On Jan. 19, 2014, One Direction's Liam Payne lashed out on Twitter against critics who have labeled him a homophobe because Payne said he's a fan of the "Duck Dynasty" clan and their "family values." "Duck Dynasty" is a reality show about a family of duck hunters and their family business in Louisiana.
"Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson, who describes himself as a conservative Christian, famously came under fire in December 2013, when he was suspended by A&E (the U.S. network for "Duck Dynasty") for making homophobic remarks in a GQ interview.
Robertson's remarks in the interview included: "Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus — whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?"
Although many people praised A&E's decision to suspend Robertson, the network was also hit with a firestorm of complaints from "Duck Dynasty" fans who said that A&E's punishment was too harsh because Robertson has a right to free speech. A&E ended Robertson's suspension within a few weeks after the network imposed it. Filming of "Duck Dynasty's" episodes was not affected by the suspension. Many "Duck Dynasty" fans said they would boycott any companies if the companies dropped their support for "Duck Dynasty" and the show's stars.
On Jan. 18, 2014, Payne tweeted to "Duck Dynasty" star Willie Robertson (one of Phil's sons): "Huge love to you/your family huge respect for your business prosperities and the family values you still all behold. big fan."
Payne was immediately hit with a lot of criticism from people all over the Internet and in the media who said that Payne is homophobic for making that remark.
In response, Payne tweeted a series of angry rants:
"Being a fan of someones show and the way they still hold a family together doesnt mean i am ok with all they say. Oh my god can someone literally not be a fan if a show without bring labeled WTf I bought dinner the other day it made a news story ... What I gotta do to please you bastards I'm a 20 year old just living life as you did when u where twenty but in extraordinary circumstances ...
"And I know I'm playing into your hands writing these tweets but I'm sick of stupid stories it's time you all grow up ... And write about things that actually matter not what im gunna have for dinner tomorrow or who I'm a fan if real stories ...
"Look at this sh*t I never said any if that write about something real for once there's plenty of issues In the world ... I just watched a show and I liked it as most people do stop sitting in my twitter and do your research #lazyjournos ... All those tweets are aimed at journalists and bloggers not fans ... Sick of all this bull il be back again when the freedom of speech law is back and people don't believe to much into the bulls#!t they read ...
"Can't wait for the call tomorrow where I get told of for cussing had to be said like I said before much worse has happened In the world ... Pick ur balls up off the floor and get on with it instead of taking advantage of every word said and twisting it for your own gain."
What Payne doesn't seem to understand that his praise of the Robertson clan's "family values" will be taken in the context of more than just the "Duck Dynasty" show, considering the controversy over Phil Robertson's unapologetic stand against gay people. By endorsing the Robertsons' "family values," Payne set himself up to be labeled as anti-gay too. If he had said from the beginning something like, "I'm a fan of your show but I don't support bigotry against gays," Payne would have avoided any of the controversy over being labeled homophobic.
This is the second time this month that Payne has had to do damage control for his actions. On Jan. 14, 2014, he tweeted a public apology after one of his friends posted a photo on the Internet of Payne standing on the balcony ledge of his high-rise apartment building in London. In his apology, Payne said: "You may have seen a photo of me today, taken on top of a building. I regret being there and having a photo taken of me. I do not endorse any fans trying to repeat this as it is extremely dangerous. It was a stupid and irresponsible thing to do. I am sorry."
As for "Duck Dynasty," Season 5 of the show premiered on Jan. 15, 2014. The Season 5 premiere drew 8.5 million total U.S. viewers, according to the Nielsen Company. That's a slight increase from the "Duck Dynasty" Season 4 finale of 8.4 million total U.S. viewers for the show's finale drew, but a big decrease from the show's Season 14 premiere of 11.8 million total U.S. viewers. It's also the first "Duck Dynasty" season premiere whose ratings did not surpass a previous season premiere.
Since coming in third place on "The X Factor" U.K. in 2010, One Direction has become the biggest-selling worldwide act to emerge from "The X Factor." In a 2013 PeerIndex survey, the five members of One Direction (Payne, Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik) were named as Great Britain's most influential people on Twitter, with Payne ranked at No. 1.
Payne's sister Ruth tweeted about the homophobia controversy surrounding Liam: “I hope he has a long time away from twitter now and enjoys his time off without being judged. At the moment he just needs a break."