A&E’s “Dog the Bounty Hunter” returns this week after a month’s hiatus. But it was that last episode before the hiatus that I can’t get out of my mind. Imagine the surreality of stumbling onto the show whose star Duane Chapman in 2007 was caught dissuading his son from bringing around his black girlfriend and other “n—–s” — and finding oneself being lectured by the Dog to “not discriminate against anybody and it’s about time that we became leaders of that in America.”
He was promoting the NoH8 campaign, whose founder next explained to the camera, “Our campaign was created in directresponse to Proposition 8 which was a ban to eliminate gay marriage in California.”
And in case we hadn’t heard it a thousand times already, the next shot had Beth, his buxom truck driver of a wife with nails taller than she is, admonishing us in a motherly purr: “Please don’t’ spread hate. Don’t hate another person if they want to marry their same sex. That’s not your business.”
NoH8 Co-founder “Jeff” explained that Dog had responded “Yes” when he’d tweeted Chapman asking, “Dog, do you support equality?”
As if Dog Chapman would ever get caught being un-PC again (to put the former offense mildly), or miss an opportunity to seize some easy political correctness creds.
If watching “Dog the Bounty Hunter” wasn’t already like visiting the Twilight Zone, now it felt like being in the Twilight Zone’s twilight zone. He was accusing those who don’t support gay marriage of being haters. This was coming from a family known for still using the N-word as a harmless synonym for black people.
You haven’t truly experienced the world of A&E until a racist is calling you a homophobe, for notbuying into gay marriage as an institution. Which even gay people have admitted was a sham, and which has 47% of gay couples writing “sex agreements” into their contracts.
The bail bondsmen of the Chapman Family aren’t exactly thinkers. All they know about the issue is what they’ve gotten through the mainstream-thought I.V. But here they were, being didactic on a complex issue that we know they haven’tgiven a drop of thought to aside from seeing an opportunity to jump on a bandwagon. (Nor do they trouble themselves to notice theslopeslipping, withpolygamy, incestandpedophilia making their moves in the wake of gay marriage victories.) If gettingonboardthegayagendawere that simple, there wouldn’t be an intelligent debate on it in this country.
But Dog and Beth couldn’t pass up the temptation to bask in the warm glow of politically correct safety, which they were visibly enjoying during the “NoH8” photo shoot, for which they sported a “NoH8” logo on their smug cheeks. The spectacle of the whole family of macho guys and gals joining in — every last one of them on board with a smile as if not one had his own mind — you’d have to be pretty dense to not see it for the carefully arranged PR stunt that it was, borne of past transgressions. Afterwards, Dog affirmed, “I like this campaign. It’s about peace and love and togetherness.”
If he thinks this blatant exercise in overcompensation wasn’t transparent to viewers, then he thinks they’re as simple as he is. Dog Chapman is covering his behind at the expense of Christian sensibilities which he’s milked for a decade. It may be a bizarre thing to say, but he’s just alienated the viewership that stuck with him through the racism. Nor has he done himself any favors with the already alienated black people, who proportionally are less OK — by far — with gay marriage than white people are. The only message one gets here is: sexual deviation is good, but black people aren’t.
When I first told my father in 2004 to check out the show, he told me he couldn’t look at “this white trash.” Put off by his small-mindedness, and more of a populist myself, I refused to see the Chapmans that way, instead seeing a strong family who clearly had Jesus’s favor, which was humbling. I started to so covet the concern they had for the screw-ups they’d capture that I was almost tempted to move to Hawaii and become an ice head myself. (Meth user.) Admittedly, I also had a fascination with their flashy brand of low class, their raucous style and behavior, and tried to block out what seemed like a high turnover of dogs in their lives — part of the family’s collection of often unsprayed and unneutered animals, there for occasional human amusement.
In addition to their immunity to awareness-raising campaigns by groups like the Humane Society — with Dog also buying a $1500 Chihuahua for one of his daughters — I even tried blocking out the time they left a puppy for dead in their garden after it was attacked by its brothers and sisters when it bit into a poisonous toad and got sick. Only after Beth’s daughter found the puppy still barely alive in the morning, after a presumably agonizing night, did Beth finally take him to the vet. (This is whose patriarch calls himself Dog. Though he does seem to mirror his own reproductive habits after those of the canine community, leaving a trail of human litters everywhere he’s lived.) Nor, of course, did I ever judge Beth or Dog’s criminal pasts or their scattered children’s criminal records.
The family I saw on TV seemed like decent folk, and I was impressed by their sympathy for a pair of lesbian sweethearts when they apprehended the one who had skipped bail, giving the couple some extra time before separating the two on Valentine’s Day. They weren’t remotely judgmental, which I thought was tolerant of them.
Little did I know Dog and Beth would betray my tolerance of them, conveniently turning their judgment against those whose thinking isn’t in sync with the prevailing correctness that they’ve just slapped on like a cheap accessory. First we find out he’s racist, then to make up for it he calls me a homophobe. To receive enlightenment from white trash preaching tired platitudes at me, well that’s just special.
Then again, maybe it’s not ironic at all, lest we forget the racialslurs hurled by anti-Proposition 8 activists because of the largenumbers of black people who supported the proposition. Perhaps Dog is in good company after all.
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