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I call Bullshit! on Pioneer Woman

February 28th, 2010 · 129 Comments · Pioneer Woman

Update here:  I’ve been receiving nasty emails and moderated comments from people who seem to think I’m jealous or bitter or catty.  If that’s what you intend to do after reading this *personal opinion* that I’ve posted on my website that *I* pay for, please don’t.  Allow me to save you the trouble with the following explanation — I’m NOT jealous or bitter or catty.  I see a well-to-do woman who married a millionaire and then sold her soul to advertising, thus selling her readers out because THERE’S NOTHING OF SUBSTANCE and you know what, I’m not impressed.  Couldn’t care less about that.  What I *do* care about is the fact that she portrays herself as “keepin it real” when she is doing anything but. 

If you’re a big fan and feel like telling me off, go win one of PW’s gifts and donate it to charity instead.  If you feel like detailing all the positive things about her site,  for the love of all that is holy, stop yourself.  If I wanted to read that I would simply trudge through some of the thousands of comments at her site each day.  

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Writing notes for my stories has caused just a flood of thoughts regarding many other subjects as well.  Here’s one of them.

If you’ve been under a rock for the past few years and aren’t aware who Ree Drummond a.k.a. Pioneer Woman  is, she’s a blogger.  She lives on a sprawling cattle ranch in Oklahoma and takes the most fantastic pictures that she photoshops (and provides tutorials for her readers) and posts.  She depicts ranch life in an almost utopian manner – it’s seriously perfect.  When she gets the whim, she spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to upgrade, not her home, but the guest house  on their property.  She had me with the horse pictures.  She lost me with the renovation of the guest house.

Who in the sam hill is remodeling their guest houses these days?  Her folksy “I’m just a simple rancher’s wife” writing style is so fun to read and I found myself really sucked in, along with millions (I’m  not joking) of other readers.  But after a while it got old.   I can count on one hand the number of original recipes from her that I don’t already have in my box or various cookbooks.  I grew tired of seeing a post that contained 20 pictures of the same freaking dog.   And I realized that her posts are all pretty much the same thing just strung together with different photos – often taken in a huge bunch and then just put into different posts.  I started thinking about the thousands of head of cattle on her property drinking out of creeks and running them dry – thus affecting who knows how many other farmers.  The giveaways worth thousands of dollars on her site amaze me and then I saw an article regarding the cost to advertise on her site.  Holy uptown Batman!  It’s estimated that Ree’s lil’ ole’ blog has earned her and her advertisers close to $3 million dollars last year, nearly a million for her alone.  Sit on that for a moment.  A million dollars.  She lunches with a Senator, exhibits her photoshopped pics at galleries, has a nanny and housekeeper, recently flew all over the country staying in five star hotels for a book tour, and her husband’s family were already millionaires before she married him.  This does not make her, in my opinion, a sweet little downhome everyday normal rancher’s wife just cooking up lunch for the hired hands.

Her charmed existence is not the norm.  Portraying cattle ranchers and their families in this manner leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  I know no one who’s not struggling now.  The cost of her camera alone is several months worth of many household budgets.  A guest house renovation?  Please.  I’m just hoping we’ve got $75 left over next month for a remnant of vinyl to cover my ruined bathroom floor.  Our propane tank out there has a leak and I’m saving every penny for the $150 repair this spring, meanwhile propane is leaking slowly out into the air at the rate of nearly $2.00 per gallon.  This is the reality for many of us and most of her readers.  I began to feel insulted when she asked her readers to actually vote on the color for the Lodge’s new cabinets, or flooring, and the name of her whirlwind romance story.  Are you serious Ree?  Folks are worried about how much money after bills they’ll have leftover to put food on their table.  Our insurance went up nearly $300 a month this year – that money has to come from somewhere.  Should I take it out of the food budget or propane for heating?  My husband’s medication costs our insurance company nearly $3,000 each month and they’re getting a little snippy about it.  Just yesterday they denied this month’s fill at the pharmacy and I’m watching nervously for an outbreak any day now since he’s been off almost a week.  I really don’t give a rat’s ass what color your cabinets are in the guest house or which stone tile you decide to use.

These are the things most folks are worried about.  Now, please don’t misunderstand, I don’t begrudge her anything about her life – that’s not my point.  It’s her life and it sounds downright fantastic.  I just wish it wasn’t presented as just the normal life of a cattle rancher because that’s absolutely not what it is.   And I find her sweet down-home ”just a little housewife with a blog” manner a little off-putting considering she’s not that at all but is, rather, a multi-millionaire sharp business woman with offers resulting in yet more HUGE amounts of money literally knocking on her door.

Another thorn sticking in my side is the responsibility she now has (or does she, that’s the question).  With the attention of nearly 2 million readers each month and earning about $3 million each year for herself and advertisers, does she have more of a responsibility to her readers?  She has a ready-made platform to do wonderful things and I don’t see her doing that.  Granted, that’s not why her blog was created, but after a few years of the same old dog pictures and “we had to get up at the butt-crack of dawn to move cattle” posts, a little more substance would be nice.  A little more honesty about how all this actually gets done would be nice.  Most of us don’t employ 10 people or more to help run our homes and operations.  With that kind of disposable income I would hope they are truly helping their community and other farmers and families during this recession.  There’s just always this niggling voice in the back of my head saying there’s no way this woman gets all of that done, AND travels the country for media and TV appearances!  Homeschooling, gardening, laundry, cattle, taking pictures, photoshopping hundreds each week, dinner for 20 nearly each day — no way, something’s got to give.  This is so NOT the average life for a country gal and I think she’s doing a real disservice to those of us who are real.  I, for one, am not buying it any longer.

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