The Great Courses

If It Walks Like A Duck...

Dec 22, 2013 at 8:49 AM
4 years ago

Recognize these folks?

duck dynasty without beards

You're looking at the Duck Dynasty family in 2001. ("Today" did a feature on this awhile back.)

Now, while everyone's wailing about the controversy in regard to Phil Robertson's recent comments in GQ Magazine, it might behoove the adoring DD fans to look beyond this controversy to ask themselves whether they've bought hook, line and sinker into this "real life" Beverly Hillbillies story.

Sure, the show has its charms. Sy makes me laugh out loud on occasion. And congrats to the family for their personal and professional success. But as much as any Christmas gift, the Robertsons have been packaged and marketed and sold and bought.

Underneath the camo and wading boots is a group of savvy businesspeople who found a marketable gimmick and ran with it. They're probably not wearing clothes as much as costumes, and at $400 million in worth (half of that coming outside of the Duck Commander line), it sounds like they played this hand quite well.

duck dynasty in camo

The plots are setups. The characters are scripted. And the end-of-show prayers are staged and carefully blocked and lit for the cameras. The placid scenes are those of a happy-go-lucky band of rednecks who share a family bond and extract as much joy as possible out of this crazy life. It's a Happy Happy Happy Ending every single week.

And even as the shows are different in content, they follow a standard and obvious template, branding Duck Dynasty as a blue collar Neverland.

And that's fine. Branding is part of commercial success, and unique brands are required to stick out.

phil robertson

But if the frothing public is going to prop Phil Robertson up as a first amendment martyr (he ain't) and a moral standard-bearer for Americans (he ain't), they might take a moment to look behind the duck blind and into the faces and lives of once-clean-cut, tanned, vanilla yuppies and ask themselves who the quacks truly are.

-Seth Andrews

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