Taking One For The Team: Live Original-How the Duck Commander Teen Keeps It Real and Stays True to Her Values by Sadie Robertson with Beth Clark


Of the Duck Dynasty clan, young Sadie Robertson is probably seen as the least offensive member. Nobody could ever be more offensive than that racist, misogynistic, xenophobic and all-around bigot, the Robertson family patriarch Phil Robertson, right?

Well, in her book, Live Original-How the Duck Commander Teen Keeps It Real and Stays True to Her Values doesn’t exactly come across as a bigoted belle of the ball. If she shares any of her grandpappy’s detestable views, she keeps them pretty hidden within the confines of Live Original…

But, read between the lines, use some critical thinking skills, and Miss Robinson does come across as rather pleased with herself, very preachy and totally lacking any open-mindedness and empathy towards others.

On the surface, Robertson comes across as well-adjusted and sincere. She’s that sweet girl next door, the type you wouldn’t mind your own daughter emulating or your son dating. But after a while a certain thinly-veiled “mean girl” vibe comes out, one that left me feeling for impressionable young people, especially young girls, who see Robertson as a role model.

Sadie Robertson explains she is fully committed to her faith and in her love of God. For the most part, I am fine with this. I am fully committed in my Unitarian Universalist faith, which for the most part of does affect certain choices I make in my life and affirms my commitment to my community.

But enough with my faith…

Live Original is divided into various Christian-inspired chapters focused on “self-helpy” and inspirational memes like “Think Happy, Be Happy,” “Dream Big,” “Never Give Up,” “Respect Relationships,” Stress Causes Mess,” and “Do Something.” Nothing wrong with these greeting card phrases. When taken at face value they are hardly controversial. Oprah has been saying this in a more secular manner for thirty years now. But after reading Live Original, many of these Hallmark card platitudes just ring a bit false and not exactly understanding coming from a girl from a very privileged family who hasn’t really faced any of the challenges a lot of teenagers (and yes adults) face in the 21st century.

For goodness sake take the first meme “Think Happy, Be Happy.” I’ve suffered from depression for years, most of my depression starting when I was a girl. Believe me, I tried my hardest to overcome my depression by thinking only happy thoughts and rarely did it work. I often felt even more depressed! I just wonder how a young girl, not realizing she is suffering from depression, might feel after reading this chapter. Would she just try thinking happy thoughts and not get the help she needs, perhaps only a therapist and a support system can provide? I hate to think of the repercussions Miss Robertson’ empty headed advice might affect an impressionable young reader who is gripped by depression.

As for Never Give Up? Sure, this is fine in theory, but there are times when you do have to give up. Giving up doesn’t make one a failure; sometimes giving up can lead to better things and open up a path to something more positive in the long haul. I thought my life was over when I lost two mainstream writing gigs. I thought I wouldn’t write again. But then I told myself, “Perhaps, you’re not meant for more mainstream media,” which inspired me to use the alternative media of my own choosing and write book reviews this very blog.

I also have to throw some shade at the chapter Respect Relationships. In this chapter, Robertson claims she demands respect from the guys she dates and everything is hunky-dory. Well, yes, but I couldn’t help but wonder about young girls who also ask for respect from their boyfriends but aren’t receiving it. Maybe the boys in question cheat on them, or make cutting comments or even worse sexually assault or abuse these girls? Did these girls not ask for respect in the correct way? Did they do something to deserve their boyfriend’s horrible behavior? In this chapter, Robertson lays all the responsibility on the girl and very little on the boy. I found this maddening.

Most of the chapters are like the kinds of described and the content is fueled by various Biblical quotes. Furthermore, Robertson can’t help but boast of her family’s privilege and wealth (which is multi-generational), her amazing accomplishments (most of it due to her family privilege) and her all-around self-absorption where she seems to think she’s the only teenager who is concerned about others, does good things and pretty much excels in everything she tries whether it’s on Dancing With the Stars, strutting the catwalk in her “Daddy-Approved” formal wear line with Sherri Hill or her mission work in foreign countries.

And throughout Live Original, Robertson proves to be quite snippy towards other people she feels better than like the models she meets during New York’s fashion week, people who don’t share her faith, her high school classmates (those jealous haters), and even her brother John Luke who sadly, doesn’t share her athletic prowess.

Now I know Live Original is hardly aimed at a liberal, feminist and older woman like myself. But I can’t help but feel for those impressionable young fans of Sadie Robertson who aren’t born into privilege, may have family issues faith and thinking positive thoughts can’t help and are facing huge obstacles whether they are being bullied in school, the victim of date rape, facing the illness of a parent or are being plagued by poverty. I think Live Original might make these young women feeling even worse, and I hope they seek out alternative literature that will help them no matter their situation.

Part brag book and part slam book, Live Original is best to be ignored. And hopefully Sadie Robertson and the entire Duck Dynasty klan will become a mere footnote in television history.