Four million people in the US play World of Warcraft

22 10 2007


Farm Fetish

You know, I just realized how many errant Google hits that title is going to bring. Creepy.

This will just break Neil’s heart, as he does see me as a champion of fighting regionalism, but this CNN piece (from over at Atrios) is the sort of thing that, Jesus H*. Christ on a crutch, gives me a headache. They send a reporter to literally Middle America, and surprise, discover that they don’t much care for them Hollywood movies. Suuuurrr-prise!

But one chunk of this report, to me, is symptomatic of a larger issue that grinds my molars.

ANDERSON: We stopped by the Lebanon [Kansas — ed.] hotspot, Ladow’s Market, where one local told us Hollywood just can’t relate to a farming way of life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They’ve never been back in here to know what it’s like to actually have to make a living doing this.

You know what, Unidentified Male? You’re right. I don’t know what it’s like to have to make a living farming. NOBODY DOES.

For chrissake, only 17% of Americans live in rural settings anymore. Only 2 million of those people work on farms or ranches (USDA figures). Hell, only ten percent of the average farm family’s income even comes from farming anymore (did you know that? I didn’t. Funky). The median age of the United States is 37. I am more than willing to point out that the agriculture industry is a crucial, nay vital part of the American economic infrastructure generating a sizable amount of the GDP. But why in the name of John Deere’s Blood-Soaked Wood-Chipper Gears, every time I hear a news report on what “real Americans” think do I wind up watching some farmer in their fifties and sixties bitch as they survey the blasted plains landscape behind them, and not only that, somehow their cultural observations are assumed to have more relevance than anyone else’s?

This is only half-rant. The honest question is, what in the American character keeps us returning to this completely false self-image? Seriously, how did we get to a point where this report may as well have started: “Hi there, Carol, we’re about to talk to people twenty years older than the average American living a lifestyle less than one in five average Americans live … to find out what the average American thinks” and somehow nobody blinks an eye?

There are four times as many Americans living in urban than rural areas. There are four times as many people sucking back coffee in New York city alone than make a living farming. According to the Burea of Labor, there are just as many people employed in Architecture and Engineering as farming, hell, 3 million people working in Computer and Mathematical jobs. But when one of these “What does America think about culture” pieces comes on, do I ever see a mid-30’s software engineer onscreen bitching about having to download BitTorrents of “The IT Crowd”? Fuck and no.

Four million people in the US play World of Warcraft…

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