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"Is This Land Made for You and Me"

Authors: Richard Furtick*, University of North Texas
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Social Theory, Marketing Geography
Keywords: Folk Music, Advertising, Alienation
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper seeks to examine how alienation from our natural environment has allowed a commodification process to occur that allows corporate interests to market products under the guise those goods will alleviate that alienation. Specifically it uses the example of “This Land is Your Land”, the seminal Woody Guthrie work that gives us the title to this paper, and how its original messages are colonized are reproduced in order to market these products. The song originates as a response to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” and offers a critical look at some of the same landscapes lionized in Berlin’s work. “This Land is Your Land” has since taken a similar role that “God Bless America”, and its radical lyrics have been cleansed in order to make it an anthem of American nationalism. It is a subsumption that moves steadily and subtly, but it reproduces the music in a way that undercuts its original efforts. This paper uses discourse analysis to show "This Land is Your Land" gets reproduced to emphasize its pastoral qualities, and how marketers use the reproduced song to tap into our alienation from nature in order to sell commodity goods.

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