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Karen Bergreen

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Lame Duck

Posted: 12/23/2013 8:45 am

I have never watched Duck Dynasty. Until yesterday, I thought it was a program about a group of gay homeless men only to learn that it is about well-heeled homophobes. Moreover, it turns out that duck Patriarch Phil Robertson longs for the days of Jim Crow when "African Americans were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues."

The Internet is aflutter. Civil Rights groups are incensed that a family like this is given a huge media presence. Sarah Palin and her friends are talking about their amendments. They love their amendments--despite the fact that the first amendment isn't an issue here. Others are saying let the marketplace of ideas be the final adjudicator of Phil's media presence.

A&E suspended Phil Robertson for his comments. But surely, they knew that he believed that "homosexuals, like swindlers and the greedy weren't going to inherit the Kingdom of God." I mean, it has to have come up. How could it not have come up in four years?

If a cutting room floor still exists, my guess is that it is filled with statements similar to those Phil Robertson made to GQ. But part of Phil Robertson's personality is his religious intolerance. That the viewers have been shielded from it, quite frankly strips it of being a reality show.

So what are reality shows if not real? The Kardashians, the Housewives, the Jersey Shore, all these shows star fame-hungry but not necessarily talented individuals, and place them in wholly manufactured situation. And then they edit like crazy.

It's not so much reality as it is really terrible Improv. Perhaps there is a place for these people on television. But this murky purgatory of reality TV exposes nothing and introduces us to people who don't really exist. Phil Robertson the bigot might be an interesting study or stunning tribute to American ignorance and Kim Kardashian could be an admonition against or an advertisement for vapidity. If you are going to call your shows reality, they should at the very least be authentic.

 

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