The Deadman Night Rider

A forum for evening students of the SMU Dedman School of Law and other outlaws..

Friday, May 05, 2006

Texas Ranch House blogging

Well, last night was the last episode of Texas Ranch House on PBS. It was one of those shows that PBS does that takes modern-day people and tries to put them in historical settings to see how they cope. Probably the best one so far was the one set in England where the family lived as if it were 1900. The family was really committed to the project and were real troopers. Unfortunately, the ones set here in the States always seem to have 'people' problems--perhaps by design, as when a staunch atheist was cast to take part in a Puritan settlement, and then seemed to consider it the height of oppression that she was expected to attend a church service on Sundays. Texas Ranch House proved to be no exception--somehow we got lots of gender issues worked into the mix, although alot of it was just general pissiness masquerading as feminism.

Here's a blogger roundup on Google. I've only read through a few so far, but they are almost unanimously of the opinion that the ranch-owner family, the Cookes, were the ones who sunk this project (especially the overbearing, self-satisfied wife).

The most depressing thing to me about the experiment as it played out was what it showed about how distorted our attitudes toward work have become. Mr. and Mrs. Cooke droned on and on about their keen management experience (he's some kind of hospital administrator and she continually referred to herself as a former business owner) throughout the show, and they definitely ran the ranch according to modern-day middle management techniques--delegating responsibility while withholding authority, trying to skin the cowboys out of wages on the last day to shore up the books, etc.

Mrs. Cooke couldn't stand the fact that the cowboys had more respect for their foreman Robby than for her husband (who couldn't be bothered to be out there with them in field most days and never did learn to handle cattle) so she had to look for ways to take the foreman down a peg. Since actually working to earn their respect was too foreign a concept, the issue was reduced to a power struggle which was promptly cast in male vs. female terms to open up some moral high ground. Putting ol' Robby in his place became MUCH more important than running the ranch--so they ended up constantly interfering with their biggest asset. Office politics transplanted to the prairie, with some allegations of sexism thrown in to strengthen the hand. Pathetic.

Best lesson from the show: you can't lead from the rear. Scariest part: how many people like the Cookes I've known and worked for.


Blogger JessN said...

I can see that you're holding back. ;)Seriously, what you said about leading from the back is so true. Something I learned early on is your workers will be more likely to follow you to the ends of the earth if you ride there with them and work as hard as they do.

The whole time I watched Mr. "ball-less" Cooke, I kept thinking, "Why isn't he out there riding?" I guess the Mrs. had him on a very short leash.

Things like this make me keenly aware that sometimes our own feminist ideas hold us back from real greatness. If we'd worry more about doing the job, and less about what the other person is thinking, perhaps the ranch wouldn't self-destruct.

Great post. I was really unaware of how many of us were posting on this topic. Thanks for your comments on my blog. It was good to hear a man's view on this topic. I have to admit, I think it's also pretty cool that you are from Texas.

1:03 PM  

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