Sunday, March 10, 2013

Seeking: Man who enjoys long walks on the beach and driving a tractor

In thinking of Dodge's now famous Superbowl advertisement connecting simple (and notably white, male, Christian) farmers with the need for a practical truck, I attempted in a former post to unpack the idealized identity of farmers as classic and necessary American workers. I was reminded of this captivating, eyebrow-raising commercial and the identity it so blatantly sought to make appealing to all viewers today when a commercial for a farmers-only dating site, transparently known as, popped onto the television screen as also caught my eye.

The trademark of the site is "City folks just don't get it!," which illuminates the idea that these people have created a firm sense of identity that is strong enough to allow them to 'other' those not working with the land. This is confirmed by the citation below, appearing in small text beneath dozens of images of farmers, putting faces to the identity they advertise:

We exist because, the way we see it, there are basically two groups in America. Group one revolves around four dollar cups of coffee, taxi cabs, blue suits, and getting ahead at all costs in the corporate world. If you fall into this group then FarmersOnly is not where you want to be dating online. There are plenty of hard to trust dating sites out there for ya though! Group two enjoys blue skies, living free and at peace in wide open spaces, raising animals, and appreciating nature. We understand the meaning of Southern hospitality, even if we don't all live in the South. This group makes up America's Heartland – the slice of America with good old fashioned traditional values, values that were never lost by the farmers of our country. These values have also been preserved by the cowboys and cowgirls who still live on the edge, nature lovers who don’t take the outdoors for granted even though it is free, and horse lovers, ag students, and other animal lovers

In the original commercial appearing six years ago, advertisers used farm animals with speaking parts and the imagery of a pretty woman and handsome man on separate farms to attract those with similar lifestyles and priorities. The commercial that struck me as being highly similar to the Dodge commercial, however, was only released one month ago and features the same simplistic format and voiceover style as its muse. The site and its unique commercials have also prompted interviews, both with participants who have found love and outsiders questioning the site's approach.

So what does this commercial mean? What does it have to do with new food activism? For one thing, this ad and the site in general, especially with the attention it has been given not only by users but also by curious outsiders, reinforces the idea that a career and lifestyle as a farmer is becoming increasingly desirable alongside the 'back to the land' movement sweeping across the country. There are so many young people across the nation who love the land enough to quit big corporate jobs and turn to farming despite their impressive college degrees, so why not find love on the basis of loving the land? Both the Dodge commercial and FarmersOnly are clearly trying to capitalize on the idealization and romanticism of becoming closer to the land and the source of one's food that plays a large part in contemporary food activism.

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