I don’t enjoy much of what’s on TV. I watch the Cowboys about sixteen times a season (I’m not exactly sure how much I enjoy that), and that’s nearly half of the TV time I put in for an entire year. I’ve never had cable in my home. (I’m not counting Netflix.)
But I do know that there’s a show about bearded guys called Duck Dynasty and that they’ve managed to be the most popular cable show in the history of TV. I can’t avoid reading that in the news. And I certainly can’t avoid hearing about one of the actors from the show getting canned for saying homosexuality makes no sense to him because he likes vaginas more than anuses. His crass (but honest) words offended enough people that A&E decided to part ways with him.
I haven’t watched A&E since the Colombo marathons of my childhood at my grandparent’s house, but I’m not surprised that, like every other station, they’ve learned that “reality” TV (filming scripted shows with cheap equipment and little rehearsal) is more profitable than older forms of entertainment. People latch on to those characters and connect with them in a deep way, so firing a show’s star can be taken very personally by the fans. It feels, to them, like it happened to a friend or a real person instead of an actor who is independently wealthy.
But all of us would do the same thing to an employee. Imagine if you paid someone to work for you and found them saying offensive things to customers. If you are a Christian, imagine running a faith-based television station; would you want someone to work for you if they publicly promoted atheism? Christians already do this sort of thing when they do business exclusively with other Believers. There are towns where your business will tank of the locals find out that you don’t go to church – how is that different from A&E firing Phil Robertson over a philosophical disagreement? A lot of people in the business world can tell you stories about missing out on a sale only because they didn’t go to the same church as the potential customer.
You might think it’s tacky for A&E to do this, but it’s no different than the decisions we make all the time to fraternize with people who are similar to us. If this sort of thing makes you upset, I recommend you start your own TV station and hire Robertson to be on a new reality show. It would probably be a hit, and if one of your actors promoted Baal worship you could fire them.
(More articles at www.ThinkingThroughChristianity.com)