2013-12-19 / Opinions

Judging from all their merchandise in stores, this must be the Christmas for Duck Dynasty

By KIP BURKE
news editor

I totally avoid doing any Christmas shopping in a Wal-mart, but I was dragged into one recently. Now I didn’t buy anything, but I did quickly find out what’s hot this year: anything, and I mean anything, that has Duck Dynasty on it.

Those camo-wearing, big-bearded, long-haired Robertson men stare at you from every aisle in the store. You can get their faces on Duck Dynasty blankets, t-shirts, and antibacterial wipes. You can get them on pillows, posters, and birthday-cake toppers. Retail experts say the Robertsons are expected to make $200 million off Wal-mart merchandise this season alone. Not bad for a bunch of country folks.

Now, if you’re new to Earth and you’ve never heard of Duck Dynasty and the Robertson family, you’re clearly not one of the 10 million Americans who watch the show religiously every Wednesday night. The A&E Channel show follows the Robertson family of West Monroe, Louisiana, who built a multi-million-dollar business with their hand-carved Duck Commander duck calls. The show revolves around the patriarch, Phil, his son the company CEO Willie, Willie’s brother Jase, and his other brother, Jep. The crowd favorite is Uncle Si, who craftily plays the crazy uncle to the hilt.

America seems to be in love with their downhome country way of living, and love to watch how they’re handling success with one foot in the swamp and one foot in a gated community. Their show is now the most-watched reality show on the air, and networks even find that re-runs are the most popular show in many places. A&E even offered a Thanksgiving marathon of every Duck Dynasty episode ever made, and those nearly-memorized episodes were on in millions of homes.

So it’s no wonder you can’t escape those bearded men when you shop this Christmas. You can find Duck Dynasty recliners just like Phil’s and Tupperware cups just like Uncle Si’s, and you can get a Duck Dynasty Chia pet to grow Willie a green beard. They’ve got Duck Dynasty books, calendars, school supplies, every product done up in camo, even the pink items for the girls. There are Duck Dynasty action figures, truck and toy sets, everything for boys big and small.

Oh yeah, they also sell duck calls, which is how this mess started. Those network executives thought the redneck success story of Phil Robertson’s Duck Commander hand-made duck-call business would make a great reality show. By great, of course, they meant that they expected the Robertson clan to be a bunch of knuckle-dragging, animal-shooting idiots, and their wives to be dumber and dumpier. What they got was a strong Christian family of smart, quick-witted Southern country folks who seem to be having a great time making fun of themselves.

The show plays on two levels. Big-city folks, people on the East and West Coasts, watch in smug horror to think that people could actually live like that, like latter-day Beverly Hillbillies only with normal looking and -acting wives and pleasant kids. They’re fascinated by how raw and real and close-tothe earth the Robertsons live, and how attractive that life seems, and how happy they are. Happy, happy, happy.

On a second level, we normal folks recognize that the Robertsons are doing something we Southerners have been doing for centuries – gently pulling outsiders’ legs for our own amusement, putting on slightly exaggerated performances of their own personalities.

They’re putting on a little shine, that’s all.

So, while they’re very real men and women, Uncle Si isn’t quite as crazy as he plays, Willie’s not the total CEO-jerk that he pretends to be, Jase isn’t as much of an irresponsible space cadet as he seems, and so forth. But that’s all a big secret, so don’t tell anybody.

But the products, and the millions of dollars those Robertsons are making, are very real, and I have to applaud the wisdom of the American people to eat this stuff up. Y’all big-city people may be laughing at Willie and them, but the rest of us are laughing at you Yankees thinking it’s every bit real, and buying that stuff up.

And the Robertsons are laughing all the way to the bank.

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You've got to be kidding me.

You've got to be kidding me. For every struggling child in the rural south, who knows they are gay and are deeply closeted and dealing with self hatred, words like this cause deep emotional,psychological, and spiritual pain. Words matter, and some kids can only take so much. There is an epidemic right now of young, gay kids killing themselves due to bullying, and demonization by adults, and we wonder whythey take thier lives. While you praise this family, it appears as though the stereotype of an ignorant rural southerner has been displayed in full force for all to see. The fact that individuals like this can't even begin to comprehend what sexual orientation is, and only see "being gay" as physical acts speaks volumes. Too bad he can't spend one day answering phone calls from LGBT children comtemplating suicide through the Trevor Project's life line ( an LGBT suicide prevention organization) and an organization that has already responded to over 38,000 phone calls (the majority overwhelmingly from the south) and responsible for saving countless lives. This guy is no American hero...he is a prime example of why gays leave the rural south. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/18/duck-dynasty-phil-robertson-gay...