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MacGyver Joins the Farm Worker Struggle against Pesticides

by Curtis Marez

This scene is from an episode of MacGyver called “Bitter Harvest” (1990).  The series ran on ABC from 1985 to 1992 (hence coinciding with a UFW boycott to draw attention to pesticides) and focused on the secret agent of the title who, in this episode, intervenes on the side of a farm worker union in its battle with a pesticide-happy grape grower.

While it could be criticized for constructing MacGyver as a kind of great white savior, “Bitter Harvest” presented prime time audiences with important information about UFW campaigns (including references to the infamous McFarland cancer cluster) while dramatically evoking the social context farm workers have historically faced including lax state regulation, pro-agribusiness local police, and corporate-sponsored vigilante violence.

In this scene, for instance, MacGyver accepts a ride from union leader Tony Garcia but they are run off the road by agribusiness thugs.

Farm Machinery Murder Weapon

by Curtis Marez

The use of a tractor-drawn disc harrow to kill a U.S. agent investigating the murder of farm workers recalls historic agribusiness ideologies that frame imagine technology as a weapon aimed at controlling labor.

MacGyver Joins the Farm Worker Struggle against Pesticides

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This scene from an espisode of MacGyver reflects the contemporary struggle of the United Farm Workers against pesticides.

from MacGyver (1990)
Creator: Michael Vejar
Distributor: Paramount TV
Posted by Curtis Marez