Tag Archives: GQ

Bigot of the Week Award, December 20: Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty (and his defenders)

20 Dec
Bigot of the Week

Bigot of the Week

Long-time readers will know that I don’t watch much television. My husband and I have a few favorite programs but don’t keep on top of all the big shows. As a result, I barely knew what a Duck Dynasty was, much less who Phil Robertson might be. Sadly, this week he burst painfully into my consciousness, using his questionable celebrity to spew bigotry. In an interview with GQ, Robertson felt the need to wax homophobic at length.

Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong… Sin becomes fine. Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.

He then misquoted the Bible to substantiate his position. Just for fun, he also spent some time discussing anatomy. What hatred, ignorance, bile, and bigotry! What a sad abuse of power, especially power afforded on such a flimsy footing.

To their credit, A&E — the network that airs Duck Dynasty — has suspended Robertson indefinitely observing that:

His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community.

While that was the right thing to do, I wonder does it address reparative justice?  And sadly, A&E continues to profit from the series in syndication. Even more regrettable,  Robertson immediately fell back on the faith defense, basically blaming Jesus for his ugly words and then saying:

I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me.

I’m afraid the ship has sailed on that one, Mr. Duck. Robertson should also take a careful look at the people who have stood up to defend him. Failed candidate, half-term governor, and perpetual pseudo-celebrity Sarah Palin and perpetual hypocrite Gov. Bobby Jindal both rushed to his defense, calling his suspension and outrage.

Both Palin and Jindal call it a violation of his First Amendment right of free speech, thus also demonstrating their fundamental misunderstanding of the law. As with Juan Williams and so many others, Robertson has the right to speak. A&E, as his employer, has the right to say that those words aren’t appropriate and to take action. Sponsors have the right to withdraw their sponsorship. Viewers have the right to turn off the TV. Actions have consequences, even legally protected actions.

As a gay man, I have to suspect that racism and misogyny are probably also issues that our Mr. Robertson is mired in along with his homophobia. I wonder what it would have been like for A&E to have addressed this problem directly on the show and then talked about reparative justice? What would it be like for Robertson to have to travel the country and witness how the LGBTQ population is targeted and how the LGBTQ population of color is targeted even further? What concerns me most is that here in 2013 we have further evidence of just how far we have yet to go around eradicating homophobia, racism, misogyny, and poverty.  Of course, this Duck Dynasty does not have to worry about poverty, for they have been wealthy stars because of “reality tv.”

Call For Nominations:

Yes, it is that time of year again. Here is the official call for nominations for 2013’s Bigot of the Year Award and Hero of the Year Award. Please submit your nominations now.

Hero of the Week Award, September 20: Russell Brand

20 Sep

Russell BrandI am the first to admit that I am not one that has been able to appreciate the work of Russell Brand. I’ll further admit that the only thing I have seen him in was the re-make of  Arthur, which should never have been remade.  When you have a cast like Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli, the late Sir John Gielgud, and the late Geraldine Fitzgerald what are the hopes of doing better than that, even with my beloved Helen Mirren?  As it turns out, Russell Brand is a rather impressive young man with a keen awareness of homophobia, class, distribution of wealth, and history.  Bravo, Mr. Brand!

Brand was just recently the recipient of a British GQ Oracle award, which is sponsored by Hugo Boss.  Upon receiving his award, Brand took the opportunity to remind the audience of the deep ties Hugo Boss had to the Nazi Party during WWII.  Hugo Boss not only supported the Third Reich, but made an enormous amount of money making the uniforms for the Nazi soldiers. The uniforms were often made by prisoners of war — a truly horrific irony. Despite Boss’ prohibition from operating the business after the war, he transferred power to a relative and the business continued on its ill-gotten gains. During the push for reparations in the 1990s, the company paid lip service to the effort but refused to publicize any findings regarding their activities and contributed what adjudicators called “a bare minimum” to the reparation fund. What an awful example of soulless corporate greed.

In Brand’s most impressive speech, he also deftly addresses the persecution of gays during WWII — sadly we have a redux in Russia now.  And with great aplomb, Brandon also gives a much needed smack down of classism and the inequitable distribution of wealth.   I have to love Brand’s understanding of power dynamics and how corporations and governments are implicated. Note this portion of his speech as transcribed in the Guardian:

Now I’m aware that this was really no big deal; I’m not saying I’m an estuary [sic] Che Guevara. It was a daft joke by a daft comic at a daft event. It makes me wonder, though, how the relationships and power dynamics I witnessed on this relatively inconsequential context are replicated on a more significant scale.

For example, if you can’t criticise Hugo Boss at the GQ awards because they own the event, do you think it is significant that energy companies donate to the Tory party? Will that affect government policy? Will the relationships that “politician of the year” Boris Johnson has with City bankers – he took many more meetings with them than public servants in his first term as mayor – influence the way he runs our capital?

Sadly, GQ editor Dylan Jones reprimanded Brand on Twitter, stating, “What you did was very offensive to Hugo Boss.” Brand responded aptly, sticking to his important thesis: “What Hugo Boss did was very offensive to the Jews.”

I hope you will be equally as impressed with Russell Brand, as I let him speak for himself here.  I also have to add how much I love Danny Glover for initiating a boycott of Hugo Boss back in 2010, when the company tried to stomp out any signs of unionization.

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