Friday, December 20, 2013

Duck Dynasty, False Realities, and the Return of the Kayfabe

So, in the reality we live in, the "News" cannot be only actual useful information about our lives and factors and decisions that impact it and the lives of the other people on the planet, how we have hit the lowest gas prices in about three years, how the recovery from the biggest Typhoon in history is going, the forced starvation of thousands in Syria, or that we can likely skip our multivitamins and antibacterial soap and be just as healthy.

No. That does not feed the beast. That doesn't generate enough viewers, "shares" or "clicks". The beast needs endless idiocy for idiots to consume. It needs to generate things that make the morons feel the need to wail and the smug feel the need to comment on (That's me!). There is another class that struggles to ignore the hose of idiocy fired their way by our culture 24/7, but I am not that enlightened.

The Idiocy this week is the interview a Duck Dynasty cast member gave in a promoted interview to GQ magazine. Phil Robertson, who plays the role of the "Patriarch" of the cast of the Duck Dynasty show, chose to make anti-gay statements in an interview in a national magazine known for fashion and liberal politics. This generated a response from many of the members of the majority of our society that do not harbor any special animosity to homosexuals. This was followed by a hideous non-apology, an attempt to use some paraphrased old testament bible verses to justify his position, and other actions and responses that are well documented here. Eventually A&E took action and "Suspended" actor Phil Robertson from playing his character for a season.

The other characters on other programs responded as the play went on. You see them ready to squeeze into the limelight at a moment's notice - ready to read their lines in an attempt to desperately grasp a little more of that attention they have learned to turn into money. Pretend Politicians like Sarah Palin and Hermann Cain, Pretend Ministers like Bryan Fischer, Fake Journalists like Todd Starnes, Sean Hannity and other FOX characters. The entire menagerie of miscreants who play roles for the more hateful half of America came out to recite their lines. I am personally surprised that Pretend Business Expert, Pretend Boss, and Pretend Presidential Candidate Donald Trump has not yet been trotted out to make his obligatory supportive statement.

As far as publicity moments go, this is a good one. Pretend controversy guarantees that even the least enlightened and least creative can participate in the conversation by having opinions they do not have to defend, justify, explore, or even come up with on their own. This phenomenon was on display just last September regarding Miley Cyrus and "Twerking". It worked well then too, I noted. This is a win for the Duck Dynasty cast, as they are paid $200,000 an episode to be split among family members and if one is "suspended" the family does not lose one single dime. This may put the network in a tough spot - they might lost some viewers if they do not reverse the suspension, but I doubt that Phil will be unsuspended, and also doubt that any measurable part of the fan base will turn away from the show. So, likely a big win with this stunt.

This also allows Mr. Robertson to focus on playing his character at other venues. These include Right Wing or Religious speaking engagements, a possible "Contributor" gig with Fox News or ClearChannel Radio, a 100% chance to run the FoxPublican "news" circuit and religious networks promoting his show (Expected interview statement "I felt obligated to speak the truth in the bible even it might cost me everything" he will say shortly before promoting the show and various other projects that make him money). Somewhere there exist people who can listen to this, nod their head at this "genuine heartfelt wisdom" and not realize they are the suckers whose attention, time, and money keeps the scam machine going.

I don't have a problem with reality television. Television will always have hours of stupid to fill. Maury is till seeing who the real father is, there are still fake courtrooms and fake judges, there is still Fox News. Sturgeon's law that 90% of everything is crap still applies. We get the culture we deserve.

What I DO have a problem with is that some of us don't realize this, all of this, is fake.

Do you remember growing up and meeting that kid who thought professional wrestling was real? It was an inevitable byproduct of the methods of professional wrestling that very young or very slow children will believe professional wrestling is real. Characters who play professional wrestlers are contractually required to practice Kayfabe, meaning they must remain in character whenever appearing promotionally or even when recognized in public by a fan. If Hulk Hogan wished to promote a product while under contract, he could not do it under his birth name of Terry Gene Bollea, he would have to do so under the name of "Hulk Hogan" and in character.

To do otherwise would be tasteless.

Kayfabe is a necessary part of wrestling, carnival freak shows, reality television, and other entertainment establishments of impeccable quality. This still does not bother me - usually only children or the mentally challenged accept such acts as "real". Here is where I am concerned... there are far too many of us who accept the actors in the never ending farce as human beings legitimately expressing their unrehearsed thoughts and feelings. The fictional reality constructed by Media establishments such as Rupert Murdoch's Fox News, or Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal have embraced the Kayfabe to such an extent that their consumers can no longer tell when the act ends and reality begins. Sarah Palin says her part, playing into the fake reality where a publicity seeking television actor is a genuine folksy American being persecuted by the big gay conspiracy for the crime of being a Christian - and that's fine - that is as expected as Macho Man Randy Savage trash talking his opponent before a match. But soon after REAL politicians such as Bobby Jindal and Ted Cruz have felt the need to play roles in this play as well. There are millions of Americans (including possibly your grandparents) taking to "The Facebook" and AOL accounts to "Share" and "Like" and forward chain emails in support of the phony struggle being waged in the play before them. Kids interning as "Social Media Experts" of something similar are spamming websites and Facebook pages for actual political groups and even political parties with support for their wrestler in the ring tonight.

Because a network not paying someone they don't like is "Censorship"

There are REAL struggles that REAL political and cultural groups should be weighing in on. There is going to be a struggle to succeed or fail at extending unemployment benefits in a few days, there is going to be a fight around raising the debt limit to pay for spending congress has already approved in a couple of weeks. There are always economic, health, political and technology stories that absolutely will impact our lives and that we SHOULD be discussing and sharing and learning from each other about. Emotionally investing in one staged struggle after another is exhausting to your soul. There needs to be some caring left over for you family, your work, and your community. The False World that somewhere around 27% of our culture is living in is killing us. It is killing our ability to have a functioning government it is destroying our ability to have a functional economy. It is stealing our lives one stupid minute at a time.

We get the culture we deserve... but I thing we can change our behavior to deserve better, to GET better. Let's not play our roles as passive observers and consumers and hosts to the latest mind virus. Let's challenge the whole system. Let's plant the seed this time, and the next time, when something so blatantly staged is injected into our national culture. If someone says "It's horrible what they did to Phil!" respond with "And it was terrible what The Undertaker did to that muscular man-pantied fellow in that cage match that one time!". If someone states how the Duck Dynasty people are being persecuted for being Christian, mention how it was sad witnessing Stone Cold Steve Austin suffering with alcoholism. Fakery not worthy of the belief of children needs to be known as such.

Maybe this would work. Maybe, on the other hand, this is the best we will ever deserve. There is a frightening trend of professional wrestling fans and devotees of certain political affiliations (That rhyme with "funservative") being of the same membership and tendencies in beliefs. The wife of the head of World Wrestling Entertainment ran for the Senate in Connecticut and now works with a consultancy in Washington D.C.. The WWE had a presence at The 2008 Republican National Convention. The overlap is so strong that the WWE had to have a rare moment in which they needed to break Kayfabe to inform angry Glenn Beck fans that Wrestling is performed by characters and that their struggles are not real. You can view the video here via the Majority Report.

So, short version: Tomorrow, when every homophobe that is showing the early signs of dementia that you know finds a way to email, text, facebook, or pony express you to draw attention to how Phil "Duck Dynasty" Robertson was illegally poked in the eye by AE "Big Gay" Media in last week's title match... remind them it's fake.


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