Published on: March 13, 2014
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Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
I've had a chance to watch the first few episodes of "Farmed and Dangerous," the original series on Hulu that satirizes industrial farming, and that has been underwritten by Chipotle in an effort to present its position on industrialized farming vs. sustainable agriculture. It is yet another entry in what I think is a pretty ingenious approach by Chipotle that is almost anti-advertising … it presents its message in a way that tries to position the company as being above all that crass advertising stuff.
The Chipotle names gets mentioned, but only in the bumpers. Other companies - including Kellogg's and Chase - have commercials on the program. And the story of the video never refers to Chipotle.
Now, let me be clear. I'm sympathetic to Chipotle's position on sustainable agriculture. I'm not inclined to paint with a broad brush and characterize all industrial farming as evil incarnate, but I think that products from local, small scale producers almost always taste better than the alternative … at least, that's my experience.
The problem with "Farmed and Dangerous" is that it does paint with a broad brush and a heavy hand, to the point where I'm not sure it will have sufficient appeal to do what it needs to do. "Satire is what closes on Saturday night," the playwright George S. Kaufmann once said, suggesting that it is hard to strike the right balance that allows satire to also be entertaining. It requires some subtlety, I think … and 'Farmed and Dangerous," I'm afraid, doesn't have much of that.
The performances are decent, especially that of Ray Wise, who plays the PR guru trying to position industrial farmers - who want to stop feeding cows actual food and replace it with a petroleum-based pellet that has the unfortunate result of causing cows to explode. He's appropriately smarmy … though it tells you everything you need to know that one of his more recent roles was as Satan on the TV series "Reaper." The writing is okay, but not exactly subtle … it is like the writers prefer to use a sledge hammer rather than a laptop.
One other thought. For messages like these to be really effective, they can't just preach to the choir. You have to be able to at least engage in a conversation that will have people who don't agree with you, or haven't made up their minds, to come to the table and talk, or at least listen. There have been plenty of newspaper and magazine stories about members of the industrial agriculture community who feel they are being unfairly smeared. Methinks they doth protest too much, but I also think that the "Farmed and Dangerous" approach allows for some legitimate criticism.
I do think that there is a really good TV series out there that could be made about this issue, but "Farmed and Dangerous," at least so far, ain't it.
That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: