I would like to start of by saying that I am a huge fan of Louisiana's own Duck Dynasty. I enjoyed writing the recaps for last season and have enjoyed every single one from when I started watching way back in season 1 after it happened to air after an episode of Storage Wars, which I was strangely fascinated with for a minute. When I watched the Duck Dynasty pilot and the credits started to roll with the beards, camo suits, and ZZ Top, I thought A&E was off their rocker. I thought they must have been extremely hard up for reality shows if they were going to follow around a family who made their fortune from duck calls, of all things.
But I kept watching for some reason, they hooked me as easily as one of the bearded guys would hook a fish. They're just so damn endearing and unpretentious. And the ones that kept me watching were not Willy and his wife Korie, who seem like lovely people, but it was Phil, Miss Kay, Jase, and Si that I watched for. Sure, they were in front of cameras, but they were authentic. They seem like don't give a damn what people think, or about what some other bullshit is going on in the world, they seem like they are just themselves and do exactly what they want to do. They're just so ... zen. It's fascinating to me. I feel like it takes such courage to figure out exactly who you are and what you want to do ... and then go out and actually do it.
Phil Robertson gave up a lucrative football career because football season interfered with hunting season. Hunting made him happier. Now how many people do that in this world? Give up what could be serious amounts of money for something that many would call a hobby? Yet he did it. And he still ended up rich. To me it's a reminder of something that I feel is a fundamental truth; be true to who you are and you can't really go wrong.
And obviously I don't know these people in real life, but most of the Robertsons seem very present. Down to Earth. People who are present and in the moment I feel are just naturally more charismatic, more appealing. People who are present are the ones you find yourself wanting to be around, the ones you want to spend your time with. It's not fun hanging out with someone who is constantly worried about the past or the future, always looking at their phone, never making eye contact, thoughts always somewhere else, what's next on the schedule, always looking at watches and clocks with darting eyes. On the show, the family is portrayed as just being able to enjoy the simple things, like how they had an episode dedicated to getting honey out of a bee hive. That's it. That was the episode. But it was funny. If only we could have as much fun with the simple things. To be present and aware enough to relish in all the silly things that happen to us.
I'm not one for hunting and truth be told, I really find those pictures that hunters take with their kills, kneeling down next to them like they're posing with Mickey Mouse at Disney World, very garish and morbid. I don't really get it. But what I do get is one of the things people love about hunting so much is the communion with nature, the stillness of the wilderness compared to our city lives. It's a form of meditation, which tends to sharpen the senses and teaches you how to be present. A guy who can't be alone with his thoughts won't like hunting very much. You must enjoy stillness. My grandpa was one of those guys who was enamored with it. You go into the woods for a hunting trip, and sometimes you come out a camouflaged Gandhi.
But having said all that, am I the only one who thinks things have gotten out of hand? Oh my God, the merch is everywhere, especially if you go to Walmart. Did you see the Christmas special, "O Little Town of West Monroe?" The episode started inside a damn Walmart, right under a big Walmart sign where Willy, Jase, and their wives were doing some holiday shopping ... probably sometime last summer.
I'm also pretty sure that the entire family plus Godwin and Martin (and maybe Mountain Man) should have gotten a SAG card out of their work on the show, because most of them are pretty great actors and pretty great at improv. They should also probably stop calling it a reality show and more of a sitcom. And hey, I'm not knocking it, it's still funny and I laugh my butt off every episode even though I know it's contrived, but let's be honest here, this "reality" show probably has a writers room nearby.
The show is also treated like a superhero franchise or a kid's cartoon with the amount of stuff you can find with the Duck Dynasty logo slapped on it, or things you can attach beards to. They even have action figures. Action figures for heaven sake! And God help me, but I kind of want a Jase Robertson figure for Christmas, it even comes with a tiny duck call, frog and a snake.
Also during the very special Christmas episode, while at Walmart, they mentioned that the perfect gift for the fellas back at the warehouse was "beef jerky and bullets" ... and do you want to know what they just so happen to sell at Walmart?
Duck Dynasty Beef Jerky. I didn't go back to the gun section to see if they have Duck Dynasty bullets. I'm sure they do.
With each new arbitrary product I saw in the stores (like beard birthday cards at Walgreens), I thought more and more about doing a fun list of crazy things they should make into Ducky Dynasty products, like their own brand of Novocaine from the John Luke/Dentist episode ... but I came to find that the actual knick-knacks I kept finding were crazier than any joke list i could come up with in my head.
It's gotten so crazy that a friend and I even started a kind of game. We send each other pictures of weird Duck Dynasty stuff we find. She sent me this pic of her daughter and a Jase Robertson pillow, which I may or may not want also want for Christmas.
I'm beginning to think that they realize it's ridiculous and they're just having a good joke on the American public, I mean, how can they not be laughing somewhere that someone is buying their Duck Dynasty shower scrunchies?
Are they trying to cash in while they can? While the show is still popular? Is it some huge Andy Kaufman-esque joke? I have no idea. All I know is I still love the show, despite the inexplicable custom line of eyeglasses at the Walmart vision center. They still make me laugh, even though I realize the whole thing is staged. They're all just so damned likable ... and I'm having fun relishing in the sillyness of taking pictures of Duck Dynasty products and sending them to my friends. It's the little things.
p.s. Jase is kind of my favorite, in case you couldn't tell.