Friday, January 03, 2014

Let's not appear superficial here

Much has been made of how clean-shaven and yuppie-esque the Duck Dynasty guys were prior to being immortalized on A&E as grizzly, camo-clad rednecks. I've laughed about it myself.

But I don't think this is a case of hypocrisy as many are claiming. The guys in the above picture are more or less the same people below. They were probably just as rabidly right-wing in their views then as they are now. And just as concerned about image, albeit in a different social setting. That commands a sort of respect, because at least it's consistent. If these guys were former liberals who tossed their principles to appease their target audience, that would be pretty loathsome. As it is, these guys did what pretty much everyone does on reality TV: magnify their images. It's for show, after all.

We all do this in our real lives on some scale, whether it's wearing a snazzy outfit or just brushing your hair a certain way. Sometimes, guys grow facial hair and/or shave it off. Sometimes we adopt different looks entirely, and later disown them. Just in the past couple of years, I've cycled haircuts between 1990s grunge rocker and military recruit and back again. I (occasionally) dress more for what the world expects than what I'd rather wear. But the person I am doesn't fundamentally change. 

To me, what makes the Robertsons' metamorphosis funny is how extreme the change is; people rarely go from golf to grizzled with such ferocity. But the lesson here isn't that these guys are frauds, because they're not any more than all of us are — it's that appearance only matters so much.

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