As the ole saying goes “there’s a time and place for everything.” It’s always an awkward time when you’re caught saying or doing something out of place for the setting — like being drunk in public, surrounded by onlookers who just aren’t on your level, or like accidentally mentioning a ‘sexcapade’ during dinner with your boyfriend’s parents, or it could even be a little opinion that you have about a certain minority group, that gets published all over the world for millions to see and get offended over.
Celebrities have the worst luck in the latter offense than any of us common folk, having their private lives and opinions broadcasted and streamed for every single person to see and judge over and over, and to never live it down. 2013 had its share of big name celebs, in particular, who were caught professing not so tolerable views and opinions.
There was the legendary southern chef Paula Deen who made headlines when the wrong ears got ahold of her infamous “n-word,” and of course the latest scandal involving lead cast-member of the breakout A&E show ‘Duck Dynasty,’ Phil Robertson, who expressed quite controversial opinions about homosexuality and the Bible. Both parties suffered massively when the media became involved and their quotes spread like wildfire, and not at all in a good way.
Paula Deen’s products were pulled from several big retailers, as no major business wanted to be associated with an apparent ‘’racist.’’ Just a couple weeks ago, Phil Robertson was suspended from future episodes of ‘Duck Dynasty,’ a reality television phenomenon, which became a huge hit partly because of Phil’s major role on the show. Following Phil’s “gay hating from the Bible” quotes, A&E quickly issued an apology for Phil’s comments, plus removed him from the show altogether. Phil wasn’t even featured in the family photo promoting their interview with Barbara Walters!
The public’s response was no less than flamboyant. The controversy surrounding Phil and also Paula earlier in 2013 was everywhere the media lingered; magazines, newspapers (the few still around), social media sites, even popular crime reporters such as Nancy Grace jumped on the train, cause hey, covering war and poverty in the world just isn’t as juicy, right?
The reaction was mixed, people who agreed and people who were totally offended and thought that both Robertson and Deen deserved the treatment that they received. Arguments of free speech and “this is America” came into discussion in both instances, but it seemed as though the people arguing missed one crucial element both times…the companies that Paula Deen and Phil Robertson were working for.
The fact of the matter is, yes, this is America, yes, free speech is important and that’s all the two senior citizens were doing, exercising their right of free speech. Even though some didn’t quite agree with their words. But it’s not about free speech, it is about being an appropriate symbol of whatever business you are working for. At the end of the day, it’s all about marketing and making money! A large portion of the people who watch A&E are minorities, members of the LGBT community, and African Americans, which also didn’t help when an interview of Phil saying that African Americans were ‘content’ with slavery leaked online. Those viewers are the ones who bring in the ratings, the views, and the dough, if they choose to stock up on ‘Duck Dynasty’ merchandise. But if you are an openly gay citizen, why would you buy products from a brand that doesn’t support you?
That leads to less viewers, less ratings, no more product promotion, and ultimately that means the company loses money, and maybe their jobs! Maybe there are some people who even agree with Phil’s comments on homosexuals, but at the end of the day, it’s a business, the goal is money, and if you have thousands of people threatening to stop watching because you’ve chosen to not act, then you lose money…
This is America, free speech is a divine right to have that we take for granted, but only when it’s convenient…when you aren’t under a contract and making a huge corporation millions of dollars to be a happy, blissful, ‘redneck’ and shoot ducks out back…ya’ll.