Friday, December 27, 2013

Ducks, Dynasties and Decorum

       
A real Duck Dynasty.
          Today I'm going out on a limb -- gently, gingerly, but with purpose.

          I've debated with myself for days about whether or not to even "go there," but since I can't seem to push the subject out of my mind I've decided to talk about what has turned into an astonishing controversy in the United States.

          It's the one about the Doyen of the Duck Dynasty (DDD) reality TV series who told GQ magazine in explicit terms what he thought about homosexuality. Then, outraged, GLAAD shot back expressing its shock and distain for his homophobic diatribe.  And finally,  a chorus of loud public voices began to defend his right to free speech, guaranteed, as we know, under the First Amendment to our constitution. Interestingly, he was defended by those on the right and left of the political spectrum.


          As you know, my opinions in this space tend to run along the lines of: "I would never wear green, give me navy any day, " or, "I really hate Sauternes; please pass me a coupe de champagne." Clearly, not outrageously controversial by most anyone's standards. Good friends and my family know where I stand on issues that I consider morally important.

         I'm not sure whether it's because I live in France and am on the outside looking in, although I doubt that's the reason, but honestly I just don't get the fascination with reality TV. Where's the substance, where's the purpose, where's the point? How can people who shamelessly expose their lives to the public become "stars"? I don't watch much television, but I don't think this phenomenon has reached France as yet, though I'm sure it will. In fact, I do believe the Kardashian family is on some obscure channel here and the girls have been in Elle, so clearly some producer is probably trying to find a French family willing to live large with a television crew.


         I admit I have never seen any of these programs, but my inclination is to wonder how the opinions of the participants can have any significance in the grand scheme of things.

         I understand there is a little voyeur in all of us. I have a good friend who told me the definition of blogging is an exercise in egotism supported by voyeurs. She too has a blog. Maybe she's right, but perhaps a little harsh.

        Now that I've rambled, as is my wont, let me get to my point: Never mind political correctness, what happened to good, old-fashioned decorum; good manners; respect; and dare I say, a soupçon of kindness?

        My daughter and son-in-law have a friend who has been hosting Sunday night dinners for more than 20 years.  It's a sort of open house formula, everyone brings something and Georges, an exceptional cook, always makes a couple of divine dishes. His invitees range in age from very young to very old, typically the group is a sort of United Nations of nationalities, colors and cultures. It's impossible not to have fun chez Georges. However, Georges has house rules by which everyone must abide. They are: "No chicken, no turkey, no religion, no politics." Break the rules and you're not welcome to return.


        We all have our prejudices. Mine extend to the people who broke into our house because we and the gendarmes suspect specifically who the thieves were and we are talking about a nationality reputed to live by crime and intimidation.

         Perhaps it's the vanity of human nature to believe that our sentiments and opinions have merit, but isn't it interesting that when another's positions do not jibe with one's own up come the defences, out comes the bile. If the DDD could dish it out, why couldn't he take it when some referred to him as "ignorant"?

         Thank heaven and the Founding Fathers for free speech, n'est de-pas?  What a shame there isn't an amendment that mentions tolerance.

53 comments:

MulticoloredPieces said...

I totally agree. What has happened to respect? Maybe the world has become too vulgar as violence in all its forms increases. May the New Year see some improvements and may it bring you peace and prosperity.
best, nadia

Anonymous said...

Indeed. One who can dish it should be able to take it.

une femme said...

I'm with you on reality TV. Just. Don't. Get. It. And kindness, respect, understanding...too often in short supply.

And don't get me started on the people screaming about the First Amendment... it only means the government can't curb speech! It doesn't guarantee you a venue (let alone a TV show) or protect you from criticism! It doesn't mean people can't boycott your business or write op-eds about your words and views. It doesn't mean a private company can't decide to suspend or even fire you. You're free to voice whatever beliefs you have but be ready to accept the consequences.

Josephine Chicatanyage said...

I too hate reality TV. Where do they find the participants from! (now there is a prejudice)

Tish Jett said...

Ah, Pseu,

You are so right. Actions have consequences.

P. Courvisier said...

Well said! Bravo!

Cait O'Connor said...

Very well said.

I hate reality TV as well.

Cathy said...

I live in the US but I don't "get" reality TV either. Of course, there is nothing real about it, it is all contrived situations.

Lorrie said...

Reality TV appeals not. at. all. Tolerance is touted in today's society (in Canada as well as the US), but it usually toes a very politically correct line and those who don't agree are considered "intolerant."
Politeness, kindness, and goodness can be shown to everyone, even if I don't agree with their lifestyle or beliefs.

Blue Shed Thinking said...

There's free speech. That is usually entrenched in law.

Then there is hate speech. Many countries legislate against it.

There is a difference.

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

I think we all have our opinions on certain issues. Freedom of speech is important but kindness should/could be the rule by which we live.
The golden rule do unto others as you would have them do unto you....and the world would be a much better place.

I watched Duck Dynasty out of curiosity and it's very peculiar, but in a nice way :-))

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a thoughtful and well-written post on an important subject

. As a Canadian, I can't accept the idea of invoking amendment rights to defend what is essentially hate-speech with no other purpose than to discriminate and shame. Just say no - refuse to watch a show/channel that finds it ok to carry this deeply repulsive garbage.

ACorgiHouse said...

It is ridiculous, and shows just how militantly polarized the US has become. Part of the story is that the DD guy was put on leave by the channel (A&E) that produces his show. The "free speech" contingent took issue as if they had no right to do so. In fact, we have the right to freedom of speech in our Constitution, it says we have the right to express our beliefs (with some treasonous or dangerous exceptions) without fear of revenge or retribution by the GOVERNMENT. It says nothing of private employers, who can hire or fire anyone they want. I work for a conservative, faith based organization and I have no doubt my job would be jeopardized if I spent my free time in anti-America rallies. Or demon worship. The DD fellow was actually somewhat representing A&E, given GQ would never have interviewed him for any other reason. They could have fired his whole family, and the law would be behind him. It is coming to the point that Americans need to realize that just because you want something doesn't mean you can do it or have it. We've (unfortunately) come a long way as a civilized society.

ACorgiHouse said...

ooops, that should read "the law would be behind THEM." Mea culpa. K

Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

I am often disturbed by the fascination with reality TV...the majority of it is so ugly, rude, and demeaning. I hate seeing the women of the Real Wives series....and I do think it is robbing us of decorum and kindness. I wish the ratings would drop and the majority of these shows would disappear. I guess love, forgiveness,patience, kindness, and self control does not make for "good television."

Marsha Splenderosa said...

Tish, I had no idea who this man was before the controversy. Now I don't care who he is. The TV "talking heads" rave on when they have nothing else to talk about. Reality shows, except the talent competitions, hold no interest for me. I hate the Bachelor/Bachelorette drivel. The Kardashians? That's all about $$, I guess. And, I agree, it's all contrived. I'll just keep watching Scandal and NFL football!
xx's

Shelley said...

The few minutes I've seen of 'reality' TV do not reflect anything I want in my life - real or imagined.

Emm said...

The entire flap was engineered to generate page views and viewers. Like many here, I never heard of this "reality" show prior, but am reasonably sure that it is all scripted and costumed and utterly fake, as are most "reality" shows. They're cheap to produce and return lots of profit, hence attractive to producers. In TV, as in politics, Follow the Money.
And there's no First Amendment issue at all. He was fired probably for violating a contract that said "Don't be a jerk"; the government had nothing to do with it.
But, yes, a return to national civility would be a good thing, although I'm not holding my breath.

Anonymous said...

Love this. I second everything Pseu said as well. Honestly I thank God for you who have, or make the time, and have the talent to blog. I do not get reality TV nor do I get so much of what now serves as popular culture in the USA. But I have discovered so many sensible, tasteful, talented women who blog. Thank you.
TB

Emm said...

Tish, Here's a link to an opinion piece on this little flappette, telling you exactly who and what these folks are. Warning: rather salty language therein. http://bluntandcranky.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/a-man-worth-15000000-00-who-lives-on-a-20000-acre-estate-is-a-victim-really/

Coulda shoulda woulda said...

Reality tv in theory was meant to make the average joe schmoe a star but it has mutated into something so different. Now it seems that the culture in America is such that even the news channels only cater for a certain type of ideology rather than a balanced view. The media is scary everywhere though. But yes you are so right I wish people realized that tolerance goes hand in hand with free speech!

Tamera Beardsley said...

It is a sheer pleasure to read your eloquent writings ... the world is a much better place because of what you put into it.

Thank You!

Anonymous said...

Beautifully said.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Tish for your courage to go there, on this subject. Well said!

I like what Blue Shed Thinking said:

"There's free speech. That is usually entrenched in law.

Then there is hate speech. Many countries legislate against it.

There is a difference."

We need more of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" and less of "do unto others before they do it unto you".

Amelia

helen tilston said...

Dear Tish

Your daughter's friend Georges has it right..."no chicken,no turkey,no religion,no politics"..When did this rule with the last two items gets abolished?

Have a very Happy New Year

Helen xx

Anonymous said...

Apparently your readership is not representative of American society! Because none of us watch reality tv (or admit to it). I think it's awful, myself. There's nothing real about it, it's just taking awful people and putting them in situations that showcase their worst behavior, generally.

As I always telll my children, "if you're dysfunctional enough to be interesting on a tv show, then you should probably keep your dysfunction to yourself." Our nice, polite, functional family would never make it on reality tv. Luckily. Oh, and What Pseu Said. Totally agree.

---Jill Ann

Mystica said...

Thank you for bring it up for discussion.

Anonymous said...

Shame on GQ for printing these comments and starting this whole mess. Did they hope this would increase their readership?

Anyone who watches the show, for whatever reason, knew that in the 'subscript', Phil had these opinions all along. His publicist should have 'edited' his comments, in private, before the interview. All this did was draw more attention to the show and, perhaps, increase the number of new viewers, who will be curious to see what this was about.

Actually, the show is good! It is unlike all the other reality shows and appeals to many types of viewers.

Did you ever wonder why your publicist released your book at the same time as French Women Don't Get Facelifts? I did.

Did you ever wonder if sharing you weekly visits to the markets in your town, in such detail had anything to do with your robbery? I did.

Anonymous said...

Tish: I agree with you on the emptiness of reality TV. As for DDD,which I've never watched, he was asked to comment on that specific topic. It seemed he spoke honestly and with respect about the differences between people. I could not care less about what he thinks, but it is the media who has perpetuated this issue and the ridiculous among us who have now turned him into a hero. Where has reason gone? Angela Muller

Anonymous said...

I don't watch reality TV, I live in the U.S. and I would have never heard about this issue if you hadn't raised it.

A serious discussion, yes, but based on a reality T.V. personality in whom I have no interest.

Katherine said...

What I find amazing about the various reality TV programs - none of the programs reflect the way most people live. They are so far off the rails it is almost unbelievable. Maybe that is the fascination, but I just don't get any of those programs.

D. A. Wolf said...

An interesting topic - several topics, really.

Free speech, good taste, consequences, reality tv (a whole other matter - and yes, I watch select shows and not the Kardashians)...

Bottom line - we seem to have lost common sense, perspective, proportion and yes, a modicum of manners.

I hope France is spared the worst of all these trends. Would that we could stem the tide.

Anonymous said...

I have seen the show. A member of our extended family received the show on DVD last year at Christmas. "They have good Christian values," I was told. I disagree.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

"Reality" television? Vapid, hateful and ignorant. A low point in our culture, to be sure. I try to keep it off my radar as much as possible.

Shreddie said...

The whole thing is just silly. The network knew who the man was when they hired him, and they are SHOCKED that he turned out to be a bigot. I'm agreeing with those who think the entire controversy was manufactured for ratings purposes. (I am a Canadian living in an American state, and sorry to say, I'm pretty much used to all this incivility now.)

puppyfur said...

I'm with Pamela, and, as I stopped watching tv years ago it is easy to avoid this nonsense. Vapid, soulless, erzatz garbage. That someone who has apparently made a lot of money in said garbage now commands so many people's attention is beyond me.

Kolleen Guy said...

My only concern in this piece is that you imply that France is immune to reality tv or celebrity obsession. But there are plenty of reality programs in France...and obsession with celebrity. The scandal over the recent death and then suicide connected with one French reality series was widely reported. And pick up any French magazine and it is celebrity obsession overlad.

Anonymous said...

Agree, and with thanks to you for your risking the reach-out! What reality TV does is encourage the very worst of human behavior. I have watched only the "trailers" and that was plenty. One trailer which aired several years ago showed a woman screaming so loud and so hard that her face was brick red and her eyes bugged out, all her neck veins were bulging. I think her spittle hit faces of those around her as they flinched periodically. Even with the sound on the TV hurriedly muted it was plain to see this was the absolutely perfect illustration of apoplectic rage. I later learned it was because she didn't get a ride on a pleasure boat that she wanted to go on. Largely missing from life today particularly in the USA is IMO the direct result of producers' pandering to the very worst in human nature, scratching the "ugly itch" in a manner which can only be described as "viciousness porn." Missing today in life, and I yearn to find a place to live (obviously not in the US) where these human traits are the rule, not the exception: kindness, respect, lovely manners, courtliness, respect, goodwill, respect, caring about others, and did I mention respect? Thank you for speaking out.

A.Smith said...

This alone justifies not having watched tv for over 30 years. I do not own one, I stopped when Masterpiece Theatre was at the end and never looked back. Life is too short and there are so many books to read...I consider what I read about "reality" -whatever that may be by their terms- a prefabricated life style with no roots in real life, and think that it is neither unusual nor unexpected then that the U.S. ranked 16th out of 23 countries in literacy proficiency, 21st in numeracy proficiency, and 14th in problem solving in technology-rich environments, according to the OECD survey.

Tish, I could not agree with you more, Mother used to say that some opinions are best kept to one's self because it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubts. Still puzzles me about all these Bible quoting individuals that seem to select what and what not to use from it to justify their hatred. Even the new Pope has pronounced himself not to have the moral authority to judge anyone and yet, we hear too often how these people throw the stone and hides the hand without any problem. Hate is hate, nothing else, and under the mantle of religious righteousness still hate, and judgment, and prejudice, and hate. I want to feel pity for those who exercise this as a weapon against those who have chosen a different path and those who are born with no choice to choose a path at all. Much as I try to feel sorry for them I confess I only feel contempt. And to those trying to justify hatred by using my Bill of Rights to hide behind, stop the farce because no matter how hard you try to find there permission to spit hatred you are not going to find it. Or better yet, keep my Mother's advice, it will serve you good.

Pam said...

The dish-it-out-can't-take-it phenomenon has puzzled me for decades, ever since I started 'biting back' at the much-older cousin who teased me unmercifully as a child. When my wit and wits matured enough to engage him, he practically turned tail and ran, yelping, away from me, and I got accused of being mean--to a cousin ten years my senior. Perhaps it is only to comfort myself, but it seems this often happens when there is an intellectual mismatch between the parties. When one cannot engage in a substantive argument, one cries "foul".

knitpurl said...

As usual my dear Tish, your comments were written eloquently. What a year this has been. I wish you a happy 2014 and tons more book sales (rereading for second time -- still love it). Hugs and best of everything from Wisconsin, xoxoxoxo, C

sisty said...

I'm kind of suprised that no one has yet remarked on this part of the post, so here goes:

"We all have our prejudices. Mine extend to the people who broke into our house because we and the gendarmes suspect specifically who the thieves were and we are talking about a nationality reputed to live by crime and intimidation."

An entire nationality? Please tell us who -- the Albanians? The Irish? I can understand a prejudice against the individuals who robbed you, but to condemn an entire nationality/ethnicity/race is not something I would have expected of you. I'm shocked, frankly.

sisty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tish Jett said...

Dear Sisty,

You're absolutely right. Of course I didn't mean an entire nationality. It would be crazy and cruel to say or believe such an unfair declaration.

I do apologize for leaving that impression. I won't obviously mention those who the police and gendarmes say are responsible for decades of robberies, burglaries and intimidation in France.

Please forgive me for the fervour of the moment that came out as a condemnation of an entire nationality. Very unkind and rather stupid on my part.

Tish Jett said...

On another subject. . . of course the French, like most of the rest of us (oh, how I love Gala), like to read gossipy magazines.

I may be wrong, but I am not aware of any reality TV programs on French TV -- yet.

Tish Jett said...

And finally, Anonymous, I am very, very curious about your comment.

You said you wondered about the close publication dates of my book and French Women Don't Get Facelifts. I thought it was a simple coincidence. I would love to year your take on it.

Please tell me.

Merci.

Kolleen Guy said...

There have been almost 30 French reality series. "Loft Story" was one of the first and highly controversial. And there are "adventure" series, such as, The Great Race that inspired American spin offs. A quick google search in either French or English turns up hundreds of hits. My point here is that this obsession may be more about class than nationality. Just like there are French women who get fat, there are French people who promote and watch reality tv.

Anonymous said...

My name is Maria and I live in Uruguay, South America. My husband and I do not watch TV; instead we do quite a bit of reading on a WIDE variety of subjects. When the DD "scandal" came up, I immediately looked up the article in question to see what it was all about. My guess is that few people actually read it (http://www.gq.com/entertainment/television/201401/duck-dynasty-phil-robertson).

Mr. Robertson's views are pretty much irrelevant to the matter at hand. Neither is the network's predictable reaction of initially taking action only to backtrack when it seemed they would lose a whole lot of DD revenue. Clearly they have the right to hire, and fire, as they see fit.

The most worrisome point to me, and one that I have not seen discussed much, is that true tolerance has gone out the window. The term has been co-opted to mean that I, a conservative Christian (if you rolled your eyes or sighed deeply when you read that, perhaps you should ask yourself how tolerant you really are), am constantly being derided for my thoughts and beliefs, mostly by those who are most proud of their "tolerance." It seems to me that by the new definition of tolerance, I am expected to be tolerant, but that unless or until I am "enlightened," my beliefs are simply not valid.

And that's my personal issue to ponder with in this entire DD saga.

Thank you for providing this space to exchange views on this subject.

If you read through to this point, thank you for your patience.

Happy New Year to all from the scorching heat of Uruguay!

María

Duchesse said...

Have not owned a TV for 35 years, because I noticed (on the whole) that TV made me stupid, inactive, and programmed to be a consumer. I still think that, despite a handful of good programs (which I can download selectively.) I have never seen an episode of Duck Dynasty or a Kardashian on broadcast media and doubt I will. It can be done.

dmh said...

Let's not forget the lesson of the French Revolution. Free speech IS life.

Anonymous said...

Holding DD up as your premier example of the erosion of good
taste just doesn't hit the mark with me. It's not my entertainment choice. I'm a loyal reader and I've
read your book. You have been highlighting some of the troubling trends (now that's a discussion) outside of France since your return from the States. DD and
sloppy dressing exist but why not balance your observations with the positives. Your new grandchild
will be growing up here, perhaps.
Surely you saw some good things when you were in the US. But, what?

Tish Jett said...

Dear Anonymous,

I did indeed see wonderful things while I was in the States and plan to write about them, probably next week.

Such good things in fact, that I'm ready to move back. Seriously.

sisty said...

Dear Tish:

Thank you for your thoughtful and gracious response to my concern above.

Sisty

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...