Interesting article about the transformation of the real Robertson family into the rednecks of Duck Dynasty. Read the whole thing at Washington Monthly. Excerpts:
A&E appears to have taken a large clan of affluent, college-educated, mildly conservative, country club Republicans, common across the nicer suburbs of the old south, and repackaged them as the Beverly Hillbillies.
On December 29 Political Blind Spot posted an interesting series of older family photographs of the Robertson family, from back in the 90s, long after they’d founded the company, but before Duck Dynasty and anyone in the entertainment industry had ever heard of them.
Here are Phil Robertson’s four sons, before network TV:
Phil Robertson grew up poor in the northwest Louisiana —“a place where Cajun redneck culture and Ozark redneck culture intersect” and in 1972 he,
Founded the Duck Commander company, which sold a line of custom-made duck-hunting calls that quickly became popular among avid hunters for their uncanny accuracy in replicating the sound of a real duck. He eventually sold half the company to his son Willie, now 41, and together they made a DVD series about the family’s duck hunts, which led to a show on the Outdoor Channel, which led to Duck Dynasty on A&E….
The show—a reality sitcom showcasing the semiscripted high jinks of Phil, his brother “Uncle Si,” his four sons, Alan, Willie, Jase, and Jep, and the perpetually exasperated but always perfectly accessorized Robertson-family ladies—has become the biggest reality-TV hit in the history of cable television, reportedly earning the family a holy shit-worthy $200,000-an-episode paycheck. It’s a funny, family-friendly show, with “skits that we come up with,” as Phil describes the writing process. They plunder beehives. They blow up beaver dams.Here's Willie, before and after his redneck transformation:
Now, as part of the show:
Before, complete with frosted tips:
The original Duck Dynasty promo billed the show as a “rags-to-riches story of a down-home family business with a heavily bearded band of hunting experts.”
This is no such family. A&E just created its own rednecks.
The ZZ top bearded, camo-wearing mountain men, this fusion of “Cajun redneck culture and Ozark redneck culture” is entertainment industry idea of what real America looks like.
The Robertsons are not being exploited; they’re fully on board with this plan, cynical as it appears. And why shouldn’t they be? If A&E wanted to give me $8 million to play a caricature of myself on TV I would totally do it.