The culture war that rocked Duck Dynasty late last year pitted the reality show’s patriarch against media outlets which willfully misinterpreted his comments about the gay lifestyle.
For son Willie Robertson, the ensuing debate had one happy, happy happy side effect. The country started examining politically correct speech and what people can and cannot believe, he says. That’s precisely the kind of discussion that is healthy for the country.
“I loved it,” Robertson tells Breitbart News.
He hopes a similar conversation ensues after people see God’s Not Dead, a movie pitting an atheist professor (Kevin Sorbo) against a spiritually aware student (Shane Harper).
“Just like this movie where there’s a testing of the faith, there was a testing of the show [last year] … are we just in this for the money, for the fame, or is there something bigger?” he says in comparing the projects.
Robertson appears in the new, faith-based movie opening nationwide Friday. The filmmakers sought out the Duck Dynasty star and even shot his scenes in his home state of Louisiana. Robertson, in turn, applauded how the film challenges audiences in provocative ways.
“It makes you think about what you believe and could you defend your faith,” he says of the film’s storyline.
God’s Not Dead isn’t the only 2014 film with a religious bent. Audiences can expect other faith-tinged film in the weeks to come, including Heaven is for Real, Exodus, Noah and even the more traditional comedy Mom’s Night Out.
Faith-based stories sell, and Hollywood can’t help but notice, he says. And part of the credit goes to a culture chockablock with content parents can’t watch with the whole family. It’s not an accident that two of last year’s biggest small screen smashes were The Bible and Duck Dynasty, he says.
Television today is often filled with people behaving badly for our bemusement.
“There’s not a lot of screaming and cussing [on ‘Duck Dynasty’],” he says. “We’re filling a void there, not that we’re perfect. People find that attractive.”
America understands the Robertsons aren’t like the Kardashian clan or any other reality show family.
“In American we have seen probably the worst of the worst in reality shows and movies. It’s out there, and it’s terrible. We’ve been digesting that. It starts splitting up people … we can’t watch this. We can’t watch that.”
Duck Dynasty, he says, is designed to be seen by children and grandparents alike, and his family’s sense of humor brings the generations together.
Robertson was humbled to see how his show’s fans rallied behind them after his father’s brief suspension, and he couldn’t believe how quickly Cracker Barrel did a 180 after declaring it would no longer stock Duck Dynasty merchandise. He’s not sure he’s ever seen a corporation move that quickly based on a public outcry.
Robertson notes that he bears no ill will toward A&E following the suspension imbroglio.
“You gotta remember, the network greenlit a show with prayer in it,” he says. “We sat down and resolved it fairly quickly.”
The reality show star was part of one of the biggest culture story of 2013, yet he’s still processing what it means to be famous. Recently, he bought a ticket for Son of God and was stunned to see the trailer for God’s Not Dead before the film began.
“I got a little nervous … I looked around [the theater]. I wasn’t used to that. I’m used to being on television,” he says.