If you don't care about the Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond, famous blogger and fortunate recipient of an open letter from me, I can assure you, you're not going to care about this post. Sorry.
One day last week someone at work mentioned with no small amount of horror the existence of Pioneer Woman-bashing websites. I was instantly curious. What particularly did people think sucked about her? Though I count myself as a fan especially of her earlier posts where she did more writing and storytelling and fewer of her trademark bits, I could definitely see that she could be a person who inspired annoyance and criticism. A little googling (wouldn't you think that the spell-checker in Google Chrome would recognize googling as a word?) led me to The Pioneer Woman Sux which led me to some other sites (Rechelle Unplugged, Pie Near Woman, Marlboro Woman), and I became fascinated with the anti-Ree movement that I discovered.
I don't want to over-generalize the views of these folks, but by and large, they are people who have a problem with the false image she's projecting. She's made her following by "keepin' it real," but according to her detractors, she's not. Her ordinary family ranch is one of the largest in Oklahoma, and they were millionaires long before her books became national best-sellers, which doesn't necessarily jibe with the down-home, regular girl persona (although anyone looking at her cooking posts can tell from her cookware and dishes that her disposable income isn't exactly in the "regular" range). Another fact that lends to the perceived lack of authenticity is the cleaning up of her site--posts that have disappeared, wording that has been prettied up from the original posts as she's grown in popularity, negative comments from readers that disappear or never get published at all. There are many who also have quite a bit to say about her writing style, the nutritional value (or lack therof) of her recipes, and all those basset hound photos, but I think these smaller quibbles wouldn't have created the heated backlash that has spawned these sites if not for the more duplicitous feel of the image she's projecting versus the facts of her life.
My research may have started from simple curiosity, but the more I read the more sense all these folks made, and I must admit that I'm much less comfortable now about Ree as my homegirl. In truth, I feel foolish for having bought into her story. And perhaps that foolish feeling is well-deserved. Of course, people don't achieve overwhelming success as she has without seeking out some of that recognition. Of course, there's a marketing/branding agenda. I guess I never noticed because I didn't care . . . and I kind of still don't. I can still like most of the things I've liked about her even if she's fake--probably.
With the intense following that PW has, the sites I've mentioned naturally get at least some criticism from Ree's loyal fans. A few comments I read wondered why if people were so unhappy with her, they continued to read her site or give it attention, and admittedly, I initially wondered this myself. No one's forcing them to read her posts or acknowledge her in any way, so why go there and read the stuff and get worked up enough to create entire sites pointing out her flaws?
But the truth is I completely understand why because I am often that person. I do that. There are times and people and situations in my life where I'm so incensed/offended/horrified by some falseness or deceit or pretension or brazen rule-breaking that I've been unable ignore it or forgive it or move past it. Even when it doesn't directly affect me, these sorts of traits fly in the face of my sense of honesty and justice, and while I've never created websites to right any wrongs or vent my frustrations, it makes sense to me. And it makes me feel a certain kinship with PWSux and Rechelle and the Marlboro Woman, even if their fight isn't my fight--even if I probably won't stop reading PW or making buttery recipes or entering some of her contests.
Because the truth is reading Rechelle's parody website is about to become my new obsession, and it's ever so much funnier if you know enough about PW to understand what's going on.