This Christmas episode, cleverly titled “O Little Town of West Monroe,” will feature the camo clan performing a live Nativity scene for their local church. There will also be a lot of discussions among family members about choosing the right Christmas presents for each other. But for a family worth 83 million dollars, you can bet those presents will be piled high under their various Christmas trees.
Given their show, their website and their countless merchandising endorsements, the Robertson clan has managed to amass a fortune on their way to becoming the darlings of the entertainment industry.
With such a sustained and prolific presence, it was just a matter of time before the “Duck Dynasty” clan went Hollywood. Amongst Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian, Pope Francis and Kanye West, Barbara Walters has included the Robertson clan on her annual list of the ten most fascinating people of the year.
It seems like everyone from Sarah Palin to WalMart wants a piece of the Duck action, and the Robertsons are obliging them as they laugh all the way to the bank. What originally started out as one very lucky reality show producer’s plan to cash in on the country antics of a family of Louisiana “rednecks” has paid off, big time. But not in the usual way.
Shows like “Buckwild” and “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” were made to give more “sophisticated” viewers an assortment of Flyover Country hicks, bumpkins, rednecks and yahoos to deride and mock. And these shows accomplished exactly what they set out to do.
The same game plan was undoubtedly in place when the Coastal Carpetbaggers came knocking on the door of the Robertson family. We can just imagine how the Carpetbaggers’ business planning meeting went back at the home office after their initial howdy-do with the Dynasty.
“Whoa! Will you look at those beards. What a hoot! These hick clowns are guaranteed to make us a fortune. Heck, you can’t make stuff like this up. Let’s pay them a pittance to act like the country bumpkins they were obviously born to be, right in front of our cameras. We’ll label it ‘reality TV,’ sell outrageous amounts of ad spots, make a fortune, and join the 1% we otherwise love to denounce in our self-serving public statements. It’s a win-win, alright. Even for those hicks. What’s not to love here?”
What happened instead turned the entertainment industry upside down. From the start, “Duck Dynasty” was unlike any other reality show. The usual bad behavior and questionable morals encouraged, documented, and even artificially scripted on other reality shows gave way to good manners, family values, and Christian beliefs on “Duck Dynasty.”
And lo, a reality show lacking the standard twin advantages of drunken antics and contrived conflict defied the odds and became a huge success. The Robertsons chose instead to remind viewers that regardless of how successful we become, nothing is more important than family and friends.
Imagine the shock and surprise of A&E when the net-heads realized their stock reality show formula was so far removed from what we really want to see. They discovered that we are tired of watching people behaving badly. And why wouldn’t we be after a long day at the salt mines?
If we want to watch people behaving badly, all we have to do is step out into the world. In our post-9/11, post-Great Recession/Depression era, who needs more examples of boorish, cynical, negative, or just plain ignorant behavior anyway?
Some might argue with our view by saying that now, with their faces on everything from band aids to bobble heads, the Robertson clan has sold out. But who can blame them for taking advantage of the very industry that wanted to exploit them to fill their own pockets?
If the Robertsons have proven anything to the American audience, it is that they know how to make the most of a good thing. This same kind of folk-wisdom likely also tells them that all good things eventually end. “Duck Dynasty” may still have enough interesting material to run for a few more seasons. But the show is definitely approaching its expiration date.
But long after the last episode of “Duck Dynasty” airs, the Robertson family will still be chuckling to themselves about how they turned the tables on reality TV and got rich doing it. And most of us will be chuckling right along with them because they became successful for all the right reasons. In spite of the Coastal Condescension Crew that brought them to cable in the first place, it’s the Robertsons who’ll get the last laugh.
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