the Bible. Gay males didn’t wake up when they were 12 and think “You know what? I like boys!” any more than straight males woke up one morning and think “You know what? I like girls!” They just did.

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. We have so many more important problems in this country and this world than arguing over who people love. We have many more important problems than worrying about what the star of a reality TV show says about anything. Whichever God you might believe in, I can guarantee that they’ll take care of judging the sins of your neighbors and the citizens of your country whenever that time might come.

But for now? While you’re still down here on Earth?

Worry about what your parents think. Worry about what your teachers say. Worry about your goals and dreams and how you’re going to reach them. Worry about working hard and living your life in the best way possible so that you can do whatever you can to make your world better than you found it the day before.

That’s what’s important. That’s what will always be important. Your life belongs to you.

It certainly doesn’t need to be impacted by anybody on cable.

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4 Responses to Celebrity Outrage Fever!

  1. Melissa (who is not angry or yelling at you, I just can't control tone!) says:

    While I get your drift, telling folks to calm down about social justice issues always rubs me wrong. Likely due to it being the rallying cry of folks who are anti-feminist. Women are told, far too often, to calm down. Or that it’s just a joke. Or that we’re manufacturing outrage over nothing. So, that’s my kneejerk and my explanation of it. LOL.

    The fact is, writing bigotry off as just a Southern religious white dude thing and acting like it’s not ever going to change because history, isn’t helpful. He said some things that were abhorrent. There are likely loads of people living in the South who deal with that sort of attitude constantly. And they feel alone, they feel afraid, they feel like no one can possibly be out there who gets it and who would be kind. For those people, it is important that this backlash happened. For people stuck in those pockets of stupid, seeing other people rally in their defense? That matters. If even one person realizes that no, not everyone hates them or wishes them ill because of who they love, then the outrage is worthwhile.

    Also, I’m a big fan of publicly shaming bigots and assholes. It’s NOT okay to say things like that, history and culture be damned. Just going “eh, Southern redneck, what ya gonna do?” won’t move things forward. I think it’s easy to be like “oh, this isn’t a huge deal” coming from a privileged perspective (and I’m right there with you as a cisgendered, hetero white girl). If you look at what Phil wrote on his FB about this, as a Southern born gay man, I think you’ll see a different perspective. :)

    Agreed on the game show bit, though. FFS. What the hell?! Also agreed on the “freedom of speech” bits. Folks really don’t understand how that works at all, I’ve found.

    • adamws54 says:

      Legit points, all. I just get so sick of giving these uneducated ignorant people a giant microphone with which they can express their uneducated, ignorant views about any number of issues. Yes, of course, I shouldn’t be sweeping gay equality under the rug, nor do I intend to as I know you’re aware. I’m just saying people should look at the source, ignore it in kind, and live their own lives as best they can without stopping to care what a reality tv star has to say about anything. Instead, the way this problem gets better is for people like you and me and countless others to lead by example and show that his way of thinking is wrong and will always be wrong. He’s not going to change, but the world is and will continue to so long as our generation keeps doing what we’re doing.

  2. Ed Cates says:

    I gave up blogging when I realized mostly I was just ranting about stupid things. Not stupid as in “trivial and inconsequential,” but stupid as in, “this is so dumb and ignorant it hurts and makes the world worse.” It was poisoining my hypothetical soul.

    Much like this Redneck McDucklover (that’s the polite term) brouhaha. I want to ignore it, but the sheer, overwhelming wall of ignorance sucked me in today. Then when I realized that NEW founts of ignorance were spawning from sources who don’t have access to the Internet at work, I gave up. I’m one person. I can’t tilt all those windmills.

    So I left one big final status message, which is my penultimate thought on the matter. I share it with you here because I think you’re groovy, and I feel it meshes well with what you’ve said. Think of it as a premeditated, “Yeah! What he said!” remark.

    “1) Phil Robertson is, by definition, a bigot. He’s entitled to be that way, and you’re entitled to agree with him. But let’s all own up to what we’re dealing with here. EVEN IF you find him entertaining, the dude’s still a bigot.

    2) What he said was vile and disrespectful to a large group of people. Whether or not you agree with him does not change that. He doesn’t get to pretend like it’s all okay just by tacking a belated, “…but I respect everyone!” onto the end of that. No dude, you obviously don’t.

    3) Claiming he’s just following the Bible is a cop-out. He picks and chooses what teachings of the Bible he wants to follow as his moral code, just as you or I do. His bigotry happens to align with some passages of scripture, so he’s using Jesus as a shield to try and rally people to defend him. He is not being persecuted for being a conservative Christian. He’s being suspended from work and roundly criticized for being an outspoken bigot.

    If you think “conservative Christian” and “bigot” are synonymous, that’s your own issue to deal with.

    4) No one is violating his First Amendment rights. He is still guaranteed the right to say whatever he pleases, just as you or I are. He also has the right to be canned by his bosses if he embarrasses them, just as you or I do.”

  3. speedbear35 says:

    What, in your mind, is sinful?
    “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.”
    Read More http://www.gq.com/entertainment/television/201401/duck-dynasty-phil-robertson#ixzz2o2OR2XZc

    As far as Phil is concerned, he was literally born again. Old Phil—the guy with the booze and the pills—died a long time ago, and New Phil sees no need to apologize for him: “We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus—whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?”
    Read More http://www.gq.com/entertainment/television/201401/duck-dynasty-phil-robertson#ixzz2o2PLZGdY

    1st I believe you said you read the Article. I just read it myself and I don’t honestly see what all the outrage is about. He was asked what he believed sins were and in his mind Homosexuality is a sin. He does not say that Homosexuality is bestiality he does not say that he is not a sinner, in fact he says he is a sinner and will let God sort it out. He will love all yet encourage others to accept Jesus. I honestly imagine if Phil Robertson met a Gay person he would treat them like every other human being on earth.

    Phil On Growing Up in Pre-Civil-Rights-Era Louisiana
    “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
    Read More http://www.gq.com/entertainment/television/201401/duck-dynasty-phil-robertson#ixzz2o2Nq1Az5

    2nd His comments from the article that talked about black people were not as bad as I was anticipating either. He said basically since he grew up “white-trash” he grew up with those same poor enslaved black people and to him they seemed happy. He made his way out of that gutter by accepting Jesus. I mean of course he is looking at with a closed mind but in his tiny world he didn’t noticed the atrocities.

    Ok there you have it folks. My views.

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