Does country need a superhero? Cities have them, lot’s of them. There’s Batman, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, and Superman all running around in neon spandex saving Gotham or Star City. But they have lots more. Cities have superheroes that permeate our popular culture and our life through music, finance, movie stars, and literature. Yet they do have an unacknowledged connection to country. Sometimes that connection is good and honest; sometimes it can be dark, really dark.
Yes, country is a lifestyle, but it is anchored in a clear set of values and principles of what is family, what is work, what is a man, and what is a woman. It is a mutual understanding of the equal value of all of these. City heroes deny, even rail against such values, unless of course it provides them money in the pocket.
I have been noticing more and more that the connection has been to portray and use country values for more selfish, urban goals.
Notice that Presidents Choice guy in the big box grocery store TV ads? Youngish, scrubbed looking fella rubbing shoulders with common folk during a picnic out in some field? Thank goodness we have one of the richest people in Canada willing to bring the wholesomeness of country to city folk. That Save On guy out west here does the same thing. Use country to be a hero in the city.
Music is doing it. Rock, hip hop, indie today focuses more on the lashing out of confused masculinity, or the empowerment of women in the cities having to react to these male dolts (actually that is a good thing) than the kind of values you and I take for granted- you know, things like commitment to family and lifestyle, to producing something tangible as a way of life. But these music stars are heroes. Face it. They are anti-country.
I like country music. Go figure. But lately I have tended not to like modern country, or the lifestyles of modern country music heroes. They make a fortune on promoting the same urban values of confused and destructive masculinity and the rightful response of pissed off women as those city singers. Women singers don’t sing about keying the SUV of a good man, and we best not consider the fate of ‘Earl’. Yup, men should drink a lot and work should only be to pay for a weekend of tearing up the country environment in their ATVs. Ever listen carefully to any of these lyrics? It’s like the male and female singers are living in different worlds. Maybe they should sit down and talk. Might provide some clarity to our youth who listen to this.
Best part is how these singers all buy the token 1200 acre ‘ranch’, pay professionals to run it and claim country values from it. Mind you there are wonderful exceptions, best exampled by the song “She Thinks’ My Tractor’s Sexy”. That song means something bigger.
Don’t even get me started on ‘man caves’. Ok, I’m started. These are the last bastions of irresponsibility for today’s male heroes. You know, out in the country these are called ‘the shop’, or ‘the barn’. Their purpose is to ensure the production of the farm or ranch, whether 2 or 800 acres, runs smoothly. Whether to fix the screen door laying on the shop table, or weld up the three-point, they have historically provided purpose and identity to men. It was a place to get things fixed or built for the betterment of family and farm. Even the suburban garages with the table saw and workbench provided that purpose for city folk, but they are disappearing rapidly. Being replaced by man caves.
Now we have men cloistered in some room defining their place in life through the measure of their TV or bar fridge, and knowing which extreme fighter is cheating on his gal. They search for purpose in these rooms, instead of in and out of the house, on the job or part of the community. Stuff we take for granted. Dare I say anti-country?
Even our own literature constantly juxtaposes the city. Magazines, the outskirts of literature, whether Hobby Farm or Mother Earth News focus on how to carve out a country life while maintaining city conveniences. I love these magazines, but city is insidious.
Maybe we could use a superhero to provide identity and purpose for us just like the lycra sporting, padded pantie wearing ones continually saving the cities. Have to get them better uniforms though. How about a contest? Best country superhero outfit. Main rules: no lycra; no padded panties; no capes that could get caught up in machinery.
But I may have just talked myself out of a country superhero. Last thing we want in the country is someone else deciding what’s right and wrong for us rural dwellers. Already have enough of those wandering around. I think we would be better served by paying homage to the real heroes we already have. They are everywhere, but at times we just don’t see them.
They include the neighbour who takes the time to bring your stray lamb back while you are away for the day. He even makes sure the gate is closed. Let’s not forget the gal who says yes every time you need a judge for the county fair.
And we don’t need some rich guy to tell city folk his company cares about the wholesomeness of country. There are companies that show they care and we know who they are. It’s the bank officer who puts time in with a bunch of kids to figure out signing authority for their club; the hardware store that donates extension cords, shovels and wheelbarrows for winter fair; the tractor dealer who delivers the little tractor to clean up after a pony club event, and the music store that steps forward to help with the barn dance. We need to appreciate them more.
Look around for those who step up to the plate, those who quietly respond in time and resources to preserve and promote country life, even more importantly country values. There’s no slick city marketing company behind it. Whether an individual or a company, they do it because they really, really care. Ladies, bake cookies for these people. No, have the kids bake them. That means a lot.
So, instead of letting your kids watch Batman XIV to provide them with the answers to life, instead of subjecting them with a barrage of TV ads that claim country values, have them write and mail thank you cards to those individuals and companies who support them and their clubs. These people need to hear this.
Have your kids get on Google to see what their music stars really represent. How many city kids get to camp in these ranches they all own? For me, it doesn’t matter how these ‘heroes’ give back, it matters if they do or don’t.
In fact, you get on Google and see what the companies you support are doing. Are they supporting the lifestyle they make money on? Is this where you want your money to go?
And when you go to the grocery or hardware store, hunt down the manager and tell her you buy here because they support what you believe in. If they don’t support it, or pretend to support it, consider an alternative.
Sure beats staring up into the skyscrapers in unquestioned adoration of some fancy pants in fluorescent tights.
Oh, and show your kids this:
The Peterson Brothers. Heroes:
And ladies, if your man’s main goal in life is to have the best ‘man cave’ in town, he doesn’t deserve those home baked cookies.