From exercising unthinkable control over his children to his malodorous forays into politics, no one would accuse Jim Bob Duggar of being a “good person.”
However, the latest controversy about the cult-adhering patriarch and all-around dirtbag is a little different.
Jim Bob donned a bit of a costume for a family video that his son recently shared.
Is it offensive? A number of commenters are saying so. And they may have a point.
To put things in order, Jed Duggar shared a clip from the Duggar family’s various outfits. The footage dates back to December 2022.
This was no random video — it had to do with Jed and his wife’s pregnancy announcement. They had shared that they were expecting Baby #2. So they captured people’s reactions.
Michelle and several of Jed’s innumerable siblings were among the first to know.
Then, Jed went into the kitchen, asking “Where’s the farmer?” and answering with “There he is!”
Jim Bob walked in, wearing a straw hat. The hat is, apparently, an “Amish” hat that Katey’s own parents obtained in Pennsylvania a dozen years ago.
“Jim Bob cosplaying as a farmer in that shirt and tie is an insult to actual farmers,” griped one commenter.
“He’s so disrespectful,” another chimed in.
And a third simply declared: “He’s vile.” Well, that’s an easy characterization to make of this ignominious patriarch.
It is easy to take a look at this and ask: “What is the big deal? It’s not like he’s wearing a racist costume.”
Similarly, one could observe that people are saying many of these things about Jim Bob simply because they despise him. (And they’re right to!)
Both of those statements are true. But that doesn’t mean that Jim Bob’s costume isn’t part of a larger, insidious pattern.
Simply put, what we’re seeing is Jim Bob using an Amish straw hat to cosplay as a farmer.
(There is a lot to be said about the cult-to-cult solidarity on display, but let’s leave discussing the grim realities of Amish life to survivors who escaped the Amish world. Suffice it to say that the values that perpetuate rape culture are heavily present in both communities)
This is not uncommon for Jim Bob in two ways: he is pretending to be something that he is not, and he is specifically cultivating a rural, “everyman” image that does not fit him.
Simply put, Jim Bob has taken great pains to push his extreme beliefs. Not by presenting them as they are, but by sanitizing them for reality TV.
He’s part of an abusive cult, but your average person might think that he just has a lot of kids with bad clothes and worse hair. Well, before Josh’s scandals shone a light on the ugly truth.
There’s more to it than propaganda. Jim Bob also allegedly took all of the money from TLC for the show, telling his adult children that appearing on the show was an act of religious service. In other words, he received money … and told them that their roles were pro bono.
Finally, Jim Bob is not some simple farmer, living off of the land. He has amassed millions of dollars. He is a reality star and a businessman. And he has been part of the Arkansas state government, to the everlasting regret of many citizens.
Sure, it was just a costume. He was not literally impersonating a farmer. But this treads too close to comfort to the sort of “salt of the earth, honest working man” vibe that Jim Bob desperately wants to exude.
Simply put: if you’re a despicable con man, people aren’t going to like you even joking about being something that you’re not.