on falling in and out of like with a blog

17 Jun

When I first started reading Ree Drummond’s blog last spring, I was pretty enamored with it. I loved the idea of a blog that documented life on an Oklahoma cattle ranch, I loved that she had shared the story of meeting and falling in love with her husband with her readers, I loved how many pictures she put in her recipe posts (an illiterate person would likely be able to recreate her recipes because she documents each step so meticulously). And I was dumbfounded by the scope of the blog– everything from photography tutorials to homeschooling advice to interior decorating.

I had stumbled across Confessions of a Pioneer Woman a few times prior to last spring, but I didn’t become a regular reader until then. I made a few of the recipes she had posted, including a veggie-loaded pasta salad that remains a favorite of mine. I like to add marinated pan-fried tofu to it to make it more filling. It’s a lot of prep work, what with chopping tons of vegetables, but the payoff is delish.

Now, becoming a PW reader in the Spring of 2010, I was way behind the times. Drummond began her blog in May 2006, and she quickly amassed lots and lots of followers. She won Weblog of the Year in the 2009 Bloggies, published a cookbook, even sold the rights to the story of meeting her husband. Rumor has it that Reese Witherspoon will star in the film adaptation of Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, which was published as a book on Valentines Day 2011.

Fast forward to over a year later. Without putting too fine a point on things, I’ll just say that the allure of The Pioneer Woman wore off a while ago for me. I began to notice that most of her recipes follow the Paula Deen school of adding-more-butter-no-matter-what, and that healthy meals were few and far between. I began to be tired of posts featuring literally 20 photos of the same basset hound. I began to be a bit creeped out by how fanatical her thousands of followers seemed to be; even though many of her posts boast hundreds of comments, none of them seem to be less than fawning. More importantly, I began to seriously question a) the sincerity and honesty of Drummond’s writing and b) how much of it one wife and mother could actually be producing.

A quick search revealed that I was not alone in my PW disillusionment. I learned that Ree has her detractors, and even a few blogs dedicated to criticizing her site. The cliff notes: Despite her claims of “keeping it real” on her blog, Drummond is not upfront about the fact that the family she married into is one of the wealthiest in Oklahoma. This is clearly not typical ranch life. It is estimated that the PW blog brought in over $3 million last year in advertising revenue (and $1,000,000 of that went right to Ree). She has a staff that posts to different sections of the blog, and it is unclear how many of the posts are written by the staff. The fact that many people are running the blog (and moderating the comments) explains some things about her apparently rabid fanbase. She and her husband also employ more than one full-time teacher to homeschool their children. While there might not be anything wrong with any of these facts, they don’t jive with the image Drummond portrays of being a down-to-earth ranch mom in Osage County.

Sorry for taking so many words to give the history of my feelings about PW; this was meant to be a recipe post for a Beet Pizza Dough I made, inspired by a PW recipe round-up. This sort of got away from me, so I’m going to share the recipe as a seperate post.

Friends, do any of you read PW? Do you have thoughts on her, her blog, or her legions of fans?

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3 Responses to “on falling in and out of like with a blog”

  1. Annie Michaels June 22, 2011 at 11:15 PM #

    i feel that you are a journalist. this is expose quality of a gentle kind.

    • hopingfor June 24, 2011 at 8:32 AM #

      thanks, annie! : ) there are some hard-hitters out there doing the real exposes…

  2. Jon L. July 17, 2011 at 6:06 AM #

    Yuck. I poked around the PW blog a bit, mostly because we are going to Oklahoma for a wedding in September, and I haven’t been to that state since the mid 1990s. Ree’s site doesn’t just look like a blog — it looks like one of those scrapbooking stores where the merchandise goes from floor to ceiling. In order to stop the migraine I felt coming on in its tracks, I had to close the window, and I won’t be going back.

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