Not that everything had been going well up until then, but when the media firestorm erupted over the decision by A&E to suspend patriarch Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty over remarks he made about gay people, well, things got out of hand.
In the days that followed his suspension, free-speech advocates and gay-rights advocates and religious-rights advocates and other folks advocating other stuff turned Phil into everything from a persecuted Christian to a homophobic bigot.
The “rights” folks seemed to have a good time doing it, but they wore me out.
Then, even as Phil’s persecution and praise was reaching a crescendo, the news reached me that down in Mobile the same thing was happening, sorta.
In the City by the Bay, the organizers of the New Year’s Eve “Moon Pie over Mobile” parade had gone out and uninvited a homegrown group of performers the Moon Pie folks had invited to help them welcome the new year.
Now, why would the parade organizers do that?
Because they discovered the group intended to “prance” instead of march.
Although the name should have given them away, apparently none of the sponsors bothered to check out the “Prancing Elites” any more than A&E executives bothered to keep a close eye on Phil.
So when the “all male, gender-bending, drag-queen” review “shocked” onlookers at the Christmas parade up the road in tiny Semmes ( population 3,115), Moon Pie organizers began to wonder if sensitive Mobilians might also be shocked by a gaggle of guys strutting their stuff in hot pants, bare midriffs and skimpy Santa tops.
I mean, Mobile isn’t New Orleans, where strutting and prancing hardly get a second glance or a raised eyebrow. Mobile is, well, Mobile.
So the folks running the parade decided that prancing was not appropriate at their “family friendly” event and took back the invitation they had earlier extended.
The Elites, according to the group’s captain, were just “crushed.”
Now, folks, let me say this about all that.
If A&E executives watched Duck Dynasty, they shoulda known that Phil was likely as not to say what he said, but apparently they don’t, so it sorta serves them right. Still, a simple “there goes old Phil again” from A&E, followed by a disclaimer, would have laid the matter to rest.
Meanwhile, Moon Pie over Mobile organizers shoulda known that the Prancing Elites were gonna, well, prance, and if prancing was not appropriate in a parade honoring a couple of graham crackers with marshmallow between and dipped in something-or-other, then Prancers should not have been invited in the first place.
There is enough “shoulda known” to go around twice over.
But let’s not dwell on past problems, slipups and shortcomings. Let’s end the year on a happy note.
Once again, the power of the media and public opinion comes to the rescue.
In the face of all the fury, A&E considered what might happen if Phil and family decided to take their show elsewhere – CMT, for example – so Phil was reinstated.
As for the rumor that the Congress of Craven Capitalists issued a statement supporting a company’s right to hire, fire or suspend without regard to race, creed, sex or national origin, it ain’t true.
I made it up.
Not only is Phil is back on the show, but supporters are putting their money where their vocal chords are. Duck Dynasty products are flying off the shelves as never before. Even Uncle Si’s Chia Pets are selling out.
Couldn’t have worked out better if they had planned it. (You think? Naah.)
Meanwhile, the Prancing Elites are reportedly “shaking it all over YouTube” as social media takes up their cause. Pledges of more than $15,000 have come in to help the Elites secure a “safe practice space” (safe from what?) along with “new costumes and shoes.” Parade organizers in Milwaukee, Chicago and even Boston have contacted the group, and the Big Easy Roller Girls over in New Orleans have invited them to appear at halftime at one of their matches. And wait, that’s not all.
The Pink Box Burlesque of Tuscaloosa wants the Elites to join it on stage next season.
I did not realize there was a burlesque season in Tuscaloosa (or burlesque, for that matter). But I suppose that football, baseball, basketball and such are not enough for some people in T-Town. Maybe with the Prancing Elites on their team, Pink Box will win a national championship in “stripping and strutting” to go with all the other trophies.
And maybe, in a gesture aimed at bridging the obvious gap between Phil and the Prancers, the Elites could wear camo hot pants.
Happy New Year.
Harvey H. (“Hardy”) Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University and a columnist and editorial writer for The Star. Email: email@example.com.