Friday, May 06, 2011

Ree Drummond's Pioneer Woman Blog

Ree Drummond of the Pioneer Woman blog
Ree Drummond is to housewives and homeschooling moms what columnist Erma Bombeck was to our mothers. She might be your role model.  She might be your nemesis.   Some love her $1 million blog, Pioneer Woman.  Others satirize it.

Here are a few of her tips for blogging:

 Be yourself.
Write in your own voice.
Write as if you’re talking to your sister.
Unless you don’t get along with your sister.
Or don’t have a sister.

It's very cute, you have to admit.

I read about her successful blog last winter, probably in The New York Times.  It began as a regular blog in 2006.

Then it got popular.  It became a big business.

She writes about housework, her family, ranching, cooking, and homeschooling. It is now organized into six blogs, and the site is honestly a bit confusing for neophytes.  It is divided into Home, Confessions, Cooking, Photography, Home & Garden, and Tasty Kitchen, and I'm not sure WHAT I want to read.  It is an online diary, with ads, giveaways, and many photographs.  It gets 23.3 million page views per month, according to The New Yorker, and she made approximately $1 million one year.

She reminds me of an American Dovegreyreader, without book chat.  Dovegreyreader has Bookhound (her husband), the Tinker (I don't know why he's called that, either), the Kayaker, Offspringette, and a (now dead) cat named Rocky.  Pioneer Woman has Marlboro Man (her husband), Charlie (a basset hound), multiple animals, Juice Box (her toddler), the Kids, and Mike (her brother). 

Marlboro Man
What struck me about Pioneer Woman when I first visited was the butt shots.  Perhaps I went on a slow day.   Here is Marlboro Man's butt in jeans.  She writes:

"I don’t own a pair (of Wranglers jeans) myself, but I know someone who does. He’s six feet tall, has bulging biceps, and I’ve had four of his children. I’ve considered slipping on a pair of his Wranglers before—whether it be because I was short on durable work jeans or I was going to some costume party dressed as a man—but I’ve always stopped short because I was afraid to see how well they fit me."

She's quirky and funny, fascinating to some, but a little goes a long way with a feminist non-mom like me.  She is an editor's dream, because her cookbook and memoir have been best-sellers.  She now also has a children's book about her dog Charlie!  The blog is a modern woman's Western about a hip mom.  But, much as I like the pictures of cows with new calves, I don't frequent the blog.  She is of a different generation:  chick lit-ish humor.

There is a fascinating, not completely flattering article in The New Yorker about Ree Drummond this week.   The article also alerted me to an extremely cruel and unfunny blog called The Pioneer Woman Sux.  Why anyone would stalk and hate Ree Drummond so viciously is beyond me. At our house, we don't read EITHER Pioneer Woman.


Ellen said...

I wouldn't be able to take much of it or the cruel one parodying it.


Frisbee said...

I assume her market demographics are 20-30ish? Perhaps it's like the Julie & Julia phenomenon (though I don't know if Julie got rich).

Ellen said...

I've found a good article which places these housewife-turned-professional blogs in a context that shows the parallels with game shows and reality TV. In all of these the people at the center "makes themselves over" to conform to often class-ridden social norms (they get rid of stigmas from their "before" selves); they offer their new self up for surveillance (the "after" self that emerges). They get paid -- sometimes making a lot but more often claiming far more. They can present themselves to others as famous. It's in the most recent New Yorker: Kelefa Sanneh "The Reality Principle," May 9, 2008, pp. 72ff. I was struck to find my sense that Queen for a Day is the ur-progenitor of them all.


Frisbee said...

There is a tendency to sentimentalize in personal columns and women's blogs, where women must be mothers to have legitimacy among their readers. There's Jean Kerr, Shirley Jackson, Erma Bombeck, Anna Quindlen (okay, serious,but still a mom, and many others in this genre. Ree Drummond plays the "sexy blogger housewife," a new variation on the pardigm, to perfection. Her life is idealized: Gourmet magazine-quality photos of the food she cooks, cuteness everywhere--and I don't think anything ever goes wrong (though I've only read her blog a few times).

So it IS a kind of crazy reality show. Personal blogs ARE fun, but they end up chronicling others' lives and that gets problematic. Or it can.