Freedom of speech is enshrined in the US Constitution, unfortunately so is freedom of stupidity. The fuss over Phil from Duck Dynasty’s comments in his GQ interview illustrates this only too well as it follows all the standard lines, (His comments were offensive. …He has a right to free speech…. He was just stating his religious views… His religious views are outdated …….) I can’t help wondering if we brought this all on ourselves.
Any American has to right to hold true any crazed randomness that comes into their head. They have the right to share it with anyone they choose. The internet gives them the ability to share their personal brand of insanity far and wide. But the rest of us don’t have to listen. No one forces us to share, retweet or give the crazies more publicity.
Reality TV is the modern day version of traveling freak shows. Snookie, Phil and the rest of the reality TV ‘celebrities’ are the modern elephant man and bearded lady. Together with the voyeuristic appeal of reality TV, is this thrill of revulsion from watching characters we’d run from in real life. Safe in our living rooms we can be titillated by lives so unlike our own. We want our reality TV stars to be outlandish and outspoken. It adds to our enjoyment. But we don’t actually want them to be real. The thrill of revulsion is only safe if it stays within the script.
Phil stepped outside of his permitted script. Apparently he didn’t know that he was allowed to be ‘himself’ as long as he kept his less mainstream views private. You could say he only has himself to blame. In truth, responsibility lies with the A&E network, the show’s 14 million views, and all of the rest of us following the debate online. We are the ones that gave a platform to one man’s personal views.
Next week the media will have moved onto a new scandal. No one will have changed their view on gay marriage. No one will have developed a more nuanced reading of the Bible. I doubt any non-believers soul will have been saved. But we will all have been entertained. At what prices comes our entertainment?