Will 'Duck Dynasty' Fans Care About Phil Robertson's Anti-Gay Comments?

LGBT rights groups have slammed Phil Robertson for equating homosexuality to bestiality and terrorism.

Phil Robertson and Miss Kay Robertson attend A&E Networks' 2012 Upfront at Lincoln Center on May 9, 2012 in New York City.
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Updated at 8:45 p.m. 12/18/2013: A&E announced Wednesday evening it was placing Phil Robertson on indefinite hiatus due to the remarks he made to GQ.

"We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty," the network said in a statement. "His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely."

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Posted at 6:16 p.m. 12/18/2013: After years of ruffling duck feathers, an interview "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson gave GQ is blowing a whole new controversy out of the water.

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In a piece posted online Wednesday for the January issue, Robertson made a number of anti-gay statements to the magazine, equating homosexuality to bestiality, prostitution and terrorism, and also explaining:

"It seems to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man's anus," he said. "That's just me. I'm just thinking, 'There's more there! She's got more to offer.' I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying? But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man. It's just not logical."

The interview was quickly picked up by a number of outlets, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights groups already have condemned Robertson's statements. But will the backlash put a dent in the record-breaking ratings the show has been attracting when it returns for a fifth season in January?

"With scandals, I think there's three major elements," Syracuse University television and pop culture professor Robert Thompson says. "One is what you did. Two is how much hypocrisy of what you did is there. Three is how you package the scandal and apologize after."

GLAAD was quick to condemn Robertson's language, with spokesperson Wilson Cruz telling Entertainment Weekly, "Phil's decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to reexamine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families."

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The Human Rights Campaign issued its own statement from its president, Chad Griffin:

"Phil Robertson's remarks are not consistent with the values of our faith communities or the scientific findings of leading medical organizations. We know that being gay is not a choice someone makes, and that to suggest otherwise can be incredibly harmful. We also know that Americans of faith follow the Golden Rule – treating others with the respect and dignity you'd wish to be treated with. As a role model on a show that attracts millions of viewers, Phil Robertson has a responsibility to set a positive example for young Americans – not shame and ridicule them because of who they are."

Griffin also called on A&E to distance itself from Robertson's views.

However, the network instead responded with a statement from Robertson in which he more or less stands by his opinions as they relate to his Christian faith:

"My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together," Robertson said. "However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me."

 

With Robertson refusing to embark on a Paula Deen-esque apology tour, what happens when the show comes back Jan. 15 depends largely on the perceptions of "Duck Dynasty" viewers – all 10 million of them. And that's not to mention those who have bought into the empire of "Duck Dynasty" paraphernalia, which ranges from New York Times best-selling books to prom dresses.

Whether these statements contradict or otherwise damage the views that fans have of the Robertson family ultimately will determine if the show's blockbuster ratings take a hit.

"This 'Duck Dynasty' family has really emerged as this lovable, hard-working, appealing-to-everyone kind of family," Thompson says, "and anything that reeks of offensiveness is something we don't want to hear about -- it seems to contradict what they stand for."


Corrected on : Updated 12/18/13: This article has been updated to reflect a statement from A&E.