When Reality Shows Go Off Script

Happy New Year.

My resolution for 2014 is to write more, and I am starting with this little blog tucked away in a small, cold cavern in a forgotten part of the underworld. I will be posting about current (or current-ish) events, politics and whatever pop culture phenomenon catches my attention. Maybe even some about life for an American in Saudi Arabia, though not much, because, except for a daily commute through the hell that is Riyadh traffic, and a weekly trip to buy groceries, I generally stay on the compound living with all the other American contractors that my company has hired.

So, we will start with the biggest controversy of the past month.

This past week, A&E Network announced that Phil Robertson will be part of the show when they get back to taping Duck Dynasty in the spring. Does this surprise anybody? It shouldn't. I don't think that A&E ever had any intention of shooting any episodes of Duck Dynasty that did not include Phil.

Sure, they announced that Phil Robertson was being "indefinitely suspended" for remarks made while being interviewed by Drew Magary of GQ Magazine. Suffice it to say that certain people were not pleased with how Phil expressed some of his religious views, or his opinion of what constitutes sin. These people are the type of people who like to cause a ruckus when they get displeased, actually, it seems all people are the type of people who like to cause a ruckus when they get displeased, but these people are the type of people to whom the executives at A&E pay attention when they cause a ruckus.

So they announced that Phil Robertson would be "suspended indefinitely" from Duck Dynasty.

The following is speculation, which means I am making an absolute guess with no real evidence that any of this is true. Yep, I am acting like a "climate change" believer. Here is the timeline that I believe the executives at A&E had in mind.

1) They announce Phil's "suspension." Those who called for Phil to be thrown off the show all shout "Yay," and give each other high fives.

2) A&E announces Phil's apology for offending the easily offended by saying the not really offensive things he said. This apology is possibly announced in conjunction with other concessions to the easily offended group.

3) New episodes of Duck Dynasty begin to air in January. Phil is on the show, because these episodes were filmed before his suspension. The A&E executives expect even higher ratings for at least the first episode, because the show is now controversial and has gotten even more attention. Many curious people who had never seen the show tune in to take a gander at the family whose favorite pastime is taking ganders. (Yeah, I know, but they do hunt geese too.)

4) A&E announces that a contrite and humbled Phil Robertson will be part of the show again. Most likely announced with assurances that he has changed is outlook in some way.

5) Duck Dynasty begins filming new episodes of Duck Dynasty. Because of the shooting schedule, Phil's suspension has not actually resulted in him missing any episodes of the show.

6) Profit.

Obviously the execs missed out on their calculations. They did not realize that Phil would stand by his principles Why they thought a man who, when young and dirt poor, turned down the possibility of fame and fortune when given the chance to play professional football, would, now that he is much older, sure of himself and, by the way, extremely well off, dismiss his principles to continue on a television show, is actually a bit naïve of them. They did not think that the rest of the family would tell them that they could take a hike if Phil wasn't included.

They also didn't foresee the firestorm that would come from the number of people that supported Phil, not just because they like the show, but also in general support of the principle that people shouldn't be fired for stating their beliefs. So, now they had a new group of people who were not pleased and were causing a ruckus. More importantly, this group of ruckus causing people actually belonged to the core demographic that watched the show in question. While the previous group had to be appeased out of the general principle that the A&E executives must always be as politically correct as possible in thought, word and deed, this group could actually effect the show's ratings, which could effect the bottom line.

The bottom line trumps PC all the time, especially in Hollywood. (No, this statement cannot explain In the Valley of Elah, Green Zone, or Lions for Lambs.)

To avoid any effect on the bottom line, Phil had to be reinstated way ahead of the timeline, and without prostrating himself to the lords of the "righteously" offended. This is an example that we can still push back against the legions of modern political conformity and come out on top.

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