Monday, December 23, 2013

The Duck Hunter in a Hollywood Snare?

There’s usually more going on behind the headlines than you think.

Take the A&E Network dust-up with Phil Robertson over his GQ magazine interview in which he had the audacity to call homosexual intimacy “sinful” and cited the Scriptures to support his views. He used some graphic language, but the interviewer himself used a lot more. It’s GQ.

But why would A&E move so swiftly to suspend the star of their all-time biggest show, essentially slaying the duck that lays their golden eggs? Why would they commit corporate suicide?

But sources close the Robertson family make sense of it this way. You may have pictured a GQ guy in a hipster suit hanging out with Phil and his shotgun. Not at all! There was an A&E representative there the whole time. A&E let the interview go to press then feigned outrage. These sources claim it was set-up.

But why set up their own star? The A&E people originally pitched Duck Dynasty as a mockery of stupid rednecks, baboons from the backwoods. You know. The ridiculous people in the world beyond the Starbucks. But millions came to admire them and their view of family and Jesus.

From a Hollywood/Manhattan point of view this is a disaster. Millions are reading books by Phil, Si, and Willy on Christian living. The monster this show created supports everything this coastal “creative class” despises. So they caught Phil in a trap—the hunter was hunted and bagged—and dangled the money and fame, expecting he would come around and do things their way. Or so they say.

But TMZ reports that “sources very familiar with the situation” claim that the interview went wild when Phil escaped with the reporter on his ATV. Who are going to believe?

Given that A&E made no attempt to rescue Phil from the swamp of his own making, the corporate plot version seems plausible to me. We tend to think that other people think the way we do. Media executives are no different. They don't understand a seriously held Christian faith. Godliness is rare in their circles. Their social milieu these days can’t understand moral dissent from gay acceptance in anything but political terms. It’s “discrimination,” as their friends at GLAAD put it.

And people they deal with daily “have their price.” And when the price starts at $200,000 a show for the family, they cannot image someone not “coming around.”  But the Robertsons don't need the money. They're worth $400 million in merchandise alone. And even before the show they were rich from duck calls. On the expense side, they’re happy to live on the ducks and squirrels they kill. Moreover, they know you cannot serve both God and money.

What we see in this stand-off is the clash of worlds that divides the country more broadly. This is why we have red and blue states. This is one reason we have gridlock in Congress. Calls to “understand” each other won’t do. Christians have to get more serious about knowing Jesus, knowing our world, and knowing better how to live out their faith in Jesus in a complex and hostile world. Phil Robertson is growing along with us in that. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Consumerist Parenting

With attention at Christmastime on our pathetic consumerism, take a look at this review that appears on Amazon with the Samsung 85" Ultra HD 3D Smart LED television. Price tag: $40,000! It's a parody of the intersection of consumerism and childrearing.

6,047 of 6,163 people found the following review helpful

Very satisfiedBy James O. Thach on November 25, 2013

My wife and I bought this after selling our daughter Amanda into white slavery. We actually got a refurbished. It's missing the remote, but oh well-- for $10K off, I can afford a universal, right? The picture is amazing. I've never seen the world with such clarity. Amanda, if you're reading this, hang in there, honey! We'll see you in a year. 

***** I just wanted to add an addendum to my review. Since posting it, we have received a flood of responses. People have said some pretty hurtful things--even questioning our values. Let me assure you, this was not an easy decision to make, and we made it as a family. Obviously, it's very personal. But in light of all the second-guessing, I wanted to explain our thinking. First and foremost, screen size. I really think you can't go too big. 85" may seem huge, but you get used to it fast. Second, resolution. Is 4K overkill? Please, that's what they said about 1080P! More dots = better. Period. And as far as this being a $40,000 "dumb" TV, people need to re-read my initial post: WE BOUGHT IT REFURBISHED. It was only $30,000. Some of you may think I'm avoiding the "elephant in the room"-the real reason why this was such a heart-wrenching choice. So let's just get it out there. Yes, the 120 Hz refresh rate is a disappointment, especially on a 4K. But life is full of compromises. And frankly, we hardly notice. All in all, no regrets. P.S., as for our daughter, NO ONE has the right to question our parenting. Totally out of bounds. Amanda was going into 7th grade, so it was going to be a transitional year anyway. Now she gets to see the world. How many kids her age get to go to Bahrain? I sure as heck didn't, but you don't hear me screaming "child abuse." Bottom line: MYOB! Seriously. 

***** Has it been a year already? Wow! I guess that's what 8 hours a day of immersive TV will do for you! Many of you have expressed your eagerness for an update. Well, here goes. Generally, the Samsung has held up beautifully. We have noticed a little bit of lag, mostly in multi-player gaming--but not enough to cost us any firefights. There have been some issues up-imaging low rez content, but that's to be expected when you early-adopt--we're still "waiting on the world to change," as John Mayer would say (gosh he's talented.) On the plus side, we feel like we are now officially part of the cast of GOT. The other night Peg almost had to open a window to let Daenerys' dragons fly out! And you'll all be happy to know our darling Amanda is back with us, safe and sound. She has changed a little. She's less talkative than before (though she had some choice words for me when I asked her to clean her room). And she's started wearing eye make-up, which has Peg a bit concerned. But welcome to thirteen, I guess. We're just glad to have her home. And she loves the TV. That's the main thing. In fact, she spends so much time in front of it lately, you'd swear she owns it.

People get really sensitive when you question their parenting. The worse the parents, the more sensitive they get.