Monday, January 20, 2014

The dynamic of l'affair Duck Dynasty

There's a very interesting analysis of the true roots of the Duck Dynasty brouhah:
As was the case with such earlier TV shows as Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, andPetticoat Junction, as well as NPR’s long-running Prairie Home Companion, A&E was seeking an entertainment show portraying Middle America as “hickville” in order to get people to disparage and laugh at those who do not subscribe to “progressive” culture (social liberalism achieved and policed through bullying and government mandates). What A&E was not expecting is that instead of the audience laughing at a self-described “bunch of rednecks from Louisiana,” the 14.6 million who view the program each week have been laughing with the Robertson’s at the hypocrisy, foolishness, and tyranny of “progressive” elites. As CNN’s Ruben Navarrette has duly commented, “The reason that ‘Duck Dynasty’ is on television is to make liberal studio executives at A&E, and parent company Disney, feel superior, while making big profits for the studio.  The Robertson’s are on television so that people in New York and Los Angeles—the kind of folks who refer to anyplace in between as ‘flyover country’—can feel progressive and enlightened by comparing themselves to simple country folks in Louisiana who, according to the elites, are neither. (And can make lots of money doing so.)”
Quite frankly, in Hollywood it's often quite difficult to tell which is more important, the money or the feeling of superiority.  I'd also point out that Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction were all wildly popular, and were all cancelled despite that popularity in the "Rural Purge" in the early 1970s.  Also cancelled were The Andy Griffith Show, Mr. Ed, Lassie, and Hee Haw.  The result was the explosion of syndication, with the newly created cable TV networks snapping up rights (and viewers).

Read the whole thing, which gives a quite good summary of the situation and which reminded me that the attitudes of Hollywood have been set for a generation or more.


Goober said...

I've been saying this since before the bru-ha.

Duck Dynasty backfired on A&E. They never intended for America to fall in love with the Robertsons. They intended for America to fall in love with making fun o them.

It is obviously an artifact of coastal elite thinking that America would look at "noveau rich" rednecks (both "new rich" and "redneck" being something the coastals lampoon regularly) and think that we'd find them hilarious, as opposed to liking them as real people with real problems very similar to our own.

The fact that this show backfired on A&E is why they were so quick to reflexively turn on Phil when the faux-scandal hit the front pages. They were reaping the benefits of a show they didn't create. it was it's own living, breathing being, and coastal elites hate things that they can't control, so they secretly hated that show.

The Czar of Muscovy said...

This is exactly so, and Goober is right. The explosion of "rural mid-America" shows on cable networks is the creation of East and West Coasters, who sip their grigios and chuckle at the filthy, unwashed flyover folks and their silly, unsophisticated ways.

Of course, America falls in love with these shows because they identify with them. And the big ratings these shows get encourages the Coasters to put more of them on.

The Coasters don't realize we're laughing at them, not their shows.