The main attraction distraction, got you number than numb. Empty your pockets son, got you thinkin' that what you need is what they're selling. Make you think that buying is spreading the Gospel. Ain't nobody explain yet the exact role of the Willie beard Chia Pet plays in the message of God's love. It's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter Heaven. There's a Bible quote that ain't making it into the interview. Life in America is fake life, and the moral outrage directed at A&E is little more than a simulacrum of the real thing. Woe be upon white evangelical conservatives. I mean, I understand that key to the rhetorical legitimacy of any group is some configuration of persecution, but I would think that at some point, if they really want to be God's Truth, they would feel the need to upgrade, per Phil Jackson, from a stage 4 tribal culture to a stage 5, i.e. “a rare stage characterized by a sense of innocent wonder and the strong belief that 'life is great.'” (See Bulls, Chicago, 1995–98.) I mean, is this a religion y'all or is it a schematic of co-dependency? Two crabs in the Holy Grail. And yet, I understand the frustration. When Hollywood has open disdain for your reality, when the only representation you get to see of yourself is an offensive caricature, when for once, something intended as minstrelsy makes it on TV but ends up being some real-ass shit, and when the driving force behind said realness says something that upsets the sanitized image necessary to sell DVDs and merchandise, and the suits don't want to own what they hath wrought, so they just try to “resolve” the situation as quietly as possible. The rural white Christian persecution complex has some basis in reality. Northern liberals and cultural taste-makers have always tried to ethnicize and other-ize the white South, you know “those” people, we should have just let them secede anyway. This goes way back to the beginning. The South was always at odds with the Hamiltonian secular industrial project put forth by New England & co. The problem with Louisiana is that it just needs to be more like Massachusetts, that they just have the wrong opinions. Take away the whole slavery/Jim Crow thing, and I might almost be a sympathizer. And yet, if there had been a black family that had gotten rich off a chicken recipe, with a colorful avuncular patriarch who just so happened to be a devoted follower of Louis Farrakhan, even TV One wouldn't have picked that shit up. The mere existence of Duck Dynasty, and especially the rapid proliferation of its merchandise, the prefiguration that A&E operated under, that they could have picked this turd up by the clean end in perpetuity is a bold as day manifestation of white privilege. However, we'd be straight trippin' if we lost sight of the real fault lines under this controversy, and of the culture war itself. Initiated 21 years ago by Pat Buchanan in his keynote speech at the Republican National Convention, the culture war, much like the Civil War, fronted a lot but was really only about one issue: the evils of homosexuality, and on that front, General Buchanan has indeed suffered great losses. Almost all of his doom-saying predictions have come true. Indeed, we had almost reached a detente, the Great Battle of Chick-Fil-A aside. This focus on homosexuality by the right ain't tiltin' at windmills though. Most of what we understand homosexuality to be is a product of industrial capitalism, of a form of social organization in which the family was no longer an economic unit, in which thousands of men were living in cities in close quarters away from their families. John D'emilio explains it better than I can in his essay “Capitalism and Gay Identity,” but the main point is that, before the Industrial Revolution, who you liked to bang bore an ancillary relation at best to the formulation of your family, instead of being the primary determiner. Indeed, the word “homosexual” didn't even exist until the 19th century. Inasmuch, then, as our modern understanding of homosexuality is a product of capitalism, it serves as an ideal social cause for the legitimation of global capital and its resultant empire. Witness: the Human Rights Campaign's latest global initiative bankrolled by a hedge fund manager or Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz's robust upbraiding of an insufficiently progressive shareholder re: gay marriage. None of this, of course, is to discount the work of righteous queer activists, or to say that the struggle for gay rights has some sort of shady neoliberal agenda, just that said struggle as practiced by corporate America does. And herein lies the disconnect. A&E's proclamation of being “strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community” is an affectation at best. You can bet your ass that there are no reality shows about the plight of homeless queer youth in the pipeline. And yet, that affectation carries grave consequences for one the few shows that manages to portray the South with anything resembling dignity. And while, it is true, that A&E probably could have had short term gains being the channel that defies the gay mafia in order to bring you God's truth, they're in that long game son, that global game, that long game that all them socialism-hating patriots can't bear to admit is really at play, that game that the John Birch Society has been warning about for a minute. Key to the insidious appeal of America's cultural empire is that it represents the forces of freedom and progress, such that to oppose it is to find yourself on the same side as the Taliban (side note: the resurgence of the use of the phrase “gay mafia” with sincerity is definitely my greatest Christmas present. Praise White Santa). Taken in that light, the controversy seems remarkably silly. Indeed, life in America is life in a snow globe, a performance, television contract or no, a performance of the values of freedom and democracy. Because, as we are often told by many of these selfsame outraged commentators, living in this country is an immense privilege, and as such we don't have anything to complain about. So instead, we build artifices that resemble elements of actual life found in other parts of the world. Instead of a town square, we have Facebook. Instead of tribal warfare, we have football, and instead of religious persecution, we have the gay mafia. This is necessary, of course. The more we live in our own insular world, the more controversy we are able to manufacture at home, the less we have to think about the effects of our actions on the rest of the actual world. Mark Twain said “It was wonderful to find America, but it would have been more wonderful to miss it.” Truly, because to discover the truth about America might mean that we'd have to do something about it. Address all hate mail to, follow on Twitter @petermgunn

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