Wednesday, May 11, 2011


The other day, I saw an ad for a truck on television. Finding it funny, I went looking online to see if I could share it--and to my surprise I found tons of links to people who absolutely hate the commercial, and see it as an example of animal cruelty and the celebration of violence.

First the ad:

Do you think it's a celebration of violence or an example of animal cruelty? Or do you, like me, think it's an over-the-top depiction of a hunter that is clearly intended to be funny? (Whether it seems funny to any particular person will, of course, depend on our individual and unique senses of humor, of course.)

Now, I've seen a few hunters criticizing the ad for being "lame," in the sense that no true outdoorsman really cares if crickets or frogs are making noise when he's camping. That's a fair point: in ancient China and Japan, for instance, cages of crickets kept indoors served as "watchdogs," since they immediately stop chirping if anyone approaches; any decent hunter would probably welcome a cricket or twenty near his campsite, since their effectiveness as an early-warning system when danger is near is hard to beat.

And some advertising types have criticized the commercial for having nothing to do with the product: also a fair complaint, since when I first looked up the commercial I couldn't quite remember which truck it was supposed to be advertising. The one class in radio/television writing I got to take in college taught me that humor ads can be dangerous this way--sometimes they are funny enough or outrageous enough or interesting enough to draw attention, but frequently the attention they draw is not particularly linked to the product, which can be hard to remember in hindsight.

But while I can sympathize with these two criticisms, I find the charge of "animal cruelty" or a celebration of violence to be...a little silly. The man is in the woods with archery equipment, after all. He is likely not there for a little target practice involving trees (though you could probably find environmentalists who would complain about that). He is likely there to hunt. Bow and arrow hunting is not the equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel; the hunter has to be somewhat skilled in the sport if he doesn't want to come home empty handed. And most hunters do bring home their kills and use them for food, either for themselves and their families or to share with others. Unless you oppose all use of animal meat for food, it's hard to oppose hunting.

Yet there are some who do, even if they are meat eaters themselves. I'm not sure what it is about hunting that sparks this reaction--but it's there, and I think that most of the people who are calling the rather absurd notion that a hunter could, or would, use his bow and arrow to shoot and kill a cricket chirping some distance away in the dark at night in the woods "animal cruelty" are among that camp.

In the interests of full disclosure, I have never hunted, and would probably be terrible at it, since I strongly dislike camping and many other ruggedly outdoorsy activities. So I am not defending hunting on personal grounds. But I know that hunters have to justify their sporting activities all the time, despite the good benefits hunting can bring about (e.g., control of certain animal populations, increased self-sufficiency, the ability to donate to the hungry, etc.).

So, I'm curious: what are your thoughts about hunting? Does your perception of hunting seem to affect your perspective on this commercial? Or do you like or dislike the commercial for reasons that have nothing to do with hunting?


Anonymous said...

If I could write well, this is exactly what I would have written - about the ad, the criticisms, and the hunting. My dad is a hunter, the bow and arrow tracking kind, not the beer in the blind kind (which seems patently unfair and not much like hunting), and I have no problem with it. It's groceries. Harvesting the overpopulation of deer and wild hogs here in Texas is good wildlife management - leaving many to starve is what I would consider cruel.

I dislike the commercial because it's silly, and advertising is ridiculous anymore. I can probably name more items I would NOT buy due to the they're promoted, rather than the other way around.

Anonymous said...

...due to the way they're promoted, that is

Charlotte (Waltzing Matilda) said...

I was chuckling at the comment in the name post below that said the name Hunter was "extraordinarily aggressive"! Before people were farmers, they were hunters and gatherers (but don't name your kid "Gatherer" because that's just weird). Most hunters hunt to put food on the table and because it's a pastime they enjoy like gardening. Do people really need to garden today, what with the abundance of tomatoes and squash at the grocery store? I grew up with doves and rice instead of chicken and rice, deer sausage instead of andouille and backstrap instead of steak some nights. My freezer is full of elk meat right now that my father gave us and I made an awesome stew with it just the other night! So I really don't understand the mentality that hunting= human aggressiveness or animal cruelty.

Now the commercial is funny because it's supposed to be funny and over the top, not realistic. It's a different take on the old slapstick routine that if it's not one thing, it's another, but like Red said it's probably not very effective as a marketing campaign since it doesn't make you remember the product.

Anonymous said...

While I do not hunt, I recognize hunting as one of the few remaining refuges of masculinity out there and as such, the cultural onslaught to eradicate any traces of manly activity means hunting will always be in the crosshairs (pun intended, sue me).

So, to help solve the question of "Where are all the men in Church?" I propose the Parish-sponsored Bambi-killing weedend. :)

Deacon Dean said...

The commercial opened with a truck, then the word "Hemi". Right away any self-respecting "guy" (I don't mean to be sexist, but to my wife a vehicle is identified by color, not make or model)will know it's a RAM truck. And it finishes with the sound of the arrow as the RAM logo pops out. I think it was clever and, for the intended market, an easily identified product.

c matt said...

Have to agree with Deacon Dean - the ad probably "hit the mark" with the "targeted" audience (I'll see your pun and raise you one, rg).

I've got nothing against hunting at all, although I don't do it myself. Didn't native Americans and other favored aboriginal groups hunt?

I can surely aprreciate the skill hunting takes, particularly with a compound bow that can have upwards of 60 lb pull on it. I just hope it wasn't Jiminy's cousin.

Red Cardigan said...

Oh, good point, Deacon Dean. As a female non-hunter my attention was caught by the "story"...e.g., guy camping, guy disturbed by noisy insect, etc. But you're right: the target audience noticed the truck, I'm sure!

Melanie B said...

I thought it was a funny ad. Made me chuckle. I have nothing against hunting, though I've never done it or had anyone close to me do i for that matter. I'm a bit jealous of Charlotte's freezer, in fact.

eulogos said...

It is silly but otherwise I don't see anything wrong with it. Was taught the same things about hunting as what Cottage Child said. My father showed me bones in the woods and said it was a young female deer that died of starvation, showed me why he knew that from the bones, which I forget, and that since humans had eliminated the predators, hunting was the only way to control the deer population so they didn't starve. Some of the predators are now coming back, but there are still lots of deer.
Not a hunter myself but certainly have eaten venison killed by other hunters in this rural area. Don't see it as any worse than eating beef killed in a slaughterhouse. I suppose complete vegetarians can be consistent on this, although I think they are mistaken. No one who eats meat at all has any right to deplore hunting. Of course there are ways to hunt right, like making sure your deer is dead, not wandering around injured.

I think they guy is supposed to be a really tough big shot because he could shoot the the dark. Yeah, right. But funny.


RLB_IV said...

Another silly commercial. If the sound of the forest annoys you, go back to your city apartment.

Amy said...

I'm all about hunting and eating meat (if I knew how to do it I would be out there myself...venison stew...mmmmm). It's funny that those meat-eaters who oppose hunting will readily grill up a corn-fed CAFO steak from their nearby chain grocery store without a second thought. As long as they don't have to think about where the animal which is providing them with sustenance came from or how it was treated, their consciences are clear.

The problem I see with the ad is that this particular hunting is not really hunting, but offing creatures that inconvenience him. I can see why this is objectionable. If something bothers you, kill it. A hunter kills for food. This guy's killing for his own comfort.

I also think the ad's kinda stupid, but then I'm rarely impressed by advertisements these days.