Every time you see a Facebook status that reads, “I stand with Phil,” you have to wonder to yourself “Which bigoted remarks does this person stand with — the homophobic ones or the racist ones?”
When the Arts and Entertainment (A&E) Network indefinitely suspended Phil Robertson from the television series “Duck Dynasty,” on Dec. 18 for comments he made during an interview with GQ comparing homosexuality to bestiality and promiscuity, its actions ignited a fury of uproar across the nation of people touting that A&E was violating Robertson’s rights of freedom of speech.
But what A&E was doing was simply setting up the beginning of a brilliant marketing campaign in order to pull in more viewers.
During the premiere of the fourth season, the show broke cable viewing records when 11.77 million people tuned in. However, since the premiere, the ratings steadily declined each week and the season finale ended with 8.89 million viewers.
A&E seemed to be on the right track with the suspension when they released the following statement:
“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,’” the network stated. “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.”
But Robertson’s comments touched on more than homosexuality — he also stated that he never saw any mistreatment of any black person before the Civil Right’s era and that men should marry women when they’re 15 or 16, before they become interested in men for their money.
It should come as no surprise that an older southern, white gentleman from his background would have the beliefs that he does, however as a prominent television star, it is not even surprising that he would casually dismiss the feelings of such large groups of people and publically state his bigoted opinions for the whole country to hear.
It is also no surprise that there would be an uproar over his comments, that there would be an uproar over the uproar and that there would be an uproar over the uproar over the uproar.
What is surprising is that only 10 days after the suspension, A&E backtracked on their decision, and announced Robertson would be reinstated. That is, surprising only to those that do not understand how television profits work.
Not only did A&E take the opportunity to capitalize on the great political divide that is currently effecting America, but it also despicably capitalized on the oppression underrepresented groups have suffered and still suffer through today in this country.
Only time will tell if their great marketing plan paid out, but it will be a sad day in America and a huge step backward in this country’s movement toward progressive acceptance of a diverse culture if the viewers tune back in.
Shaunda Wickham is a senior majoring in mass communcations.