What A&E has done was best described by astronaut Gus Grissom half a century ago, as recorded for posterity in The Right Stuff. It has committed a deviant act: symbolic bestiality. A&E has screwed the pooch.
A&E has just lost a franchise that generates almost half a billion dollars a year in product sales.
Can you spell “dumb”? The only hope is that buyers do not figure out that they are making money for A&E.
Let’s see if Walmart follows A&E’s lead.
The Robertsons can cut a deal with Walmart or Target 12 months after the last Duck Dynasty show airs in a few months, if the family decides to start a new show. A&E will then get leftovers.
We see here a failure to honor a familiar principle: count the cost. Choose your tactics accordingly. Do not overplay your hand. The great master of this was the Leftist organizer, Saul Alinsky. He assessed his strength. He assessed his opponents’ strength. Then he adopted a plan of action. He understood what it takes for a tiny minority to gain leverage. In Rules for Radicals (1972), he wrote this:
We will start with the system because there is no other place to start from except political lunacy. It is most important for those of us who want revolutionary change to understand that revolution must be preceded by reformation. To assume that a political revolution can survive without a supporting base of popular reformation is to ask for the impossible in politics. Men don’t like to step abruptly out of the security of familiar experience; they need a bridge to cross from their own experience to a new way. A revolutionary organizer must shake up the prevailing patterns of their lives — agitate, create disenchantment and discontent with the current values, to produce, if not a passion for change, at least a passive, affirmative, non-challenging climate. “The revolution was effected before the war commenced; John Adams wrote. “The Revolution was in the hearts and minds of the people. . . . This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments and affections of the people was the real American Revolution.” A revolution without a prior reformation would collapse or become a totalitarian tyranny.
From day one, the people at A&E violated this tactical rule.
“LET’S SHOW PHIL WHO’S BOSS!”
Phil Robertson is a curmudgeon’s curmudgeon. He is almost perfect. As the folks in Hollywood are said to say, it is as if he was sent by central casting.
If you have seen him on Duck Dynasty, you know that he is articulate. He has a peculiar way of speaking, which I noticed almost from the beginning. But his eloquence is unique. It is a strange eloquence. He grabs your attention, not simply because of what he says, but because of the way that he says it. It is no-frills speech. He does not waste a word. And he chooses his words carefully.
There is no question that A&E had no idea that this program would become the dominant cable show in history. There is no way that anybody could have predicted that. Robertson himself did not think it would work. But it did.
The producers of the show initially did their best to suppress its Christian overtones. As Robertson said before the recent flap, by removing references to Jesus whenever possible, the producers tried to make the family something it wasn’t. The editors bleeped out words, as if the men were using profanity. The story is here, posted in April 2013.