O Pioneers

From: David Tetzlaff (email suppressed)
Date: Sun Dec 20 2009 - 07:59:49 PST

Jeff wrote:

> This is very different than the arty B&W one -- this one includes a =
> Nazi salute (that's how I read it)

It's a young woman standing in front of statue of some sort of
mythological figure, mimicing the pose of the figure. I think this is
not a salute to anything, but an imperative to 'go forth' (the theme
of the ad). It reminds me of 'Forward' the statue on top of the state
capitol building in Madion, WI.

This add has gotten a lot of positive press for showing two young men
in a romantic/tender embrace (at :28) in addition to the usual post-
Benneton multi-ethnic cast of cuties.

The reading of Whitman is credited to "Will Greer" which may actually
be Will Geer, even though the voice doesn't sound like Grandpa Walton
to me. (The recording does come from Folkways, and Geer did a Folkways
album with Woodie Guthrie around that time.) Geer was in the CP back
in the day, and remained a lifelong lefty.

So this ad is kind of a textbook example of capitalist cultural
politics. It incorporates all sorts of progressive social ideas and
avant garde aesthetic devices, into a celebration of commodities on
one hand and normative youthful beauty on the other. Levis jeans, of
course, are one of the archetypal symbols of consumerism (see Dick
Hebdige's great essay 'The Bottom Line on Planet One' in Hiding in the
Light. http://books.google.com/books?id=ZKAOAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Dick+Hebdige&cd=4#v
=onepage&q=&f=false pp. 167-168).

Now, you can take a Lukacsian / Frankfurt School view of this and
bemoan the superficial reductionism, repressive tolerance, etc. or a
Birmingham School view that sees this all as a 'site of struggle' in
which capitalism can never totally smother it's Other, and in needing
to let it out from time to time, however controlled, keeps it alive.

The blogosphere reaction to the "O Pioneers" ad is pretty interesting,
as posters actually discuss the contradictions involved in the ad, and
several posts say 'I never would have discovered Walt Whitman except
for this ad.'
Check out this thread if you're interested:

> and a lot of young model types -- can =
> people actually afford real Levis these days?

if they work for health insurance companies, or pharma companies, or
wall street...
i doubt Frameworkers are the target market :-)

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.