Monday, February 03, 2014

Coke pisses off people, people unable to clearly articulate why

These days the old "I don't care about the game but I watch the Super Bowl for the commercials" line makes even less sense than it used to. Putting aside the fact that the commercials are not nearly as good as they are reputed to be, any one that is interesting enough to create a buzz will be easy to find and watch on YouTube later on.

The buzz I saw this morning is about this one:

I must admit, I don't get what conservatives are so upset about. Actually, it seems like conservatives themselves don't themselves understand what the problem is. At least they are not very good at articulating it. Allen West posted that it was a "truly disturbing commercial" for him without really explaining why it is disturbing. He quotes Teddy Roosevelt saying that all immigrants should be required to learn the language after they arrive. But that doesn't explain why he would get disturbed hearing "America the Beautiful" in a foreign language. I mean, if you believe in the Roosevelt proposal it still doesn't explain why hearing the song partially sung in a different language would be bothersome. Roosevelt's position assumes that people who come here and who will stay do speak other languages and they are part of this country, even if ultimately he expects them to assimilate. has a piece titled "Why Coca-Cola's 'America the Beautiful' Ad Was Offensive" that fails to answer that very question. The closest it comes is this paragraph at the end:
The old “America the Beautiful” is beautiful because of the blessings God had heaped on it and because its government offers “liberty in law,” while aspiring for togetherness. Coca Cola's America is beautiful because of the differences in its people. When the company used such an iconic song, one often sung in churches on the 4th of July that represents the old “E Pluribus Unum” view of how American society is integrated, to push multiculturalism down our throats, it's no wonder conservatives were outraged.
But how does an audio track with some of the verses of that song sung in different languages "push multiculturalism down our throats"? It's a commercial ferchristssake. Sure, you can argue that the multilingual song is taking a point of view about the country that you might disagree with, but why is that offensive? Commercials always take a point of view, usually just on the product they are selling, but sometimes they do veer into politics. I often disagree with commercials. That doesn't make them offensive or disturbing. One company presenting its point of view certainly is not pushing anything down anyone's throat.

Personally, I think what is going on is simple bigotry. The people complaining about the ad don't like people who don't speak English and are particularly offended because they have turned a patriotic song like "America the Beautiful" into a quasi-religious phenomenon. John Hawkins of RightWingNews is the only one who seems clueless enough to let his true colors show: "there is nothing 'beautiful' about Americans that don’t speak English," he writes. And why not? He doesn't say. I submit that sentiment does not make sense to anyone who doesn't harbor some prejudice against non-English speakers. To the bigot, I suppose, it is just self-evident.


ADDING: What Amanda Marcotte said.