The Western Ideal Still Looms Large: An America of Cowboys, Farmers and Rugged Idealism.

Never mind that America is increasingly an urban nation. Or that fewer people live on or even near farms than at any time in our nation’s history.

Judging by the most popular ads from Sunday’s extraordinary Super Bowl in New Orleans, you’d think the good people of the United States are raising horses, farming their land and taming the Wild West from sun-up to sundown.

According to USA Today’s Ad Meter, which measured the reactions of thousands of Super Bowl ad viewers on Sunday, the top ad was about a Clydesdale and the loving cowboy who raised it.

Taking a page from the hit Broadway show and later film “War Horse”, Anheuser-Busch told the story of a young buck and the foal who stole his heart as he worked to tame it, train it and ready it for the world famous Anheuser-Busch Clydesdale Team. Here’s the extended version of the tear-jerker:

But it wasn’t the only Western-themed ad of the bunch. Chrysler created a two minute-long ad celebrating the farmer. Called “And God Made A Farmer”, the ad extolled the virtues of the lone farmer, tending his fields by day, milking the cows at dawn and dusk, and sitting through local school board meetings by night. The next day, print ads and social media campaigns extended the emotionally appealing ode. Here it is:

The Western ideal has always loomed large for Americans. It embodies the sense of rugged individualism that is a hallmark of our development as a nation. It influences every aspect of our society.

Most recently, as Americans agonize over gun control and what it means to own firearms, part and parcel of the debate is the underlying values that flow from our Wild West background.  We still believe we’re a nation of people settling frontiers, confronting ever-present dangers and heroic challenges over each new horizon.

Originally, the American psyche was transfixed by the New England blueblood, with ties to the Mayflower and the Protestant ideal. But as the nation expanded westward, and as stories from the plains or the gold rush proliferated, we became a nation obsessed by the rugged cowboy, the stoic farmer and the miner 49er (Super Bowl losses notwithstanding.)

Despite the truth of our lives today – most Americans live in cities or their suburbs; most farms are owned by corporations – we still cling to romantic Western expansion notions. Our hearts go soft at the sight of weather-beaten faces under well-worn cowboy hats. We love to watch cowboy boots two-steppin’ to a country ditty.

And a boy and his horse can move us to tears in under 30 seconds.

blog comments powered by Disqus

The Featured Five