Friday, December 20, 2013

On Dynasties, Ignorance, and Moving Foreward To the Future.

In the beginning, I wanted Mr. Brown Verses to be a blog about movies, and that's it. Given how there's much more going on, like film analysis and how it relates to issues both here in America and beyond our borders; the annual predictions on the Academy Awards race; the state of the film industry; issues of ethnicity and gender roles in the business; the continued rise of fandom with both sexes; etc - it would be foolish to not talk about it and just sticking with reviewing movies. Most of this has been hesitance on my end because I personally feel that I'm not as well-versed in the film medium to really speak on trends and whatnot. There are other, more eloquent critics and readers of the Award-season tea leaves that express these concepts so damn well, it's almost amazing they haven't been picked up by publishers like Entertainment Weekly or Rolling Stone or The New York Times, but I guess the idea that they stand apart makes their work more fearless, more richer to read. People like Sasha Stone and Ryan Adams of Awards Daily, Krisopher Tapley of HitFlix and In Contention, and Anne Thompson of Thompson Hollywood. Hell, even Jefferey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere, a guy who I think comes off as a major asshole at times, even I respect his fearless attitude to speak about movies and the larger lexicon, regardless of people calling him out (many times, quite harshly, as I have done) on it. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't want this blog to be just about movies. It should be about what's going on around them. At the very least, what I, as a fan of film, can speak to as a member of the faceless audience, gazing upon the big screen every weekend, and. I have Ms. Stone for giving me that spark.




As I said, sometimes this blog won't just be about movies. Like tonight's piece, for example. Sometimes, there are stories that happen which, try as I might, cannot be ignored. Enter Phil Robertson, the GQ interview he gave for the magazine, his ignorant comments on gays and blacks, and the outrage by conservatives over his indefinite suspension handed down by A&E. Before I get to any of that, should make something clear about myself, before I go any further.

I am a 23 year-old African-America culinary student, and unashamed, non-religious liberal. I point this out because what I write at times will come from the view of a young person that aligns himself with social causes, such as gay rights and health care for all, as well as demanding that the wealthiest among our society start paying their fair share so that the least among can thrive in our country. That's just who I am. Phew, that was a load off my chest!

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let me start by saying that I've never watched Duck Dynasty. Sure, I've heard about it, but I've never bothered to watch an episode for the same reason why I barely watched Jersey Shore or Honey Boo-Boo: It's junkfood television. You don't learn anything important about these people, and it adds to the growing culture of people being famous because studios like E! and MTV are in the business of exploiting ignorant, shallow, or vain people for the benefit of the audience to feel better about themselves. I'm not saying that all reality television is the equivalent of consuming Milky Way bars, because that's just not true. I'm speaking to the Kardashian's and the Teen Mom's of the world; the kind of crap which only serves to talk about who said what to whom during the weekdays.


As I'm writing this, you probably already know the comments one of the stars of the show, Phil Robertson, has made, and if you haven't, here's the link to the interview he gave with GQ, along with Robertson giving out more thoughts about gays and being around blacks during the Jim Crow era. The comments themselves aren't anything I've heard before as a young black man and growing up in Hillcrest, a very pro-gay and lesbian community, for the first 10 years of my life, I've heard much worse come out of the mouths of intolerant people whenever the Gay Pride Parade would roll into town. If anything, the comments only highlight his ignorance and paints the picture that he's a product of an outdated time in American culture who's generation in the South were taught that being gay was immoral and that "separate but equal" is just the way things are. Honestly, few people who either watch the show, grew up in the South, or know people with that kind of mindset, should be that surprised that a family of very religious, backwards-thinking, cultural conservatives from the swamplands of Louisiana hold these options and beliefs, and would eventually voice them in some fashion, especially the folks at A&E Television!

Before they were given a platform, the big-wigs knew full-well what they were getting and still decided to give the Robertson family a green light for their reality show. They knew exactly what they were, and the consequences of giving them said platform, but they still went along anyway because it was going to give the cable company ratings and money. I know this because this isn't even the first time the patriarch of the family opened his mouth and let his ignorance fly!
"They (homosexuals) committed indecent acts with one another," said Robertson, clad in his usual camouflage, in the video posted on the church's YouTube page, which has drawn fresh attention in the wake of Robertson's suspension from one of the most-watched shows on cable television.
"And they received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion," he added. "They're full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant God haters. They are heartless. They are faithless. They are senseless. They are ruthless. They invent ways of doing evil."
From his views on gays and lesbians, to his comments regarding Muslims, it shouldn't come as a shock to A&E that this is what they were getting and that he'd one day open his mouth, so in a sense, the fact that now the company has egg on their face and trying to do damage control to save their image is kinda funny.

That is, until the conservative commentators and lawmakers got in on the act. From U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and a candidate for Illionis' congressional seat linking Robertson's comments to that of Rosa Park's act of defiance in 1955, to conservative media outlets like Fox News and Breitbart, right-wingers are crying foul that that liberal media was trying to silence another poor, defenseless, good-natured Christian man for speaking out on his beliefs.

I have a job working as a cashier and grilling meat at McDonald's. If I told my manager that she was a bitch who needed to go back to doing laundry and making meals for her family instead of being a manager for this establishment, then try to defend my comments by quoting my religious beliefs, I would be dropped from McD's so fast, I would have left cracks in the pavement. Sure, they maybe what I believe, but McDonald's also has a zero tolerance policy of sexist and racist attitudes from it's employees. That establishment doesn't want to be labeled as a place where ignorance and intolerance flourish among staff, so while i'm working for the company, i'm expected to promote their good name and put my best foot forward. Even though Robertson was the star of a reality TV program, he was still under the employment of A&E. He may hold his ignorant and misguided beliefs and opinions on gays, but he still represents that network. His actions have painted a negative light upon the television company and they hold the right to fire him because of it. Put simply, Robertson has every right to spout his ignorant bullshit, and A&E hold the right to fire him because of those beliefs.

Is Phil Robertson going to be arrested for his beliefs? No.

Will he be excluded from ever appearing on television because of his beliefs? No. Television is a wide medium, and i'm sure someone will gladly have him on, if for no other reason that the fans will follow, along with big ratings.

Is he going to be ostracized for his ignorant beliefs by many people now? Probably.

And there, as the Bard would say, lies the rub.

This is about an older generation of conservative, white America who see the rapid changes in the movement for marriage equality and gay & lesbian rights, who have realized they have lost the culture war, and are now looking for some sort of compensation, in the form of demanding that their outdated views on morality be acceptable in conversation based on religious grounds.

Let me speak very plainly and clearly to that request.

No.

You don't get that compensation from me, or from the majority of us who don't give a damn about the sexual orientation of an individual.  You don't get to spew your nonsense and claim religious freedom because of it. Not anymore. We've moved on from your hateful rhetoric, and we do not find it acceptable in today's world. You're allowed to feel and believe that being gay earns you a one-way ticked to eternal damnation, but you don't get the right to claim that because it says so in the Bible, that you're allowed to say it and that you're protected from any criticism that will come your way.

You're entitled to your beliefs about gays. That's something I cannot change. But now, in 21st century America, a country that's becoming more accepting of a person's sexual orientation and accepting that love is love, regardless if it's John and Jane, Jane and Lindsay, or John and James - You're right to shout to the high heavens that your very nature is a sin against God almighty and have us accept and tolerate your intolerance is null and void.

2 comments:

  1. My opinion on this matter is well known, at least in my circle. There's no excuse for this man's hatred, nor is there any excuse for the campaign trying to force A&E to host it. The man's words may make him ratings gold, but they've made him poison to sponsors.

    Just ask Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh how that ended for them. Even with high ratings and a prime spot, their CPM was kind of humiliating. And thanks to the success of Breaking Bad and Mad Men, A&E has even more to lose than their networks did.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great work, Jonathan. Your analogy about your job was so spot-on that I had to go in the other room to read it aloud so my girlfriend could share in it. She nodded and co-signed it throughout.

    ReplyDelete