Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cashing in on Hypocrisy Duck Dynasty, Honey Booboo: TV Loves Stereotypes

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cashing in on Hypocrisy Duck Dynasty, Honey Booboo: TV Loves Stereotypes

Article excerpt

By the time public relations executive Justine Sacco ended her 12-hour flight from London to South Africa, her offensive tweet had gone viral. "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!" it said.

Within hours, InterActive Corp. fired the communications director. Ms. Sacco issued a public apology to South Africans, explaining it was easy to be cavalier about its AIDS crisis "that we read about in America, but do not live with or face on a continuous basis." Actually, Americans, and not just black ones, live with the AIDS crisis, too.

Of the many questions the story raises, one is how someone so lacking in PR skills got to be a public relations executive. That's far more of a mystery than why Phil Robertson, patriarch of the A&E Network reality show "Duck Dynasty," would nostalgically evoke pre- civil rights days in the South and call gay people sinners who, like "male prostitutes," "drunkards," "slanderers" and "swindlers," won't get to heaven.

The show celebrates what Robertson family members unapologetically call redneck culture. "I'm a loose cannon. I shoot from the hip," one relative said. A&E counts on the family's rogue, squirrel-and frog-eating ways - they put on black face paint and hunt on golf courses for dinner - to entertain and shock viewers.

Acting indignant, A&E indefinitely suspended Mr. Robertson after he told GQ magazine that gays are sinners and said growing up in the "pre-entitlement, pre-welfare" South, black people were, in his words, "happy," were not mistreated and never criticized whites. Subtext: Ah, for the good old days when everyone knew their place.

But what did A&E expect? Its reaction feels a shade less insincere than CBS Radio's response when it sacked Don Imus for his "nappy-headed hos" remark about the Rutgers University women's basketball team. CBS had long profited from the shock-jock's tirades against minorities and women - calling an African-American TV journalist "a cleaning lady," a Washington Post reporter a "Jewboy," a disabled colleague "the cripple" and a pair of Indian tennis players "Gunga Din and Sambo."

If networks really cared about their featured acts' attitudes on human rights, wouldn't they have screened or educated them at the outset? …

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