WashPost Looks at Immigration Through Ford Pickup Truck Ad

I venture to say I'm not alone in thinking that the new "Bold moves" series of car ads by Ford Motor Company quickly replaced the Dodge ones with the HEMI-obsessed schlub as the dumbest auto ads on the tube lately.

But that's not deep enough for The Washington Post's David Montgomery. He sees one particular ad as a window to America's psyche on immigration of all things. Here's how he opened his story.

So this hunky, swarthy, full-lipped guy in a white cowboy hat is tooling down a country road in a red pickup truck. He comes upon a big tree fallen across both lanes. No problem. He off-roads around the obstacle and cruises on.

But in the rearview he spies a dude driving a silver convertible with a dark-haired beauty in the passenger seat. They can't get around the tree.

Cowboy knows what to do. He lassos a chain around the tree and drags that sucker out of the way. Convertible Dude says: "Appreciate it." Cowboy replies: "Anytime."

To this point, the encounter has the usual ingredients of American myth: Nature's vengeance on the frontier. Laconic men, their humming machines and silent women. Cowboy to the rescue.

Then the lady, who looks Latina, addresses Cowboy -- in Spanish.

" Gracias, Manuel."

Cowboy tips his hat.

Driving away, Convertible Dude is puzzled. He asks, "You know him?"

"Yes," she says, in English, with a flirty smile. "He's my ex-boyfriend."

Maybe at another time a Ford truck commercial could be just a Ford truck commercial. Manuel could be just a guy with a truck. But not now. The immigration debate is burning, and the Latino influence on American society is under examination.

The commercial becomes a Rorschach test, a 30-second telenovela suggesting multiple back-stories and future plot twists. Manuel is coming, Manuel is here, Manuel saves the day. But Convertible Dude -- a gringo, right? -- still has the girl. Will he keep her? Who wins this showdown?

Ay, carumba!

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.