A Commercial We Hate to Love: Cadillac’s “In America, We Work Hard”

Cadillac’s electric hybrid commercial is incredibly effective.

It chills. Inspires. It’s arrogant. It is justified American smugness.

And it fills the quintessential longing: it tells us who we are. Americans are in constant, desperate need of reassuring and validation: our fundamental choices are right; our great sacrifices are justified; these make us better than everyone else. So, when we hear those choices asserted defiantly, without reservation or equivocation, by a quintessential American actor Neal McDonough, it’s enough to make you . . . proud. “We are Americans, dammit. And this makes us, not you, great.”

Even the cynical and critical amongst us must collect and marshal their thoughts in opposition against the sentiments so passionately evoked to recognize the essential message–the predominant focus on work and materials–may not be healthy much less ideal.  And to take it further, that the reality of the commercial (a $70-80k coupe) makes it inaccessible to the overwhelming majority of Americans.  The rest are numbed by the narcotic reinforcement of the American myth of hard work, wild success and the guaranteed connection between the two.

Yeah, I’m American dammit, regardless of everything else.


Why do we work so hard?  For what? For this (showing a large swimming pool in the back yard)?  For stuff?  Other countries, they work, they stroll home, the stop by the cafe, they take August off.  Off! Why aren’t you like that?  Why aren’t we like that?

Because we’re crazy, driven, hard-working believers, that’s why.  Those other countries think we’re nuts. Whatever.  Were the Wright Brothers insane? Bill Gates, Les Paul, Ali? Were we nuts when we pointed to the moon?  That’s right, we went up there and you know what we got? Bored. So we left. Got a car up there and we left the keys in it, do you know why? Because we’re the only ones going back up there, that’s why. 

But I digress. You work hard, you create your own luck, and you gotta believe anything is possible.  As for all the stuff. That’s the upside of only taking two weeks off in August.  N’est-ce pas?

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