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Feb 04 2013

Ram Truck Superb Owl Farmer Wrongness

Jodi Thibeault is a skeptic, a feminist, an atheist, and most importantly, a human being. Her vocation is ass-kickery; her hobby is vineyard management.

This is so so so wrong and so many people are sighing and crying about it.

Here’s the text:

And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the field, milk cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt and watch it die, then dry his eyes and say,’Maybe next year,’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from an ash tree, shoe a horse with hunk of car tire, who can make a harness out hay wire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. Who, during planting time and harvest season will finish his 40-hour week by Tuesday noon and then, paining from tractor back, put in another 72 hours.” So God made the farmer.

God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bales, yet gentle enough to yean lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-comb pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the leg of a meadowlark.” So God made a farmer.

It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed, and brake, and disk, and plow, and plant, and tie the fleece and strain the milk, . Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft, strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh, and then sigh and then reply with smiling eyes when his son says that he wants to spend his life doing what Dad does. “So God made a farmer.”


I’m really torn on what to start with here. Patriarchy or God. Patriarchy … God. Ok, I’ll flip a coin.

Let’s start with God.

WTF???????

It has always confused me how ‘god fearing’ the farming community is. I mean, of ALL THE PEOPLE in the world these are the ones that break their backs every day to get shit done and they attribute all their success to God? Not to the 80 hour weeks? What the serious fuck people? Is it just a cop out? Do they want to be able to say ‘well I guess it wasn’t in God’s plan’ when they fail?

I do the tractor thing, and it hurts. And when you’re up on that tractor for hours and hours it is really easy to tell that there is NO ONE DOING THE WORK BUT YOU! If god was helping, couldn’t he make my back hurt less? What the hell is he doing if I’m the one plowing, mowing, seeding, planting, hedging, fertilizing, watering, weeding, cluster thinning, harvesting, processing? Also, if you have any semblance of organization it is really easy to tell where you went wrong and what you should try to do next year.

I don’t get it.

Next.

Let’s see that text again, bold is mine.

And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise (Man) and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer. (Man)

God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the field, milk cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.”(Woman) So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing (Man) to sit up all night with a newborn colt and watch it die,(Man) then dry his eyes (Man) and say,’Maybe next year,’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle (Man) from an ash tree, shoe a horse with hunk of car tire, who can make a harness out hay wire, (Man) feed sacks and shoe scraps. (Man) Who, during planting time and harvest season will finish his 40-hour week by Tuesday noon and then, paining from tractor back, put in another 72 hours.” (Man) So God made the farmer.

God said, “I need somebody strong enough (Man) to clear trees and heave bales, (Man and Boy)yet gentle enough to yean lambs and wean pigs and (Man) tend the pink-comb pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the leg of a meadowlark.” (Girl)So God made a farmer.

It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed, and brake, (Man) and disk, and plow, and plant, and tie the fleece (Man and Woman)and strain the milk, . (Whole family)Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft, strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh, (Man)and then sigh and then reply with smiling eyes when his son says (Man) that he wants to spend his life doing what Dad does. “So God made a farmer.”

Do I even really need to say anything here? Because this is really all I can muster.
Picard looking confused "WTF?" Riker facepalms "I know"

Ok sure, they made some effort to include women but they only appear twice on their own. And the fact that it ends with the ‘touching’ father/son moment really tells me that they just stuck the women in there as tokenism.

The farming equipment appears more often than the women do.

36 comments

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  1. 1
    trina

    Ummm where does the original include women? You writing (woman) after a section that is clearly about a man (as you can tell by the use of the male pronoun) does not magically put them in.

  2. 2
    ChasCPeterson

    You’re high. With this particular ad, they were trying to sell trucks to men. Most of the men they were trying to sell trucks to believe in teh God. That’s why. Very simple.

  3. 3
    Jason Thibeault

    She’s referring to the images in the commercial itself, actually. And you’re right — just putting a picture of a woman doesn’t make the speech about a woman.

  4. 4
    Pierce R. Butler

    … somebody who can shape an ax handle from an ash tree, shoe a horse with hunk of car tire, who can make a harness out hay wire, feed sacks and shoe scraps.

    The person (if any) who does all that does not also put in 112-hour weeks on a tractor. The latter we can rightfully call a farmer; the former we might call either a homesteader, a sharecropper, or a just-plain peasant – but even if such persons do own tractors, they certainly don’t work for 112 hours without breaking down.

    From the narrative, we might expect that a “farmer” wears a coonskin cap, home-made from a varmint he brought down at 112 yards with a muzzle-loading musket in between shootin’ them pesky Injuns.

  5. 5
    trina

    Oh sorry, I can’t watch the video right now so I didn’t get it.

  6. 6
    michaeld

    It’s probably odd to fixate on this but I want to visit an owl farm now….

  7. 7
    Jodi Thibeault

    Sorry trina, I should have been more clear about what I was doing.

  8. 8
    PZ Myers

    Oh, come on now. Women are farming equipment: every shot of a tractor was a proxy for a woman. Parity achieved.

    I just want to add: Jebus, but I despise Paul Harvey. My high school would play a Paul Harvey clip every morning over the loudspeakers, just before the teachers were expected to lead us in the pledge of allegiance and take roll. Unctuous Christian slimy conservative nonsense, every goddamn day. And after a few years of that, boy do his mannerisms grate.

  9. 9
  10. 10
    Jodi Thibeault

    Jadehawk, yes. Exactly. That too. Their pretty little picture is just … wrong.

  11. 11
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    God, patriarchy… and fake cult of farmers. Another group that is alternately put on a pedestal and pissed upon.

    I used to ship literature for New Holland (and whoever owned it at the moment), and they had a couple of “farmer’s prayers” small posters. They also liked to go on about the family farm in their literature, something which is more mythological* than not since WWII in terms of who owns and operates the actual majority of farming operations. (The ones with more of the farming equipment that doesn’t cause ass and back pain, has refrigerators, TV, satellite communication, and a highly computerized environment. And doesn’t use children as weights on harrows.)

    Just something else I find wrong with such commercial tripe in addition to the patriarchy and gawd aspects.

    *It isn’t mythological to actual family farmers, but the description if the ad sure is.

  12. 12
    Gretchen

    …and the fact that the commercial (I can’t watch it right now, either) presumably leaves out the most important farm of all when it comes to American meat consumption….the factory farm.

    Not exactly beautiful. Not exactly a testament to the hard-working individual.

  13. 13
    Edward Gemmer

    I kind of enjoyed it. Seems like a good tribute to farmers. Also, they were probably limited in what was said because Paul Harvey has been dead for four years.

  14. 14
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Arguably as important are the vast subsidized acres of monocropped corn and soybeans, producing an artificial glut on the market and making concentraded feed cheap enough to allow CAFOs to exist. These are also not meaningfully ‘family farms,’ however.

  15. 15
    eidolon

    Jason: Are you aware that the majority – by quite a large margin – of people who actually buy trucks are men? Are you also aware that the function of an advertisement is to link properties and attributes, real or otherwise, of the product with potential buyers? What you quite keenly noted in the emphasis on the mostly male nature of the ad is called targeting a demographic. The most likely person to actually buy a Dodge Ram is apt to want to see themselves as having the characteristics of the farmer, even if fictional. As for the “God made…” bit – perhaps it was not meant to mean that god is actually doing the work and riding the tractor. God’s plan if they fail? That part came from you, not the commercial.

  16. 16
    Jason Thibeault

    eidolon: this post was by my wife Jodi, who wears the tractor in this relationship.

  17. 17
    eidolon

    Jason:
    Glad your wife is the one who buys the trucks in your family. Likewise, a good friend of mine buys her truck with an eye towards hauling horses. None of which changes the basic fact that roughly 25% or fewer truck buyers are women. Further, the trend for women seems to be towards the light truck as opposed to the 3/4 and 1 ton versions, such as featured in the ad. I am sure that some percentage of men are buying mom-mobile vans as well, but they are not the primary market.

    Yes, women are an important part of the final buying decision – at least as indicated by the important role they have played in redesigning the interior and adding features. Still, when Dodge went looking to rework their truck line, y “Dodge sent teams with notebooks and cameras to construction sites, farms and other rural areas, job shops, and fleet operations to see firsthand what people did with their trucks. We took notes, made sketches, and snapped photos of built-in toolboxes, rack systems, and even the homemade interior consoles owners use to make their trucks into rolling offices.”

    As insensitive as it may seem to your spouse, women were not the target of that or any other large truck commercial I can recall.

  18. 18
    Duke Eligor

    Definitely agreed, this commercial is full of face-palm. Another implied message I got: “Are you a middle class suburban girly-man who wants to feel like an awesome and morally superior farmer (i.e. a True Man)? Buy this gas-guzzling box-on-wheels.” Ah capitalist culture. Gain your identity and character through conspicuous consumption. This seems especially relevant to maleness and cars/trucks. All that’s missing is the gun rack, weight lifting machine, and the case of beer-flavored swill in the back.

  19. 19
    peicurmudgeon

    As someone who spent the first 33 years of my life on a farm, I am very familiar with type of thing. For anyone who is familiar with Maritime authors, Ernest Buckler was one of those who promoted the stereotype of the ‘noble farmer’ who was a different version of the ‘noble savage’ trope. The farmers and fisherman I know are comprised of people who are hardworking upstanding members of the community and those who were alcoholic wife beating child fuckers (includes at least one husband beater). And everyone in between. It has been a very patriarchal culture, as most physical jobs have been, although women who were successes were not vilified.

    There were a few of us openly atheist, but not too many, but we all bought trucks.

  20. 20
    Jodi Thibeault

    eidolon,

    I don’t doubt that more men buy trucks than women.

    If you go to their website http://www.ramtrucks.com/en/ you’ll see that they are actually trying to appeal to ‘farmers’. In fact they are trying to promote ‘farmers’, and they say ‘farmers’ multiple times on the website. So even if they are trying to sell this truck to their main truck buying audience, it is still insulting to the rest of the farmers who aren’t white men to hear them claim to promote ‘farmers’.

  21. 21
    Onamission5

    I didn’t see a single woman or girl in the commercial myself, must watch again with the sound off (’cause once around that horse shit merry-go-round was more than enough). I just had a conversation at Spouse wherin I ranted that I guess no farmers ever in the history of anything have been female, according to Dodge we should all hail the mostly white dudes and their sons who grow food for us as commanded by Jeezus.

  22. 22
    Aliasalpha

    Was I the only one who was wondering what the hell the ad was for until the end?

  23. 23
    Sheesh

    And Eidolon,

    Since we’re getting hyperskeptical and talking about percentages and shit. What fraction of the audience for the Superbowl is farming men? Can this possibly be more effective than advertising in the media that actual farmers routinely interact with… unless… wait… it’s not actually aimed farmers at all? That’s just incidental, and it’s just some bullshit mythology being cynically peddled to men’s fantasies.

    Real men make their own goddamn horseshoes!

    Maybe you can come up with a better apology for this ad.

  24. 24
    Sheesh

    (Also, no women are farmers. And the women that are farmers don’t need trucks. AM I RIGHT?)

    Better apologists please.

  25. 25
    TerranRich, Yet Another Atheist

    Maybe farming is more of a guy thing? *ducks the incoming objects* (Kidding, of course. Irony, people.)

  26. 26
    brucegorton

    What I took out of it was that their trucks are so bad they’ll make you want to go back to using horses, and you may as well use the tire to shoe that horse because actually using on the truck is a waste of time.

    @eidolon

    There is an old story about two shoe salesman.

    One shoe salesman goes to a remote area where people have no shoes, and phones back and says that the locals aren’t interested in shoes, none of them are wearing any.

    The other phones back sounding excited and proclaims it an “untapped market!”

    The second one is generally considered the brighter of the two. That your market as it stands is mainly men means you are leaving half your potential market untapped. Sexism is, in short, stupid.

  27. 27
    A--hole

    making the commercial about one person to make it more personal. If the commercial was laced with “P.C. inclusive language” may have made it less personal. In my experience easily 90+ % of large truck owners are white men. Also 85 + % of Americans believe in God.So, basically, a 15 year old high school student could understand who was being marketed to in the ad. Duh!!

  28. 28
    Gregory in Seattle

    You left out the inherent racism of the ad: no mention at all of the mostly brown workforce that is an essential component of any agribusiness nowadays, the women and men who engage in the backbreaking labor of cultivating crops too delicate to be cultivated by machine and picking nearly all of the fruits and vegetables produced in this country. And let us not forget the many, many farms in the US owned and run by African Americans, Latinos, First Nations and other non-whites.

    The idealized, fully self sufficient lily-white family farm mentioned in the sermon hasn’t existed in decades.

  29. 29
    eidolon

    When marketing decisions are made, you basically have one of two options. You can use a shotgun or a rifle. In this case, Dodge is selling an image of rugged self reliance to men. They rationally decided that since the very largest percentage of buyers of large trucks are men, that is the image they want to reinforce. They are not excluding half of their potential market. They are aiming directly at their primary market for the product.

    This was not an ad targeted at farmers, it was an ad targeted at men who would like to think they have the qualities depicted in the ad. Much like ads for beer show impossibly hip and hot singles. Buy the beer and you too can also be hot and hip. Lexus has an ad that shows a wealthy, very much with it couple enjoying the good life. Do you really think they are selling the car to only that particular market? They are selling IMAGE. Advertising is all about selling image. As my marketing prof put it, you sell sizzle, not steak.

  30. 30
    Gregory in Seattle

    Oops, my bad: I managed to sit through the sermon commercial — without the sound helps a lot — and saw an African American man, 0:47 to 0:50. He is sitting in the back of a truck, pondering a loop of rope in his hands.

  31. 31
    Bruce Gorton

    @eidolon

    Except they actually are. By gendering the product towards ‘manly’ they are specifically telling women that it is not for them.

    As to your examples, they are bad, and you should feel bad.

    Lexus is indeed selling specifically to that market – Lexus is Toyota’s luxury brand. They are hardly going to go after a lower income bracket because lower income brackets can’t afford it. Beer which advertises to young audiences tends to also be specifically going for that audience, and excludes those who don’t either fall into it or want to fall into it (in other words, people with taste.)

  32. 32
    Onamission5

    Oh my gawsh, eidolon and A-hole have ‘splained it all to us, you guise. How silly of us to think that women are people who might like something other than tampons and kitchen products to be marketed to us once in a while! Teh menz are the Really Important Market. So glad you set us straight that we’re just all huffed up about nothing.

    <— comes from a long line of women who drive trucks and tractors and bale hay and stuff. You know, FARMERS. Erm, I mean frill wearing sandwich making baby factories who don't worry our silly heads about manly stuff like growing food or hard work or having strength of character or being resourceful or getting our delicate widdle hands dirty.

    *stomps away*

  33. 33
    Jason Thibeault

    I think eidolon actually has a point in suggesting that they’re not really marketing to farmers. They’re marketing to men who think they’re rugged and who need luxury pick-em-up trucks.

    Do you see why this is a problem, with my wife being the farmer of us? Seriously, she helps run a vineyard and is more likely to have input into or do the purchasing of heavy farm equipment than me, who works in the computer industry.

    So appealing to men by acting like only men can be farmers — that’s a PROBLEM. Two problems actually. Thus Jodi’s concern.

    And Onamission5′s, apparently.

  34. 34
    Kevin

    I’m currently in the market for a new vehicle. Not a pick-up truck, but probably an all-wheel-drive SUV type thingy that gets good gas mileage/hybrid-but-not-all-electric something or other.

    Dodge/Chrysler is NOT getting my business. They could not have done a better job of removing themselves from my selection process if they had come directly to my house and kicked me in the nuts.

    So much for target marketing and demographic research.

  35. 35
    janiceintoronto

    I am a woman and perhaps I AM at tractor.

    You are engaging in Tractor Bigotry.

    Help! Us Women Tractors are being bullied!

    Help!

  36. 36
    janeymack

    Am I the only one who wanted to slap Paul Harvey and point out to him that God didn’t make farmers because he needed somebody to do all those wonderful things? God threw Adam out of the Garden and made him do all that hard work as a punishment for eating the apple! Do all those God-fearin’, hard-workin’, truck-buyin’ white dudes think about that? Because that’s all I could think about while listening to that stupid piece of glurge.

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