Duck Dynasty and the Future of Entertainment
Christians and other people of faith are thirsty...thirsty for programming on television and in the movies which is entertaining and that we can watch without concern of vulgarity or violence or the pushing of social propaganda counter to our faith-based beliefs.
Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum alluded to this unfulfilled desire when he said, after being named CEO of the faith-based film institute, EchoLight studios, "I often say that culture is upstream from politics, and I know entertainment also can be strength and light for people who want to be uplifted and reinforced in their values."
Santorum is spot on. Instead of seeing a barrage of programs that mock our faith and lifestyle, we thirst for progams that uplift us, that build us up, and that indeed reinforce the values we are attempting to exhibit and to pass on to our children.
We, who are raising our kids on biblical principles and teachings along with living by them ourselves, are tired, for example, of being inundated with the increased push of the homosexual agenda in media.
According to a report released late last year by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, 4.4% of characters appearing regularly on prime-time television in the 2012-2013 season would be portraying gay, bisexual, or transgender characters. That represents a 45% increase from 2011 when the rate was 2.9%.
The growing number of homosexual characters and storylines on television is not our imagination, it's documented.
Another example of programming offensive to many Christians is in the rather dramatic increase of full frontal nudity on television, according to the Parents Television Council (PTC).
PTC found that, through the first four months of 2013, we were on pace to have more than two times the number of television shows that had full nudity compared to all of 2012. Furthermore PTC found that nearly 70% of the shows were rated TV-PG.
Simple observation and recalling television programs of the past confirms that violence and foul language have also dramatically increased.
"Change the channel...don't rent the movie", some might say and we Christians and people of faith often do just that. The problem is that there are fewer and fewer television programs to turn to or movies to watch that are entertaining and aren't inundated with filth.
But that could be changing thanks to some of my long-bearded fellow Christians along with the most recent successful program released by the creator of Survivor.
The A&E reality series Duck Dynasty, which stars the Robertson family and revolves around their duck callbusiness and strong faith, saw its season three finale capture 8.4 million viewers, nearly double from the season previous and it was the number two original cable series this year. The season three premier episode resulted in the highest rating ever on the A&E network.
Who's watching Duck Dynasty? My family for one, watching the same episodes multiple times and laughing at each still.
In addition to my own family, many Christians are watching. Yes, it appeals to outdoorsmen as well, but the faith of the Robertson family has a prominent role, often being knitted into the episode and always seen at the conclusion of the program when Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the family, offers a prayer of thanksgiving for the food.
As Willie Robertson, one of the stars and the CEO of the family duck call business said regarding the Duck Dynasty program, "Isn't it nice to have a show you can sit down and watch with your children."
Yes it is and the growing viewership numbers for the show are indicative that Christian families yearn for programs that they can watch, absent of offensive material, as a family and that showcase faith as opposed to the myriad of television programs that mock a life of dedicated faith.
Television executives, if for nothing else than potential advertising dollars, would be wise to produce more of this type of programming. One executive did recently and with great success.
Mark Burnett, who created the Survivor reality series on CBS, produced the History Channel's Bible miniseries during the Easter season. The series garnered 13.1 million viewers in its premier and managed to have strong ratings throughout its five two-hour weekly episodes. Due to the success a follow-up series focused solely on the life of Christ could is in final editing.
It's clear that when compelling faith-based programming is produced, Christians and people of faith will come out in great support. Go back to 2004 and recall the success of the Mel Gibson movie, The Passion of Christ. It captured receipts of $370 million, placing it third among all movies that year. It grossed better than $100 million more than Harry Potter and the Azkaban Prisoner and more than double the receipts of the Nicolas Cage movie, National Treasure.
Demand for quality faith-based programming is here. However, the supply remains weak. Santorum can and should be inspired by the success of the History Channel's Bible and the A&E hit program Duck Dynasty.
We Christians and people of faith are yearning for more programs that we can watch with good conscience and it may very well be that more is on the way.
Chad Stafko is a writer and political consultant living in the Midwest. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org