Sarah (Beardsley '13) Fry | Communication
M.A. in Communication ('13)
Duck Dynasty has made a splash in the world of reality TV and made its way into one graduate student's research.
ACU helped me to find who I am and helped me to gain the confidence to go out and pursue my dreams. ACU's spirit and Christian faculty and staff has helped me grow spiritually and has really set the stage for how I want to be seen as an adult in the professional field.
Sarah Fry, who earned her master's degree in communication in December, wrote her thesis on the Robertson family's portrayal of gender and faith.
Duck Dynasty is a reality show about the lives of the Robertson family, who became wealthy from their family business, Duck Commander, which specializes in making products for duck hunters.
"I had been a fan of the show since Season One, so when I started realizing just how much society has fallen in love with the show, and how it has become such a major pop icon, I thought it would be pretty interesting to study," she said.
When she realized the family incorporated their Christian values into the show, the decision to choose the topic wasn't difficult.
"I have been intrigued about how the family prides itself on having faith as their foundation, and I wanted to see, since it seems like they are doing something right, how the show was portraying the Christian aspect," Fry said.
Fry analyzed how the editors and producers of the show communicate gender roles and portray the family's faith on the show.
Among her findings:
- Christian faith is evident on the show, more so through the subtleness of phrases used and through the omission of vulgar language, sex, alcohol and violence.
- Believers identify with the Christian components and influence within the show.
- Non-believers can relate to the show because of the humor and the antics.
- The women are seen, through the producers' actions, as countering progressive stereotypes, but are seen trying to break the stereotype through their actions such as standing up for themselves.
- They show Mrs. Kay as the stereotypical woman and show the younger women going against the grain.
- Women viewers can identify and relate with both generations due to either relating directly to the character or relating to the breaking of a stereotype.
- The show crafts its own masculine stereotype, rugged and child-like.
- Men can either identify with the humor or with the ways of life themselves.
Fry, who now works on the marketing team for Goldfish Medical Staffing in Plano, said she learned many skills at ACU that will help in her career. "I will be utilizing persuasion, training and development, statistics, and public speaking knowledge that I learned from a majority of my classes on a daily basis," she said.
"There's something about the professors' excitement and motivation that made me want to do well and made me want to learn skills that I can apply not only to a career, but to life itself," she said.
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