|Photo credit: Coca-Cola|
Glancing at a random lot of tweets sent fast and furious on the tail of Coke’s 90-second Super Bowl ad, “America Is Beautiful,” it felt like front row seating at a bar brawl, only the ones throwing punches sat safely behind their computer tops.
My first reaction was shock, then horror with exclamations of such profound racism, but that quickly turned to wonder as I zoomed in on the last names of the tweeters themselves. A few, in no particular order: Wunderlin, Moyer, Staehle, Kline and Lepley. Hello Germans, Austrians, Swedes, Scots and a whole boot full of other ancestral lines.
A guy named Anthony Lifrieri wrote: “coca cola this is america. To quote an American patriot: we speak English in this country.” O.K., but certainly your Italian ancestors didn’t.
In the event you somehow missed all the fuss: the controversial spot features bilinguals singing “America the Beautiful” in seven different languages – English, Spanish, Keres, Tagalog, Hindi, Senegalese French and Hebrew – while the screen pans various U.S. landscapes with multicultural families in everyday scenes, capped with the hashtag #AmericaIsBeautiful.
Coke was speared, called every name in the book, including commie and terrorist-supporting while there were numerous threats to boycott, paired with bad Photoshop pics: a Bald Eagle clutching a Pepsi, superimposed over the American flag; another shows contents of the iconic red can being poured down a toilet.
Defiantly, Coke went further, releasing an extended, behind-the-scenes version of the spot, spelling out “America is Beautiful. And gets more beautiful every day,” with interviews of culturally-mixed Americans around the country who touch on both the happiness and pride they experience as citizens, as well as prejudice they have encountered.
I’ll admit it, this one got me.
We have faced discrimination in our household, as have many of our friends from other countries. It’s not always overt, but obvious all the same. It’s not even worth getting into, but does it upset me? Yes. Luis is able to diffuse a look, a comment, an indecent reaction faster than I can.
On the upside, I think positive voices outweigh the negative ones.
There’s no way to poll in any exact way, but to date, the original commercial has been viewed by close to 11 million on YouTube, with over 44,000 likes, compared to 10,000-plus dislikes.
I will stay out of the fight and leave it to Coke and its powerhouse genius strokes, such as this: all of the foreign-language singers in the ad are Americans. Very sweet, very cute ones at that, making the xenophobes look like big, ugly bullies.