by Dr. Boyce Watkins
I have never watched “Duck Dynasty.” When I heard the name of the show, I obviously thought the show was about ducks. But then I looked into the matter a bit more and saw that Rev. Jesse Jackson and others were commenting on remarks made by Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson. I saw Rev. Jackson’s daughter a few days ago, and we didn’t talk about Duck, but I soon realized that Robertson had made some comments that were offensive to some members of the gay and black communities.
I won’t go into the merits, or lack thereof, of Robertson’s remarks. Today, I will only go into the reasons why A&E, the network that distributes the show, chose to ignore protests and keep the show on the air. The network initially chose to remove the show, and then changed it’s mind after the backlash to the backlash that came in the middle of the controversy.
“He and his family have publicly stated they regret the ‘coarse language’ he used and the misinterpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article,” A&E said, referring to the article where Robertson made his controversial remarks. “He also made it clear he would ‘never incite or encourage hate.’”
Here’s the translation for those who are still learning to read “Corporation-ese:” We are really worried that Robertson offended gay people with his offensive language, since most of us shake in our boots when GLAAD comes after us. We also care a little bit about what he said about black people, but since black people don’t have much power and didn’t speak up very much, we’re not really concerned about that. The reason that the Duck Dynasty clan, a group of individuals we wouldn’t associate ourselves with under normal circumstances, are worth all this trouble is because we generate boatloads of money for our struggling network from the faith-based community, which showed us (and Chik-fila) that their love for something can typically drown out another group’s disappointment. So, we’re just gonna keep on getting paid and try to minimize the damage, since we know that, in a world of political correctness, we can’t please everyone.”
Let’s be clear: Duck Dynasty IS A DYNASTY. Seeming to come out of nowhere, the show gets a whopping 14.6 million viewers an episode, according to Nielson. That translates to $80 million per year in ad revenue and another $400 million in merchandising sales. Those numbers will probably grow even more now that their base has been further solidified.
Financial Juneteenth Lessons:
1) In a capitalist society, money matters. Companies tend to do the right thing when it either a) doesn’t cost them very much or b) makes them money. Just ask Don Imus. It’s not right, but it’s true. This is the reason that black people must pursue various forms of economic power.
2) Media is driven by money, mainly merchandising and ad revenue. So, if you want to know why your favorite rapper is still on the radio producing toxic, mediocre music, it’s because someone is making money from his work.
3) If you want to get the attention of corporations, you have to hit them in the pocket. GLAAD lost this battle because, when the gains and losses were calculated, the gay community simply did not have the economic leverage to get A&E to “do the right thing” (whatever that happens to be for the beholder).
In other words, Money Matters.