By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Where were you when Duck Dynasty invaded your space? I was smack dab in the middle of learning how to produce Athens Now, and the wisdom, love, and antics of the Robertson family were refreshing and encouraging. When Alan Robertson came to Athens as the keynote speaker at a Women’s Resource Center dinner, I showed him a picture of my husband Steve, who honestly could be a body double for Uncle Si. In fact, from the stage, Alan quipped, “Uncle Si has been seen running around loose in Athens. I know, because someone showed me his picture tonight.” He then explained that it was a guy who looked so much like Si Robertson that it was spooky. I agreed, and back in the day Steve actually would have people in truck stop parking lots ask for his (meaning Uncle Si’s) autograph.
Duck Dynasty “merch” was in every big box variety store, birthday cards had a picture of Phil and his boys which had sayings like, “The beards have spoken,” and then, predictably, after about five years they faded away some. However, I am pleased to report that Phil (and Miss Kay) are back in full force in the form of a new feature film entitled, The Blind. It is the raw, unvarnished story of how, as Miss Kay says in the movie to a much younger Si, “When he drinks, he is the devil.” Phil Robertson is very open about the fact that he was a mean, violent drunk, a drug addict, had a child out of wedlock, and became a general loser. He gives God the glory for the changes in his life, and his son, Willie, who is one of the producers of the film, said recently in an interview: “If we can show this and show how you were and show how your family was and how you had really messed everything up through sin…and show that you can be redeemed, I think at that thought [Phil’s] like ‘Well, if it helps someone…be open to the gospel and receptive.’”
And that’s just what they did. They did not hold back on anything—Phil’s violence, kicking Miss Kay and the boys out into the night in a drunken rage, and what it took for Phil to completely surrender to God. Ironically, the people who play the parts of Phil and Miss Kay back in the ‘60s are from Britain, but you would never know it. They completely pull of their roles in a most convincing manner.
The scenery is stunning, the story is compelling, and the impact that Phil and his family have had continues unabated, even though the highly successful reality show is no more. This is a family of uncommon candor, and on a recent episode of Unashamed, which is Phil’s podcast, they introduce the daughter/sister they never knew they had, and she makes it very clear that from the first moment she met them, she felt like she belonged. Her name is, interestingly, Phyllis, and she calls Miss Kay her “special mom.” The family has welcomed her with open arms, and while that is not the subject of the movie, it is refreshing to see redemptive love walking around with a duck call in one hand.
The Blind is showing in local theatres and is doing well at the box office. It looks like former turmoil of Phil’s life causes it to rightfully earn the PG-13 rating it holds, but it is beautiful proof that “with God, all things are possible.” Go see it.