What Duck Commander is really selling

Duck Dynasty

Phil Robertson may not appreciate me writing about his business or his family.  I’m what Phil would derisively call a “yuppy.”  I don’t own camo, hunt, or have a beard.  That’s not to say I’m some granola PETA-type; I’m a devoted carnivore who loves gumbo, fried fish, and even the occasional boudin link.  Phil lives off the land and, frankly, doesn’t think very highly of the lifestyle the rest of us non-outdoorsy types choose to live.  I dwell comfortably in the suburbs buying my groceries at Kroger where the butcher kindly dresses my meat.  In some ways, Phil and I have about as much in common as Snooki and the Pope, which is why it may seem odd that I have been sucked into Phil Robertson’s world via the uber-popular Duck Dynasty reality show.

Phil’s story fascinates me.

Decades ago, Phil kicked his wife and kids out of his house in a drunken rage.  Phil was more interested in partying and hunting than parenting.  About three months later, he came crawling back to his estranged wife, Miss Kay.  Phil desperately wanted his family back.  Willie Robertson, Phil’s son and CEO of Duck Commander, writes in his autobiography,

“Fortunately for all of us, Kay was strong enough to forgive Phil and take him back.  But she took him back with the following conditions:  Phil had to quit drinking and walk away from his rowdy friends.”

It was at this rebuilding point of Phil’s young life that other things began to change as well.  Willie writes, “From that day forward, Phil started his study of God’s Word.  He attended church several times a week and started going to Bible study nearly every night. He was baptized at the age of twenty-eight and gave up drinking and partying altogether.” Phil’s newfound faith wasn’t a flash-in-the-pan phase.  He continued to serve the Lord and grow in his faith.  Today, he frequently speaks to men’s groups about Jesus.  True to who he is, Phil wears camo to these speaking engagements.

Phil was blessed with, among other things, an entrepreneurial spirit and a vociferous work ethic.  Forty years ago, he invented a double reed duck call that he would self-market, self-produce, and grow into a multi-million dollar company known today as Duck Commander.  Despite his considerable success in the water fowl hunting industry, Phil and his family are probably better known as tv stars than the hunting world heroes they are.

Last week, 6.5 million Americans joined me as I tuned in to watch the antics of the Duck Dynasty cast.  That equates to the largest viewing audience ever on their host network, A&E!  Duck Dynasty has spawned a burgeoning industry of T-shirts, bobble heads, and other trinkets that are flying off the shelves of the West Monroe, Louisiana company’s shelves.  I’m a proud owner of Uncle Si myself!

Uncle SiDuck Dynasty has become a cultural phenomenon.  Phrases like “Happy! Happy! Happy!” and “Hey, Jack!” have become common vernacular.  We can’t wait to see what crazy stunt Willie is going to pull.  We eat it up when Uncle Si spins his own Vietnam-inspired philosophical maxims.  We love it when Kay and Phil act borderline inappropriately frisky.  My wife, even though she denies it, has a mini-crush on Jase and his dry wit.  Each episode unfolds new adventures of clean fun and insight into the slightly bizarre Louisiana culture that the Robertsons are so proud of.  (Note to producers:  We want more Mountain Man!)

No doubt, Duck Dynasty is at the pinnacle du jour of popular culture.  And I have a theory  as to why.

While I enjoy the zany antics of the cast as much as the next fellow, I believe they are not the primary reason for Duck Dynasty’s popularity.  I imagine that the hunting theme is also not that big of a deal to most viewers.  In fact, the show is really not about hunting at all.  I believe the big drawing card for Duck Dynasty is its emphasis on family.  Almost every episode has a “plot” that revolves around family relationships and the natural tension they create in life.  Whether it be sibling, marital, or parental, these relationships play out before our eyes where people act surprisingly decent and respectful.  I believe America is tired of the  “Jerry Springer-ization” that afternoon television has wrought upon us.  We are weary of pregnancy tests that tell who the baby’s daddy is and sisters that sleep with their brother-in-law.  Most families don’t need to turn on the t.v. to see dysfunction played out; it’s happening next door or maybe even down the hall in their own home.  We are exhausted from relationships gone awry, and Duck Dynasty is like some funny, bearded, camouflaged oasis that reminds us that family can work.  The cast remind us that we can resolve our differences without screaming and yelling.  We don’t have to have a revolving door of serial relationships in our lives that leave us emotionally spent and hollow on the inside.  Phil Robertson and his family remind us that family indeed can work.

What Phil would tell you is that family works best when people follow God’s design for it.   That means that, at least for the Robertsons, their faith in Jesus guides them on how they should structure their home life.  Though the show always ends with the Robertsons praying, their faith is downplayed by the producers.  A&E promotes Duck Dynasty with the tag line, “Money. Family. Ducks.”  At the newly-opened Duck Commander store, the word “money” has been scratched off of the posters.  “They give us these to pass out,” Al Robertson, the only Robertson without a beard, said of the posters.  “We ‘X’ out ‘money’ and write in ‘faith.’”  Faith is key in understanding the Robertson mentality and why their families work.

My hope is that Duck Dynasty is only beginning a meteoric rise on the cultural scene.  We need more messages like the one they present.  Numerous shows portray families in non-traditional ways, distorting God’s design.  Each of these sitcoms brings a level of acceptance to culture.  I’ve discovered that people who laugh through what is wrong very rarely slow down and think through what is right.  The Robertson clan gives a much-needed alternative.  The traditional family does work.  They are swimming against the current of culture in a sea of liberal media bias, but, miraculously enough, they are making it.

I imagine that as long as the Duck Dynasty series remains true to its family roots, its ratings will continue to soar.  I have to wonder, though.  Did Phil imagine that when he went crawling back to Miss Kay trying to restore his family, that his journey would lead down this path?  Could he have understood that he would one day have a rare platform to proclaim the benefit of family to culture where families are unraveling faster than a bullet from his favorite rifle?  I doubt he understood all of that back then, but I’m thankful for a bearded man and his family that model faith to a world desperately lacking examples.

It turns out that the most important product Duck Commander markets isn’t duck calls at all – it’s family values rooted in faith.

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About robsumrall

I'm a pastor at the most wonderful church, Crossroads Baptist Church of Elizabethtown, KY. I am married to my best friend and am raising three great kids!
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749 Responses to What Duck Commander is really selling

  1. Arletha Detrick says:

    I have stopped watching sitcoms; they aren’t worth watching, and actually have more unchristian values than christian. Duck Dynasty is the funniest show I have seen for a long time, and fill the gap of sitcoms. It is good to know the family has such a strong faith in God.

  2. Jon Graf says:

    Absolutely right on target. I love Duck Dynasty. My wife and I have often commented how wonderfully down-to-earth the life philosophies spouted by all the Robertson’s are. I pray that the show continues to rise in popularity. I agree that as long as it stays true to what it is, it should remain hugely popular.

  3. Jerry D Kyle says:

    The bible tells us to love our neighbor and not judge each other, that is the Lord’s job. I can imagine Phil is doing better because the Lord is leading him and giving him blessings for turning to him. What happened in his past has nothing to do with the future. That’s between him and the Lord. I believe strongly that the show is promoting family values, that’s why it’s popular. I also believe with Christians being a minority right now it’s a welcomed sight among us. Our Lord is great and works in mysterious ways. Perhaps this is one of them. I accept it, I don’t challenge it. I have children coming up to me talking about the show and almost everytime they bring up how they pray. That’s the greatest thing in the world. Faith, Love and Hope are the key elements to get you in Heaven. I believe this show is helping to promote that.

    • Judy says:

      “Faith in Jesus , that he died and paid for your sins is the element that gets you into heaven. It isn’t your works but His!”

    • kathy says:

      Christians are a minority??? Where do you live? Surely not in the US!

      • Kim says:

        Kathy, I live in the Seattle area and our percentage of people who call themselves Christians is 2.5%. And truth be told, how many people believe in God (even in the south), but in reality have no day-to-day relationship with Jesus.

      • lynn says:

        I wish that were true,but if you check statistics in the US you will find that Christians are a minority. Sad to say this is where we have let ourselves go.

      • Mary says:

        My goodness Kathy, YES unfortunately we are the minority in America or (us) watching TV as an example wouldn’t be so surprised by the beautiful values shown on DD. It sounds like you live in a wonderful community of Christians. Good for you, but trust me the rest of the country has places of absolute unbelief :(.

      • Sheryl Cooper says:

        Unfortunately and sad but very true. People say they are Christians but really have no idea of what they really believe in. They are living like lost people or sometimes even worst. My husband teaches at a small Baptist university in our town and you wouldn’t believe the stories he told me about kids these days what their beliefs. I am an Independent Baptist but I know it’s not about the church and religion, it’s about Jesus Christ, the Gospel and the Bible. We, Christians, have to stand up and quit “tolerating” what the society is forcing us to accept.

  4. Mike Rosenbleeth says:

    I love Duck Dynasty, and I find your story about how Phil rebuilt his life and family through a relationship with Christ inspiring, but I also find it disappointing how the media portrays conservative Christians men. I’d be happier if the “zany antics” where replaced with behaviors that portrayed Christian men as the loving, caring, and intelligent people that we are?

    • I disagree. the show you are wanting would not last; too boring. when I watch this show, I see the loving, caring, intelligent people they are in everything they do, especially when they are sitting around the table, but maybe that’s because they remind me of my Grandparent’s home. And it’s good to know that they are not so devout tha they can appreciate a little clean fun in thair lives. wish there were more shows like theirs.

    • Mike, I had similar concerns about DD. For a long time I resisted it – even when my family was watching because as a Christian and a southerner, I was not thrilled with the prospect of another show that makes us look like redneck idiots. The Robertsons call themselves rednecks, but they are actually well-spoken, witty, and intelligent. Phil himself has a master’s degree. They play up the redneck angle, but anyone who pays close attention can tell these men are far from backwoods hillbillies.

    • Beff says:

      But don’t you just see Jesus and his disciples playing around like that! I totally think that we over “serious” Jesus! If you have ever experienced real christian community- I mean real- brotherhood with a common thread of family and faith – you would be free to have “antics” because it isn’t a relationship built on hypocrisy. I think Jesus laughed and played with the disciples! They were a group of knuckleheads! How fun it is to see a modern family laughing and crazy – and LOVE Jesus! So Mike I’m going to have to disagree :)

      • Sheryl Cooper says:

        I agree, Beff– I can almost picture it in my head– Jesus laughing and having fun with the 12 or Jesus telling stories and laughing with the little children. Precious!

  5. Pat says:

    Proves God has a purpose for our lives.

  6. dpfandfood says:

    Even though I am not a hunter,my 12 year old does enough for all of us, I thoroughly enjoy being able to watch duck dynesty with him. I admire all of them. I do have to say though I would love more of mountain man, I could listen to him talk for hours just to laugh. Its good to see families that are still down to earth even though they are blessed beyond measure with money.. money does change most people. This is one show I will continue to watch as long as it airs.

  7. Thanks for writing this post. I agree with you (especially on needing more Mountain Men on A&E). I wrote a letter to the Duckmen a few weeks ago, that I’m sure they didn’t need to read. I just wanted them to know that all of us out here care and love what they are doing in the raunchy cable market. http://www.mcswaindesign.com/2012/12/go-easy-boys.html

  8. Ashlee Lucas says:

    Love this Thanks for sharing! I did not know his story. Beautiful portrayal of redemption! We love their simple life and their focus on family.

  9. larry peterson says:

    Your story is right on target! The values & morals is what makes me continue to watch this show. If more families were raised the Way Phil & Kay raised there’s, the world would be a better place.
    add the crazy story lines and it’s classic comedy! Great family fun the way tv used to be.
    Jase & Uncle Si Turkey hunting always makes me laugh.
    Great Article!!

  10. Ashlee Lucas says:

    Ha! My husband loves him but our new Labradoodle is named Si:)

  11. Pam says:

    I have fallen in love with Duck Dynasty! I truly believe the Lord has ordained this program to reach thousands upon thousands because they give God Glory! The family values are so precious and so remind us how important each one should be to us.
    I am grateful that the Lord has made a way to reach so many through a precious family in West Monroe, LA. Happy Happy Happy……….Jack!

  12. Tam Sutton says:

    Your story is so true! We too are tired of the vulgarity and non-family value sitcoms and other television shows. We love Duck Dynasty because it is about family values. And it has humor in it as well! Thank you for your story. WE hope that others will also stand up for Christian family values! God bless!

  13. Martha Weston says:

    Well written and well said!!

  14. Kristi Mitchell says:

    Thanks for this great info on our families favorite show. We love it! It’s an amazing family show, for once. My husband is a minister and we promote this show to other families for the exact reason you’ve mentioned in this article. I pray for them that God will use them to show His love for family! My favorite part is the end where they pray and share a meal. Statistics show that families that eat together tend to stay together and communicate better… great example of that.

  15. Megan says:

    HEY! As someone who watches all kinds of tv, I’ll tell you, I am an unapologetic fan of what I call “train wreck” tv. I am a Christian and find myself horrified by what I see on these shows but I return to watch anyways. What I really enjoy is reality based game shows like “Survivor” and “Project Runway”. I initially resisted watching “Duck Dynasty” because I’m a “girly-girl” and having been born, growing up and still residing in one of the Tennessee counties that are home to the famously earthquake made duck hunter haven, Reelfoot Lake, I’ve seen my fair share of camo. Even when my old elementary school, which I used to live across the road from, hosted the “Duck Commanders” to be guest speakers, I stayed away. Just recently, my husband and I decided to watch the show because everyone else was. We were blown away. The Robertsons were like a wonderfully refreshing blast of clean, cold air on a 120 degree heat index day. (which we see a lot of during the summer!) I even said to my husband, “I wish they had all the different shows the Kardashians have!” And I love to watch the Kardashians. The Robertson families love for God, one another, and their Louisiana customs and culture are nothing less than inspiring. We can honestly say that we FEEL good, when watching “Duck Dynasty”. A show that does that to you is very hard to come by. It makes us, happy, happy, happy! We will be fans for the rest of our lives. JACK!

  16. Melinda says:

    Amen! You nailed it right on the head. I love DD and their faith & family values. (Tell your wife she’s not alone in the Jase mini-crush…)

  17. Iva Martillo says:

    I started watching Duck Dynasty at my son’s urging.My husband had passed and I was woo sad.The first episode I watched is where the wives got stuck on the scissor lift and then the skunks run everyone off.I laughed till I cried.Been a fan ever since.Its so funny and I can watch it with my grandchildren.So please don’t change anything and keep us laughing.

  18. Steve Bush says:

    It doesn’t take a blog writer to explain what the show is supporting or selling. I caught on to it the very first episode.I do like your article and you are spot on with it. I think more families should live by the example set by the Robertson’s and I pray that the audiences understand the meaning of what the show is trying to relay to them.I love hunting and I love family. I also love the Lord. This show is the absolute best reality show ever created and I wish more shows would steer to this route.

  19. Kim Rood says:

    This family is as real on TV as they are in life. I’ve had the honor to hear Al preach and interact with Phil as well. Phil in fact was a shoulder for my mom while she dealt with my alcoholic father during their residence in Ruston, LA (they attended White’s Ferry CofC)

  20. Wilbern, Pat, Mark and Brandon says:

    Duck dynasty is about the only tv show you can watch with your children,grandchildren, and the preacher and you wife and friends.
    that dont have lots of cussing and dirty words. I dont know too many people that likes all that dirty talking. the good tv programs andy griffith, red skeleton. was about all there was phil keep them lined up keep up the good shows.

  21. It is a great change from most of today’s shows, my entire family loves to watch this show! The family is so simple in the things they do and they set morals for their young. I loved the episode where they sent the teen daughter to stay the fay with Kay b/c her texting had gotten out of hand! She learned to do some plumbing and Kay tried to teach her to cook (she cooks more like her mom) Phil gave her a report card! She said she had a great day and didn’t think about her phone all day!

    • Jane Schwieterman says:

      i loved that show to Shirley.Pap-paws and Grandma’s are suppose to have quality time with their Grandkids too,not just spoiling them,and sending them home.I do wish the grandkids would call them something besides Ms Kay.I think that is disrespectful to not call them Grandma and Grandpa.They have earned that title.I love the show and I got each of my grown son’s and Grandchildren Season One video’s for Christmas. Season two will be out in March.
      I also loved the episode where the guys were teaching Sadie to drive.She is such a sweet girl.

  22. Mike says:

    The truth of Romans 8:28

  23. Beth Skinner says:

    thanks for a great article.

  24. Butch says:

    I totally agree, it is so refreshing to see a show that puts family values above everything else!! I have often said I like the way each show ends with the family around the table and how they always pray before each meal.

  25. Dale Blackstone says:

    We love everything about the show. The last show I really felt comfortable watching with my kids was the Cosby Show. Now the grandkids come over and we will watch all the reruns of it until our stomachs hurt from laughing. After each show we will pause and discuss the lessons that were in that episode. It has become a great teaching aid and now the kids point out to us what the lessons were. Planning a road trip to visit Whites Ferry Rd. Church of Christ to worship with them soon. Keep it going please.

    • Pam says:

      I totally agree with you about The Cosby Show. I thought the exact same thing. :-) We love watching this show with our kids. :-)

  26. Thank you for a refreshing article about a refreshing show. I agree, this is what America could use more of.

  27. Terry Scott says:

    I love to watch DD with my wife and grandchildren. It is safer to watch than the Disney channel and a whole lot more entertaining. When you can get 9 yr old and 13 yr old girls to watch 4 hours of uninterrupted clean wholesome TV, now that is a God send!!!
    Praise God for Duck Dynasty!

  28. Reblogged this on smallmouthfever and commented:
    Great article.

  29. Teresa says:

    Mountain Man gets on my nerves without Si….We need more Si !!! He is the main one who is so funny on there….not to mention the ways he says things. LOL And that is a Fact Jack!!

  30. shannon davis says:

    I Don’t get to watch the show.I am in between the “BAREFOOT HILLBILLY” TYPE AND THE “SUBURBAN YUPPIE” type. BUT I have heard about the show and it’s family oriented values. Ibet it is a nice change of pace from the drug use, adultery messages in most sitcoms on air today. BUT I blame that on political correctness, and GOD being a tabu subject in todays society. BUT FAMILY is the main plot in the story line that is mylife. ROC
    K ON DUCK DUDES!

  31. Wendy says:

    I rarely watch tv anymore because most shows are just pure filth. Our nation has turned its back on God and until we turn back to Him, things won’t get better. It’s nice and refreshing to have a show where people actually PRAY, don’t cuss, don’t cheat on their spouse and live the way God intended us to live
    MORE SHOWS LIKE THIS!!!!!

  32. I agree about the value of the show in producing family values, but on the other side, they come off as the most Ignorant people on tv. example: when the owner of d/c purchased a winery online and go to the vineyard in the winter time and expect to see grape on the vine and go home and try to make wine from table grapes purchased a a grocery store. come on! really? surely this stuff is scripted for them. they can’t really be that ignorant.

  33. Earlene says:

    Love Duck Dynasty, I enjoy all the values and antics that are in the shows. But the one that grabs my attention most is the respect they all have for Phil and Miss Kay. I have never seen any disrespect shown by the boys or their wives or kids. This is something that is not shown in our society these days. I have also noticed that the respect goes both ways also. This is a lesson that all could learn from. Thank you for the opportunity to express my thoughts on this fantastic show.

  34. Jenny says:

    My 9 year old loves this show because “they don’t cuss!”

  35. Debbie Owens says:

    I had heard about DD from a friend and really didn’t want to get hooked on another show. Then I saw more and more comments on FB about it and thought these people are not going to pull me into watching another show. I don’t watch a lot of TV. So just out of curiosity my husband pulled up on line an episode where Si ate all the donuts and won the camper. And they hauled it out in the middle of nowhere. We looked at each other and laughed so hard. We even have it DVR at my daughters house so when we go over there we can watch it with them. It is a good wholesome show with good values. We need more shows like that. Maybe they will lead with this example. As a Christian I love the prayer at the end of every show. God Bless DD and the entire family.

  36. Will says:

    I think this article is right down the alley an’ up the block… This family conduct themselves in a loving way toward each other… They work out the problems that occur amongst themselves… They pray and ask blessings for their meals… And they trust God for the very existence … It is no wonder that there are people who cannot understand this, or who judge them by what they wear… That’s the way of carnal man… For those who love God, who trust in Jesus Christ, and who understand the great commandment that we love one and other as we love ourselves, this is inspiring and uplifting… Its way past due for us to get back to the simple things in life… Popular music, money, “style”, and all those other things that are based in false pride and hubris, are only distractions from what is truly important while we are here on earth… I’m glad to see the people of duck dynasty doing so well… They are proof better relationship with God is to our success than caving in to the secular world… My thoughts and prayers go out for these people, as I’m sure there are plenty of temptations in this life, and many are being brought on by the producers of the show…

  37. John Caviness says:

    My wife and I really enjoy this show. It is like a breath of fresh air. One of the few shows on tv worth watching today. A ray of light in a society of darkness.

  38. We do NOT want more Mountain Man! Other than that, love the show and the family values it portrays.

  39. Kim says:

    Best show on TV I wish more people could watch and learn from the Robertson’s. They are true down to earth family with good morales and believe in God and they don’t mind showing there true colors and faith in God. Love Love Kive this show “Jack” for you Uncle Si… Keep more DD coming A&E.

  40. I read this article on December 30. It is very true! What a great article! Phil so happens to be my 2nd cousin and know a lot about him and found out even more about him while reading this article

  41. Leigh ann says:

    I like Duck Dynasty however there was a recent episode were Phil was talking to Miss Kay about having “rough sex”, how appropriate is that? It is not a show I would allow my children to watch

  42. mary says:

    This article is right on target. They really have it right. Faith, family pursuit of hapiness and then everything else.

  43. Tammy says:

    i watch this show faithfully….it is one of the best shows i have watched in many years…better than anything on public television and most shows on cable…

  44. JoandAsh says:

    My husband and son are hunters and love this show. My son always comments on the way the family prays together at the end of each show. It is funny and clean with a little about real life stuff we all deal with. These type of shows are what people really want to see, not the filthy stuff that most aire daily. We all loved, “Leave it to Beaver” and “Mayberry”. Duck Dynasty should be applauded on how they bring God into the show, which isn’t popular in today’s time. Good for them!!!

  45. C B Clifton says:

    It is so nice to sit down and watch a show without every other word being bleeped out! After the first 2 or 3 bleeps…my channel changes!

  46. Willard (rush) pinson says:

    love the program, , its the 2013 of the 1960es beverly hillbliiys

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