The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Canard Conspiracy, only vaguely by Robert Ludlum...or someone like him, only still living.

Now that all the screaming over the Duck Dynasty kerfuffle has finally died down, I am going to put my two cents in. I know that I am a little late to the game here, but then again I usually am: I expect to be annoying people ten years from now about what a hoot Jerry Seinfeld’s show about nothing is, and I fully expect that people will be rolling their eyes about how funny that whole master of your own domain thing is. I guess I should have watched the show the first time around; it would have done wonders for my social life then, but at the time I was catching up on the reruns of All in the Family.

But what I find really interesting about l’affaire canard (yes, I am practicing my French here—sorry about that) is how a fairly standard exercise in American political kabuki theatre went off the tracks this badly.  At this point, I think, we all know how this sort of thing is supposed to play out: someone on the political right says something that someone on the political left, or one of their pet groups, finds offensive and starts hollering about it anywhere they can get an audience to listen. Whether or not they are really offended is beside the point here, as is whether the offending speech was actually offensive; being a niggard still has nothing to do with black people, no matter what the word sounds like.  Since freedom from offense is one of our constitutional rights (really, it is. I am sure it’s in the Constitution somewhere. Just look under the penumbras or behind the emanations, and while you’re there, could you take a peek and see if I left my mother’s recipe for soda bread in there as well?  Thanks a lot.) the minions of the offended group will let their media mouthpieces know that they are highly offended and deeply mortified and that they will demand that their offender make a full and contrite apology for his heinous crime, promise to never do it again, and slink out of the American public square, never to be heard from again, while the left and their minions gloat and cheer and pat themselves on the back for protecting the American public from the hurtful blatherings of yet another right wing troglodyte.

So why didn’t this scenario, a scenario we’ve all seen play out more times than we care to remember, happen this time?  My crack investigative staff has uncovered a memo from the A & E Network that might shed some light on the matter; I am publishing it here for the first time anywhere.

To: All Executive Staff
From: Executive Vice President for Programming
Re: Our Duck Problem

First, I want to thank everyone at the network for the way they have handled the Robertson controversy.  It has been a tough month for everyone involved and I know that you have done your best to protect the best interests of the network, our shareholders, and our corporate parents. Having said that, if our object in this whole matter was to make ourselves look like a gang of witless morons, then we have succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. We have managed to unite gay rights activists and evangelical Christians in mutual loathing of the A & E Network, and while I think that uniting two such utterly disparate groups in a mutual anything is no small achievement, I would have preferred that some other network accomplish this great feat instead of us.  The question for us now is this: what have we learned in all of this and how do we keep it from happening in the future?
Here are a few points I will want to discuss at our next meeting.

  1. We keep all media away from Phil Robertson at all times, without exception.  Really, people, did no one on site in Louisiana notice that GQ was interviewing Phil Robertson? Didn’t anyone down there ask themselves why GQ would be interested in the views of a man who sports a foot-long beard and dresses in camouflage 24/7? Did our Louisiana people think that GQ wanted Phil’s opinions on the new spring fashions?  The writer wanted him to say something the GQ home office would find absolutely outrageous, and hellfire and damnation for practicing homosexuals and wondering why a man would prefer another man’s anus to a woman’s vagina definitely fits GQ’s definition of outrageous. That the former has been Christian dogma for the past two millennia and the latter something all straight men not serving time have wondered about at one time or another is beside the point; both opinions come under the heading of things we do not discuss publicly. From here on out, no media goes near Phil without my personal okay on it.
  2. Second, regarding the possible boycotting of Duck Dynasty / Duck Commander products by GLAAD.  Please, who’s kidding who here? I will go out on a limb and guess that the number of gay rights activists who are also duck-hunting, card-carrying members of the NRA is probably miniscule almost to the point of nonexistence. In short, this is not something we have to spend a lot of time worrying about. On the other hand, the number of duck-hunting, card-carrying members of the NRA who do watch the show and buy Duck Dynasty / Duck Commander products comprise a good-sized chunk of the show’s audience. Second, most of that market share agrees with Phil and will boycott the show if we don’t put Phil back on the air.  So what does this mean for us?  I don’t think I have to remind everyone who works here that A & E is a capitalist enterprise: we exist to make money, the more money the better and truly obscene chunks of pelf are best of all. Catering to the politically correct is all very well and good if it keeps them off our backs, but we are not gutting the golden goose in order to satisfy anyone’s sense of moral outrage.  Not going to happen, people, remember that. I realize that retracting Phil’s suspension from the show will make the network look like we have no moral backbone at all, so let me repeat my previous point: the shareholders do not care if we have moral backbones, unicorn horns, or prehensile penises. They want their dividend checks on time and making sure they get them is what we are here for.  Keeping the gay rights people happy is nice, but it is not the point of our particular exercise.
  3. I bought the program, so this one is totally on me, but I think there’s something for all of us to learn here.  I bought the program thinking that we were getting an updated version of The Beverly Hillbillies and that the audience would get a good laugh at their antics down there on the bayou. Well, the laugh’s on me here. People are not laughing at the Robertsons, they are laughing with them.  So what is the lesson here?  Understand what you are buying.  I bought this program thinking that we were getting one thing and in reality I was buying something else entirely; I should have realized that before we were up to our hips in dead ducks.  The Robertsons are a tight-knit evangelical Christian family that believes in all the things such a family usually believes in, including those things that aren’t going to make them hugely popular in New York City and California.  So in the future this network will not be airing any more programming featuring tight-knit evangelical families.  Unlike a conventional television cast of actors, most of whom would gut their own mothers with a dull fish knife in order to advance their careers, a tightly knit family will always present a united front to an outsider threatening the group interest and will use the Bible to justify their pigheaded refusal to see reason.   In addition to this, the Robertsons are an American success story whose collective worth, I’ve read in reliable financial sources, is approximately $83 million.  Let me repeat that for those of you not paying attention: $83 million. Yes, there is a lot of money in killing water fowl, no two ways about it, a lot of money, the kind of money that buys the person with that kind of money a lot of immunity from the kinds of pressure the network usually brings to bear on a recalcitrant star in order to get them to conform to our view of the common good. Therefore, in the future the network will not be featuring any programming featuring tightly knit evangelical Christian families with the financial wherewithal to tell the network where to go stick it.  We will concentrate on programming featuring poor people, preferably very poor people who will do anything to stay on television and keep the money coming in.  We need to control the talent, everyone; otherwise, all you get is this sort of anarchy.
  4. Yes, this whole thing makes us look incredibly bad, there’s no getting around that, so when the media asks us for a comment, we’re just going to say nothing in as many words as possible and tell everyone that this situation was unfortunate. Unfortunate is this network’s mantra until this tempest in a teapot blows over.  If the gay rights people criticize us for our stand, that’s unfortunate as well, but tell them publicly that we sympathize. Privately, we say that all Phil wants is for America’s gays to repent and amend their lives; remember, if they were ducks, he’d be trying to blow their heads off with a shotgun, so tell them to count their damn blessings.

The rest of the memo dealt with matters that did not concern the Robertson affair, so we had redacted them in the interests of brevity. We have made several calls to A & E to ask for their comments on the memo; they have not returned our calls, except for a short statement saying that the memo is not an accurate reflection of the views of A & E’s senior management. Since then, all I've heard from them is the sound of crickets chirping happily away. That may mean something or maybe it doesn't. I only report; you get to decide what it all means.

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  • At 9:59 PM, Blogger Dick Stanley said…

    What would we do without the lapdog media telling us how to think? Gadzooks, we might have to think for ourselves. Wouldn't that be a hoot?

  • At 11:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh if only the head of A&E networks was really so brief, precise in his evaluations and to the point!


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