Duck Dynasty: Redneck Feng Shui and the limits of responsibility

Norman Byrd's picture

Responsibility is a wonderful thing but only as good as the people willing to exercise it -- and with rednecks, like the Robertsons of "Duck Dynasty," the borders of what is responsible and irresponsible behavior is often blurred and negotiable.

Rednecks aren't known for being responsible. It's not that they are particularly irresponsible, either. It's just that they place lackadaisical parameters on the everyday things -- like organization and accumulating things. The Robertson clan explored a few of those lackadaisical parameters on "Duck Dynasty."

But there is nothing given more grudgingly than cooperation from rednecks that don't see a problem...

There were three responsibility storylines in the "Spring Pong Cleaning" installment. There was professional responsibility, personal responsibility, and responsibility to others. It all began with personal: Uncle Si, Jase and the Duck Commander crew found some muscadine grapes, whereupon Jase began hankering for some of Mrs. Kay's homemade muscadine jelly and they began gathering said grapes. Si popped one in his mouth then spit it out, noting that the grapes were foul. Muscadines that taste bad? A little detective work and it was discovered that Si had sampled some raccoon droppings. It was also discovered that Si hadn't seen an eye doctor since the 90s...

The second storyline was professional: There are some things that denote a particular lifestyle. In the case of rednecks, hard work and hard play are examples. At the same time there is a slippage in personal responsibility. Most rednecks don't fall to the level of white trash and hoarders but many do tend to accumulate things: aged, functional, obsolete, slightly used, brand new, partially discarded, and forgotten things. They usually don't reach the state of hoarding, although some might find a few examples of hoarding starter kits here and there. But they'll never be accused of being neat-freak-clean bordering on OCD, either. Rednecks accumulate things, usually in an organized disorganization: leaving stuff where it was last placed or where it was last used or where it was placed to be used later or stored. It's called redneck feng shui.

The Robertson women found a problem with the lack of organization at the Duck Commander warehouse and complained to Willie, who promised to get the guys to clean up the place. Although Willie found more of a problem with the women in the warehouse messing with the redneck feng shui, he thought it might be simpler to just get things more organized than to fight about it. So he set Jase and crew the task and left. As usual, that was a mistake.

The third responsibility storyline centered around family responsibility and the teaching of social skills (responsibility to others). Phil, the patriarch of the Robertson clan, conscripted his gradson's John Luke (Willie's son) and Cole (Jase's son) to help him procure a mess of crappy for a fish fry. He found them oblivious to the world on the sofa playing video games. Two things that Phil has problems with: Yuppies and nerds. He has determined that he will save his grandsons from being nerds and the world from having to suffer two more of them. The boys were reluctant but Phil finally got their attention and soon had them in a boat.

While the guys set about trying to reorganize the warehouse, another member of the Robertson clan, Jessica (a sister-in-law of Jase and Willie's), showed up to take Si to see an optometrist for new eyewear. After two decades of not seeing his eye doctor, Si has Jessica riding all over town. Si, who is never lost or at a loss for words, got them lost (or simply couldn't remember where his optmetrist's office was located -- if it still existed at all). And when Si asks her what a tiny sign says, she notes that Si's eyes are weak (he can't read a regular highway sign) and she's had enough, so she takes him to see her optometrist.

The doctor tells Si he's legally blind (and Jessica chides that he's been driving while blind) and asks if he's considered laser surgery. Si asked, "What is this, Star Wars?" He declines laser surgery. But he does get new glasses.

Meanwhile, back at the warehouse, Jase, Godwin, and the boys, basically just tossing things around and making a bigger mess, have found a ping pong table and game equipment. So, of course, they had to see if it "worked." And as Jase explained, being rednecks, they also had to come up with new rules to make the game more violent. So regular ping pong became "red belly ping pong," where the loser of a match would be subjected to a red belly treatment: A blistering shot of ping pong balls to the exposed stomach.

Willie returned and finds them at play. He demanded they get back to work. Jase, pressing just the right buttons to challenge Willie ("you're afraid you'll lose," "you're not good at ping pong," etc.), maneuvered him into playing as well. Jase had been winning most of the matches but Willie gets the best of him. And when Jase loses, he pulls his shirt over his head. Just as Willie started to wind up to deliver a red belly shot to his brother's alabaster stomach, the women walked in.

Out on the water, Phil, who is usually rather reticent, has tried drawing his grandsons into conversation. After getting next to nothing out of them about the appeal of video games, he switched the subject to girls. They might have said even less. Phil figured that the boys were going to have to find some talkative girls to balance out their inability to hold down at least half of a conversation. At least he had tried...

So the Robertson's gathered at the family table at show's end. Phil said grace, as was customary. In the voiceover, Willie admitted that responsibility and rednecks often have a loose relationship. Taking care of oneself, trying not to let the redneck feng shui become hoarder heaven (or even white trashy), and taking the time to do time (as opposed to spending quality time) with younger family members in order that they learn what's proper aren't the easiest aspects of life even if one happens to not be a redneck. But irresponsibility is always a little more amusing when not experienced personally.

And the Robertson clan certainly know how to dish up some amusing examples of irresponsibility and the lengths some will go to maintain the boundaries.

"Duck Dynasty" airs on AETV on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. (EST).

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