In the fascinating book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell wrote about one curious aspect of our culture — the moment when something seems to just be everywhere you look, being talked about by everyone.
We’ve reached that point with Duck Dynasty, don’t you think? It’s got all of the buzz in the world going for it. The ratings are through the roof. Even highbrow publications are writing about the show featuring the guys with the signature ZZ Top beards who manage a duck call fabrication business, trying to figure out whether the show’s success is the result of carefully cultivated entertainment savvy or southern Christian values (or stereotypes). The show’s not quite an overnight success — after all, it’s in its fourth “season” — but it’s reached the popular culture pinnacle.
I don’t watch Duck Dynasty. I don’t watch much TV, and most “reality” shows don’t appeal to me. For all I know, Duck Dynasty could be a fabulous, richly entertaining show or it could be idiotic, but at this point it doesn’t make much difference. What’s fascinating is that the tumblers have clicked into place, the PR campaigns have succeeded, and the opinion makers are all heading in the same direction. When seemingly everyone is talking about the same thing in this broad and diverse land of ours, it tells you something about the power of popular culture, and the power of peer pressure. How many people have started watching Duck Dynasty because everyone seems to be watching it, and they don’t want to be left out?
We also know one other thing about popular culture — no one and no thing stays on the top of the heap for very long. Just ask the producers of American Idol.