The Hess Report

Monday, May 09, 2005

Deconstructing Ford 

"I'm a Ford Truck man.
It's all I drive.
I ain't got no boundaries.
I don't compromise."

Wow. That's some tough talk. And the guy who sings it sounds like a really tough guy, almost like he wants you to say that Ford trucks aren't King of the Mountain and aren't Built Ford Tough, just so he can pound your ass into the pavement.

But I have a question that I don't think Mr. Super Ford Singer Guy (SFSG) has thought of: isn't stating that you will only drive a single kind of truck a bit limiting? Does it not, in fact, constitute a boundary, in direct contrast to the subsequent assertion? Faced with this clear contradiction, the listener is forced to consider their options for reconciling such wildly diverging claims.

As I see it, there are three ways to approach this:

1. The double negative in "ain't got no boundaries" is meant to be interpreted logically, instead of colloquially, and we are to understand that SFSG is admitting to having boundaries. If that's what he's doing, then I say fair enough. He's basically saying "I exhibit senseless brand loyalty, and also experience issues with self-imposed boundaries and my inability to get along with others in the form of compromise." A brave statement for a tough-sounding man to make. Maybe his group therapy is working well for him.

2. The statement about boundaries is meant to be taken colloquially, ignoring the double negative, but is not intended as relevant to the choice of trucks. It's more of a personal statement, akin to "I cannot keep my hands to myself." Using this interpretation, the lyric scans as "I only drive Ford trucks, and, though it's not related, I thought I'd let you know that I'm prone to inappropriate touching."

3. Like President Clinton, we could carefully parse the contracted "is" in "It('/ i)s all I drive." One could assume this to mean "it is all that I currently drive, have ever driven, and will ever drive." I think that this is the most likely interpretation, relying on SFSG's dismissive tone which suggests a confidence into perpetuity. However, assuming that is the case leads us to the above contradiction, so it must not be. The next way to look at the statement is that "is" only refers to the now. No future endorsement is intended. "It's all I drive today," he may be saying, "But if next years Mitsubishi trucks are better, then I, being a person not limited by boundaries, would switch to the offering of the upstart foreign competitor."

Oh, wait. I said there were three explanations. There are actually four. Here's the last, best one:

4. Toby Keith is a whore who will say anything for a buck.

And everyone seems to know it, too. I tease the people I know who actually own Ford trucks. I ask them if they're a "Ford Truck Man", and they get all embarrassed. When I ask them if they don't have any boundaries and whether or not they compromise, they usually do that squinty nod and say "Ha, ha. Shut up. Those commercials suck. Ford actually makes good trucks."

So the inference I take from the aggregate consumer response to this ad is that it is embarrassing (because they know that Ford has a man-whore shilling for their product), and it actually casts doubt on the quality of the product (to a man, everyone has felt the need to defend the quality of their purchase when confronted with this ad, as though such an ad were a challenge to its quality).

I think it's time for Ford to switch their ad campaign. Or to just disappear altogether. Oh wait again. That's already happening.

At least he actually uses the product he endorses. He may have jumped on the "i'll sell a product for a buck" bandwagon, but at least it's not the "i'll sell my soul to to be a pollitically correct conservative bashing soulless man-whore" bandwagon.
Two excellent points. And far be it from me to criticize someone for using their position to make a legitmate buck. Okay, I was criticizing him, but only if you consider the term "whore" a criticism.

And indeed, Toby has shown a great deal of balls (FORD TRUCK balls!) in visiting forward operating bases in Iraq to meet with soldiers and Marines who wouldn't otherwise get the normal USO treatment.

So let's compromise (unlike the drivers of Ford Trucks) and call him a brave, patriotic man-whore who's assent to certain commercial lyric choices should haunt him only slightly, as they are outshined by his own good works.
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