Tag Archives: phil robertson

NASCAR is clouding its image with right-wing politics

There are Democrats who enjoy NASCAR. Jews and atheists and women, too.

You wouldn’t know it lately, not after several events this season, including the invocation before Saturday night’s race at Texas Motor Speedway. Duck Commander founder Phil Robertson used the address to pray “that we put a Jesus man in the White House” and noted that “alright Texas, we got here via Bibles and guns.”

Robertson, a star of Duck Dynasty, has publicly voiced his support for Ted Cruz in the presidential race. His son, Willie, has endorsed GOP front-runner Donald Trump, and the family has always been vocal with its conservative beliefs. It shouldn’t have been a surprise when Robertson used his time on stage to push an agenda.

Yet in many ways it was because NASCAR has tried for the last several years to present itself as a sport that embraces diversity, that no longer tolerates many of the racial stereotypes so often associated with the sport.

Last year, NASCAR chairman Brian France took a strong stance against the presence of Confederate flags at race tracks and said he would do everything in his legal power to prevent them from being displayed. It was a progressive move and unusual.

Sports are supposed to be entertainment, after all, and most fans don’t tune in expecting or wanting to see soapbox speeches. It’s why the stick-and-ball leagues try to stay neutral. When they do embrace America, it’s done in safe ways such as the singing of “God Bless America” or recognizing military personnel. The logos for Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NFL are all red, white and blue, and league leaders tend to avoid politics and polarizing positions in an effort not to offend fans who don’t share their views.

NASCAR has always been the exception.

The France family, which owns the series, has long welcomed political candidates at their events and has a history of making public endorsements. NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. endorsed George Wallace for president. Brian France last month endorsed Trump, and even recruited a handful of drivers to attend a Trump rally in Georgia.

The Trump endorsement was met with significant backlash and France said he was disappointed that his record on promoting diversity had suddenly been called into question. He has spent at least the last decade trying to help his family business shed its image as a sport for intolerant rednecks, but there is no away around it: His Trump endorsement put those efforts at risk.

Then came the Robertson commentary on Saturday night, which Texas Motor Speedway officials said Monday they did not know was coming.

The Robertsons and Duck Dynasty had a three-year sponsorship agreement with the speedway, and the contract allowed the family to fill all honorary roles however they chose. The Robertsons even had a lesser-known family member sing a cringe-worthy version of the national anthem, but Will Robertson’s vocals were the least of NASCAR’s problems after the stump speech from the family patriarch.

His stance, coupled with France’s endorsement of Trump, presents a confusing picture of what NASCAR represents.

There are many who oppose the act of giving an invocation before every race because they don’t like religion shoved down their throats, but the pre-race prayer is a longtime tradition that NASCAR doesn’t seem to have any interest in abandoning. In Texas, it happened to give Robertson the chance to promote his conservative views, which ultimately are a reflection on NASCAR.

Three years ago, the Texas speedway allowed the National Rifle Association to be the title sponsor of its spring race just months after NASCAR participated in a deal that put a car in the Daytona 500 that specifically honored the victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting.

It was an embarrassing mixed message and NASCAR swiftly issued guidelines requiring approval for race naming rights. The policy gives NASCAR the option to reject a sponsor if its “brand has been tarnished by controversy, crisis or circumstance such that its association with the event would damage the NASCAR brand or the image of the sport.”

Whether Robertson violated that clause Saturday night is a matter of opinion. Either way, NASCAR needs to take a serious look at the message that is being delivered each week and how entering the political arena is clouding the image France wants to project.


Musical version of ‘Duck Dynasty’ opens in Las Vegas

There is no shortage of beards, camo, hunting and God alongside a bit of recent real-life scandal in Duck Commander Musical.

The Las Vegas show premiered at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino and tells the story of a family duck-call business that led to reality show juggernaut Duck Dynasty.

The 90-minute show with Broadway backers and bonafides, including the company behind Jersey Boys, alternates between something akin to a live-action commercial celebrating the family business to a mostly cheery singing and dancing scrapbook of their tight-knit journey.

Skeptical observers who envisioned a high-kicking dance number complete with hunting rifles and flashy sequin camouflage costumes when they heard of the musical won’t be disappointed. Producers, in on the joke, included one such traditional Broadway-style number. The rest is populated with earnest songs with lyrics such as “there’s no time for rest, this is my quest,” and “be yourself in camouflage” and on the other end, comic relief courtesy of the family’s Uncle Si offering fart jokes and “that’s what she said” replies. Scenes are set against a high-tech stage set of moving screens including appearances by the real-life Robertson family.

Nearly the entire Duck Dynasty family from Louisiana attended the premiere at the Rio hotel and casino, later dining on biscuits and gumbo at an after party.

Missing from the audience and show’s development was bearded patriarch Phil Robertson who was quoted vilifying homosexual behavior in a January 2014 issue of GQ magazine.

Theatre-goers expecting an apology from the actor playing Phil Robertson won’t get one. Instead, they get a glimpse into his long-ago descent into drunken irresponsibility before he finds God and atones in pathos that arrives near the end. The explanation for the comments? Phil was just being Phil. And Phil, like the rest of the family, loves everyone, they sing.

On stage, the subject arrives at first innocuously then ominously with a magazine reporter who after being consistently snubbed by the family patriarch asks: “What are your thoughts on Leviticus?”

In real life, GQ has said the question that led to Robertson’s comments was:: “What, in your mind, is sinful?”

Anyone who read the profile or ensuing coverage knows what’s coming and the play coyly makes no direct mention of the comments themselves.

Emmy-award winning actor Michael Emerson who played Ben on the television show Lost and was in the crowd opening night to support his friends, the show’s creators, said they managed the real world fallout, “in a really delicate way.”

Duck Dynasty patriarch gives Roy Moore thumbs-up

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has a famous ally in his fight against same-sex marriages becoming accepted law.

Phil Robertson, patriarch of cable television’s “Duck Dynasty” series, said the chief justice is “spot on” in his opposition to a federal court ruling striking down Alabama’s constitutional amendment that limits marriage to heterosexual couples.

“Roy, if you hear this, do not back up because you are right on this one,” Robertson said during an appearance at Frazer United Methodist Church in Montgomery.

The Montgomery Advertiser reported Robertson’s remarks.

Moore disputes that the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause grants marriage rights to same-sex couples, as U.S. District Court Judge Callie “Ginny” Granade ruled as she struck down Alabama’s marriage amendment.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to settle the question later this year.

Until then, Moore argues that Granade’s ruling does not bind state courts. Moore cites the legal theory that only the U.S. Supreme Court and the Alabama Supreme Court can definitively settle the constitutionality of an Alabama law.

Robertson has previously condemned same-sex marriage and homosexual activity, along with adultery and sex outside marriage. Robertson describes all those actions as sins that violate God’s law.

“All of our rights do come from God,” he said at Frazer. “They’re inalienable, meaning you can’t move them or transfer them.”

Robertson has also garnered national headlines for remarking that he knew many black Southerners who were happy under Jim Crow laws and for opining that the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases can be attributed to “hippies and beatniks.”

The A&E network briefly suspended the elder Robertson from “Duck Dynasty” amid controversy over some of his statements.

Robertson visited Montgomery with his son Alan, a minister, after having received a freedom-of-speech award at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, an event that several Republican presidential hopefuls also attended.

“It’s kind of ironic that these days, if you exercise your freedom of speech, someone considers it worthy of a reward,” he said at Frazer.

His son, Alan, remains a steadfast supporter of his father.

“You realize that when you say things and you say them strongly that you’re going to bring a reaction and, obviously, some people are not going to like that, but here’s the difference: what we’re speaking is biblical truth and that’s never going to change,” Alan Robertson said. “Since that doesn’t change, we don’t change as messengers of that.”

The Robertson came to Frazer for a fundraiser benefiting Compassion21, an organization that provides mentoring and educational opportunities in urban Montgomery communities. 

New anti-gay comments from ‘Duck Dynasty’ star

A&E has declined to comment on new video of “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson reviving past anti-gay remarks.

His comments are included in a sermon delivered at his church in West Monroe, Louisiana, on Easter Sunday. Robertson includes gays with other groups such as thieves and adulterers as hell-bound sinners.

Robertson is the bearded patriarch of a clan that manufactures duck calls and became reality-TV stars. In December he set off a firestorm after GQ magazine quoted him linking homosexual behavior to bestiality. He also made racist statements.

A&E suspended him for nine days. Robertson issued an apology.

The video was posted this week by RadarOnline. It was posted to YouTube by the Whites Ferry Road Church on April 21.

“Duck Dynasty” is scheduled to begin its sixth season on June 11.

A&E relents, ends suspension of Phil Robertson from ‘Duck Dynasty’

After being suspended from A&E’s reality show “Duck Dynasty” for making hateful comments about gays in a magazine interview, Phil Robertson is returning, the channel said Friday.

Robertson is the patriarch of a hillbilly Louisiana clan that’s become rich making duck calls, which are used by hunters to lure the wild fowls into the range of their firearms.

Last week, the A&E put Robertson on an indefinite “hiatus” because of his condemnatory and anatomically explicit comments about men having sex with men that appeared in a GQ magazine article. Robertson denounced gays as criminals and sinners, causing outrage from the LGBT watchdog group GLAAD and others.

Robertson also made remarks claiming that blacks were blissful in the Jim Crow South. According to Robertson’s revisionist history, African Americans found joy picking cotton and singing spirituals despite the poverty and harsh segregation they endured during that era, during which they were not allowed to vote and were frequently lynched.

A&E said it decided to drop Robertson from the show because it is part of a company whose core values are “centered around creativity, inclusion and mutual respect.”

But A&E’s move against Robertson loosened an avalanche of support from right-wing Christians and others, including notable gays such as writer Andrew Sullivan, who defended his freedom of speech. A petition calling for A&E to bring Robertson back reached 250,000 signatures and counting in about a week. The channel was threatened with a boycott.

A&E said it was bringing Robertson back after discussions with his family and “numerous advocacy groups.” A&E said it intended to launch a national public service campaign “promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people.”

The GQ interview was not the first in which Robertson verbally bashed gay people. In a 2010 speech caught on video, Robertson said: “Women with women, men with men. They committed indecent acts with one another, and they received in themselves the due penalty for their perversions. They’re full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant, God-haters. They are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless. They invent ways of doing evil.”

Robertson’s supporters included former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who complained that his free-speech rights were being trampled. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal complained of a double standard that allowed Miley Cyrus to twerk on TV but cost Robertson his job for expressing the anti-gay hatred that’s at the heart of fundamentalist Christianity.

While reiterating that Robertson’s views are not those of the channel, A&E noted Friday that he has publicly said he would “never incite or encourage hate.” The show itself is more than one man’s views, it added.

“It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family, a family that America has come to love. As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness,” A&E said.

Last week, the family said in a statement on its Duck Commander website that although Robertson’s comments were coarse, “his beliefs are grounded” in the Bible and he “is a Godly man.” They also said, “as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm.”

“Duck Dynasty” is on hiatus until Jan. 15, and the network has said that nine of next season’s 10 episodes have already been filmed. That means Robertson likely wasn’t needed in front of the camera before next March.

‘Duck Dynasty’ creator played gay porn star in popular indie film ‘The Fluffer’

The creator and producer of A&E’s Duck Dynasty played a gay porn star in The Fluffer, a popular independent gay movie that played at the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival.

Scott Gurney starred in the erotic film as a gay-for-pay porn star who’s addicted to crystal meth. Gurney’s character forms an unlikely friendship with his smitten fluffer — the on-set person who fellates porn actors to arouse them for sex scenes. Gurney’s credit in the film is listed on his IMDb page.

Buzzfeed, which is among the websites that have reported the connection, wrote that its calls to both Gurney Productions and A&E, have gone unanswered.

Gurney’s appearance in the film has become a matter of interest amid the ongoing debate surrounding the redneck reality TV show Duck Dynasty. Series star Phil Robertson was suspended from the show after making condemnatory — and anatomically graphic

remarks about gays to GQ magazine. Some gay pundits have joined with right-wing ideologues in defending Robertson’s rights to speak his mind off-camera without facing employment consequences.

In fact, far-right conservatives are hailing Robertson as this generation’s Rosa Parks for expressing his religious convictions about anal intercourse without fear of what they call the “thought police.”

If A&E decides to drop Duck Dynasty over the controversy, at least two other networks are eager to pick it up, according to TMZ. Both the Christian-affiliated Hunt Channel and the Pursuit Channel “are salivating at the chance to air Phil and his duck posse,” TMZ reported.

But contractual obligations could prevent the Robertson family from moving to another network.

‘Duck Dynasty’ star placed on leave after anti-gay, racist remarks

Phil Robertson of the TV show “Duck Dynasty” has been placed on indefinite leave for anti-gay and racist comments he made in the January issue of GQ.

The star of the A&E reality series told the magazine, “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 also said, “It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying?”

He went on, “But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

Robertson’s son Jeb, in the magazine feature, said he’s not as outspoken as his dad on the subject, but “I’m definitely in line.”

GLAAD, a national anti-defamation group and media watchdog, responded with a statement: “Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil’s lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe. He clearly knows nothing about gay people or the majority of Louisianans — Americans — who support legal recognition for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. Phil’s decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to re-examine their ties to someone with such disdain for LGBT people and families.”

Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin also responded, “Phil Robertson’s remarks are not consistent with the values of our faith communities or the scientific findings of leading medical organizations. We know that being gay is not a choice someone makes, and that to suggest otherwise can be incredibly harmful. We also know that Americans of faith follow the Golden Rule — treating others with the respect and dignity you’d wish to be treated with. As a role model on a show that attracts millions of viewers, Phil Robertson has a responsibility to set a positive example for young Americans – not shame and ridicule them because of who they are.”

Griffin added, “The actions of Phil Robertson unquestionably reflect on A&E. The network should take immediate action to condemn Phil Robertson’s remarks and make clear they don’t support his views.”

The NAACP also objected to Robertson’s remarks to the magazine. Robertson said African Americans were happier during the Jim Crow era: “Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.” 

A&E has since released a statement from Robertson, in which he claimed to be a “product of the ’60s” living a life centered on “sex, drugs and rock and roll” until he became a born-again Christian.

Robertson, in the statement, said, “My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together. However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity.”

The network, later on Dec. 19, also announced that Robertson was on leave. It said in a statement: “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series ‘Duck Dynasty.’ His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”

On the Web…

The GQ article.