Controversy adds to popularity, in a positive way or otherwise, as appears to be the case with Phil Robertson's recent controversial comments on homosexuality and the sales of his memoir Happy Happy Happy.
A star of A&E Television’s popular reality show Duck Dynasty, Phil Robertson made news nationwide and internationally, earlier in December, when he called homosexuality “sinful” and classed it with bestiality and promiscuity in an interview with GQ magazine. LGBT community and supporters of gay rights responded to the comments with a fierce backlash and A&E suspended Robertson from the show.
However, the controversy only added to Robertson’s popularity and one indicator of it is a rise in sales of his memoir Happy Happy Happy (Howard Books, 2013). According to USA Today, Robertson’s memoir has move up from No. 56 to No. 46 in the weekly ranking of best-selling books. The other three books authored by Duck Dynasty’s members have also gone up in sales.
Higher sales following controversies are more of a norm than exception in the publishing world. Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses (1988) and Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code (2003) are a few of the many controversial books that became international bestsellers due to attention-grabbing backlash from religious circles in and outside the respective countries of their authors. In the case of Satanic Verses, Rushdie even earned a bounty on his head from some Muslims, notably from Iran’s religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini.
Meanwhile, Phil Robertson’s suspension period has ended and A&E has reportedly given him the green signal on returning to the show. The channel explains that the show is more than one man’s views; that it is a show about family.