Profit or Profess? Realities Collide When Duck Dynasty Meets GQ Magazine

Posted on December 26, 2013

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Public relations manipulation.

Last week I did a little random sampling of cable TV news shows as research into the biggest waterfowl-related scandal since Daffy and Donald were photographed topless in the August ’78 Outdoor Magazine, Duckgate, the Duck Dynasty/GQ story that only deaf/mute under-rock dwellers and Himalayan sherpas are unaware of at this point.

Not surprisingly, every one of the shows I sampled from FOX News to MSNBC to CNN etc, spent several minutes talking about remarks made by Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson to GQ reporter Drew Magary on gay people and pre-civil-rights era African Americans in the 1950’s Louisiana Delta.

When DD premiered I wrote a few blogs about the show but then, I must confess, after a few episodes the novelty of a hometown reality TV show faded and I stopped watching.

Duck Dynasty piqued my interest again and I found myself blogging about the show earlier this year when one of its stars was being bandied about as a possible congressional candidate – https://griffinscott.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/brilliant-marketing-bobby-jindal-duck-dynasty/ – and your humble correspondent called it a marketing scheme.

And once again I have to wonder if I’m watching the invisible hand of PR pros in this monster controversy thats put the DD clan on the world’s front page for almost two weeks now?

Make no mistake, whether you realize it or not, no matter how strongly you feel about what has transpired over the last few weeks, this is about marketing, advertising.

And as the hype builds, as the 5th season premiere of Duck Dynasty approaches on January 15th, I’m starting to wonder if we’re watching ‘scandal’ manufactured in an LA agency.

That’s LA as in Los Angeles, not Louisiana.

The headlines scream PHIL ROBERSTON FIRED! But, on January 15 2014 the DD patriarch will appear in the aforementioned 5th season. Every single episode.

I got fired from a TV job once, I never got to be on TV again after that.

A&E responded to the Gentlemen’s Quarterly issue with this statement on December 18th: “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. 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.”

A&E was so gosh-darned disappointed that a mere six days later, as other networks aired ‘A Christmas Story’ and ‘Its a Wonderful Life’ marathons, A&E aired 25 episodes of Duck Dynasty back to back, an 11 & 1/2 hour Christmas Day marathon featuring Phil Robertson and his family. Disappointed indeed.

And by disappointed indeed, I mean disappointed my butt.

Almost 12 million Americans tuned into the 4th season premiere of Duck Dynasty this past August, a record number for a cable television show. Note that I didn’t say a cable TV reality show, I said a cable television show. Period.

And that success is brimming over like a steaming bowl of duck soup, Duck Dynasty is so popular right now in fact, according to Billboard magazine – only Beyonce, Garth Brooks, Kelly Clarkson, R. Kelly and boy band One Direction sold more albums last week. Oh, didn’t you know? Duck Dynasty has a Xmas album. Their A&E Christmas special earlier this month pulled in 9 million viewers.

Forbes Magazine: ‘By the end of 2013, Duck Dynasty product tie-ins will have raked in a massive $400 million in revenues according to industry sources.’

Does anyone seriously believe A&E wants to kill that Golden Goo, err… duck?

But perhaps there is a little ‘La.’ in the mix after all because, appearances aside, Louisiana’s most famous family didn’t just fall off the turnip truck yesterday. Phil ‘Duck Commander’ Roberston was selling his image and lifestyle through hunting videos and personal appearances long before A&E introduced him to the non-hunting world. And beards and pick up trucks aside, he and his sons have a wall-full of college degrees between them.

The Roberstons of Duck Dynasty are a very media savvy family. In the same GQ article that sparked the firestorm Phil Robertson spoke of Duck Dynasty’s ‘shelf-life’; “Let’s face it,” he says. “Three, four, five years, we’re out of here. You know what I’m saying? It’s a TV show. This thing ain’t gonna last forever. No way.”

He’s right.
Think Paris Hilton, Jon & Kate + 8. Reality TV is the embodiment of Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame.
And everyone associated with Duck Dynasty from LA to La knows it.

In case you’d like to read it, here is the link to the GQ story – http://www.gq.com/entertainment/television/201401/duck-dynasty-phil-robertson?currentPage=2

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