I decided to write about the 84 Lumber Super Bowl ad (the complete version). Then I realized it will take more than one post. Anyhoo, here is just my recounting the surface of what’s going on. I’ll unpack more of it, and why it’s a terrible narrative for immigration policy, in another post.
So, here’s the whole thing:
And here’s the play by play:
First, there is a picture of of a village that represents a steady state of squalor. Clearly, nothing here can or will be improved. It’s not a place to love or try to develop…. it’s place to leave. The culture and heritage is represented by the out of touch old man that offers the girl a brightly wrapped piece of candy. It’s a nice package with no real substance. It’s a nice hollow gesture that she ultimately utilizes in a very different way.
While the mother and daughter may have only a few meager possessions kept touchingly in an old shoe box, they have a kind of quiet dignity. Very quiet, as we shall see…
Then follows a montage of a few minutes that carries the message: Damn! Travel in Mexico is HARD!!! Forget Uber or even buses, apparently the only way to get around is hiking through (suspiciously pristine) deserts and mountains, hitching rides in trucks or riding the rails like 1930’s hobos. Along the way the daughter picks up bits of plastic and paper and other rubbish and is clearly up to something. While she is clearly worried, the mother hardly says anything, her language is entirely functional and can be as easily abandoned as their nondescript village.
Meanwhile, in a place that is not stuck in steady state squalor, busy men and busily working and building things. Clearly anyone who wants to build things needs to leave Mexico (where nothing can be built) and head north where they can cut lumper with circular saws, wear protective work goggles and manage to look very serious while wearing neon yellow vests.
Back to the mother and daughter where hundreds of miles covered by truck, train and mostly foot lead to…. THE WALL! Apparently there is either no news media in sad unchanging Mexico (it just figures!) or the wall was constructed by the serious men in a hurry because things move fast north of sad, slow, unchanging Mexico.
The mother is stuck in mute sadness and inertia like the noble peasant she is and the daughter tries to cheer her up (or to completely break her psychologically, it’s not entirely clear) with a sad, shabby little American flag she’d been making out of the…. refuse! Oh…. I get it! They are the wretched refuse! Mexico’s shores (or deserts) may not be teeming, but they yearn to breathe free.
Then they see a sliver of sun in perpetually shadowy Mexico and they slowly realize something is up, while the camera cuts to a slightly less serious man driving in a pickup truck with a bunch of lumber and equipment in back. His has a “That’ll show ‘em!” smile.
The mother and daughter are crying as the gates of paradise open and heavenly light of the place where things are built shines upon their humble faces and they swing the gates open and take their first steps into a New Life… as the final cut goes to pickup truck man and the final message is flashed on the screen: THE WILL TO SUCCEED IS ALWAYS WELCOME HERE.
That’s it for the basic content, next is some more analysis…
end part one….