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God Made A Farmer’ And The Super Bowl Made Him A Star

A still from the Super Bowl ad, "God Made a Farmer"

It may not have been as dramatic as the stadium blackout that halted play for more than a half-hour, or as extravagant as Beyonce's half-time show. But for many viewers of Super Bowl XLVII, one of the standout moments was a deceptively simple ad for the Dodge Ram called "God Made A Farmer."

While Super Bowl ads often vie to be the hippest or funniest, "God Made A Farmer" took a riskier route: earnestness. The two-minute ad features gorgeous still images from 10 noted photographers, including William Albert Allard, who has long documented the American Midwest, and Kurt Markus, who made his name with his depictions of cowboy life.

But the ad's true power comes from the voice of its narrator, legendary conservative broadcaster Paul Harvey, who died in 2009. Many found Harvey's essay on the virtues of the American farmer as stirring today as it was when he delivered it to the Future Farmers of America back in 1978. It says:

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

Perhaps it's a sign of how far the American food movement has come that Dodge chose this romantic vision of farm life to sell its trucks. As Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon McCarthy cheekily tweeted, "That convinced me, I'm buying a farmer first thing tomorrow."

Indeed, it wasn't clear just what the ad was selling - besides the virtues of farming - until the very end, when the Dodge logo appeared.

As Slate quickly noted Sunday night, "God Made A Farmer" was a high-production-value version of a video posted to YouTube in 2011 by Farms.com. (The new ad sparked a spate of praise on that website for both the original and Dodge version.)

Apparently, the ad is part of a Dodge Ram partnership with the National FFA Organization (formerly the Future Farmers of America) aimed at "highlighting and underscoring the importance of farmers in America," according to a statement from Dodge parent company Chrysler. The car company says that every time the ad is watched or shared, Chrysler will make a donation to the National FFA.

Though it earned widespread praise, the ad wasn't without critics. As many in the Twitterverse noted, it extolled an antiquated vision of American farm life that featured almost no Hispanics - though the latter made up nearly half of all hired farm workers in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

And its focus on family farms struck some viewers as being out of sync with the realities of the modern American food system, which is dominated by industrial agriculture.

Despite these objections, one thing is for sure: For two captivating minutes Sunday night, the values and future of American farming left the sidelines of the popular conversation to dominate a very, very large stage.

So, what did you think of the ad? Share your comments below.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit www.npr.org.

Comments

Avatar for user 'paralaxvu'

paralaxvu | March 25, 2013 at 9:52 a.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

Since atheism is merely the other side of the religion coin, with atheists as arrogant as Christians and others of religious belief, I'd amend that phrase to, "Agnosticism: A personal relationship with reality." Nobody knows for sure. Nobody. I'd rather just say "I don't know" and get on with a personal moral life.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | March 25, 2013 at 10:17 a.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

Wrong story, PARRALLAXVIEW, but hey, you are completely right about the arrogance!

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | March 25, 2013 at 10:18 a.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

I don't think Paul Harvey even met a real farmer just like Marx never really met a factory worker.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | March 25, 2013 at 11:35 a.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

Are there actual denim clad, leather faced, mustachioed farmers still in America?

Maybe in Disneyland or Hollywood film sets making Super Bowl commercials.

Industrial farming has taken over and the American farmer is now just a car salesman. Quite sad, but you only have yourself to blame McDonald's face stuffing Americans.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 25, 2013 at 3:04 p.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

"Are there actual denim clad, leather faced, mustachioed farmers still in America?"

Few, very few.

That's why this ad was so out of touch.

It completely ignores the fact that most of our agriculture is now harvested by immigrant labor.

It seems like it was targeted at the "turn the clock back to the 1950s crowd".

Maybe next superbowl the same people responsible for this one can run one showing gals in poodle dresses who are all home-makers and their husbands who have ashtrays on their office desks at work and puff on cigarsall day while making important decisions via rotary phones to guys named Bob.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 25, 2013 at 3:06 p.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

This ad seems like something a guy like Mitt Romney thinks is actual reality in the present day>

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