Two weeks ago, the United States enjoyed its favorite annual sporting event, the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl holds varying degrees of relevance for Americans, from barely registering on their radar for some, to ground-shatteringly significant for others. All can agree, though, that the Super Bowl defines an image of America. There seems to be some disparity, however, on just what a good image of America is.
Almost as famous as the game itself are its commercials. Undoubtedly the most valuable airtime available, companies pay millions of dollars per second of airtime to advertise their products. Typically these ads speak to the common American; they are often funny, patriotic and inclusive. Occasionally, they can even be a little sappy, such as this year’s Budweiser puppy ad. Unfortunately, even the most positive of messages can slight some viewers.
Coca-Cola, the most recognized beverage brand name in the world, was the target of intense criticism after airing an advertisement celebrating the diverse and vibrant culture of the United States. The ad celebrates the tapestry of this nation, full of people from many walks of life and origins, all to the tune of “America the Beautiful.” The offense was that the iconic tune was sung in nine languages.
Critics of the ad condemned Coca-Cola for allowing the patriotic classic to be sung in foreign languages, languages other than English, that is. Critics seemed oblivious that the United States has no official language, and that in states such as New Jersey (where the Super Bowl took place this year), a quarter of the population speak languages other than English. Multiple pundits showed clear opinions of distaste, such as Glenn Beck, who stated on his show: “Why did you need that to divide us politically? Because that’s all this ad is. It’s in your face, and if you don’t like it, if you’re offended by it, you’re a racist. If you do like it, you’re for immigration. You’re for progress. That’s all this is: to divide people.”
Buzzfeed also reported angry commentary from average citizens around the country via Twitter. Many critics somehow connected the languages of their fellow citizens to anti-American terrorist groups abroad, suggesting Coca-Cola should “go the Middle East to sell their product,” also unaware that terrorist organizations are not exclusive to the Middle East. One critic tweeted “[expletive] outa here you communist liquid,” suggesting that the use of multiple languages in the United States was somehow reflective of communism, ignorant to the fact that, historically, the reverse is true; communist nations typically force their citizens to use one language. Still others had deeper levels of confusion: “how you gonna have foreigners sing the our national anthem,” unable to realize that “America the Beautiful” is not the national anthem of the United States.
As interesting as the reactions were, we cannot discount them. These are the opinions of Americans across country, and they reflect deep-seated problems. Many Americans seem unaware of their own nation’s rich and continuing history of strength through diversity, and their xenophobic misunderstandings about their fellow citizens are not a reflection of patriotism. They are reflections of ignorance. Despite significant progress concerning social issues in the United States, reactions such as these show there is still a long ways to go.
@CocaCola because of that commercial I’m switching to Pepsi. In America we speak English !!!
@CocaCola You’re done. Pepsi all the way. Go to the Middle East and sell your product.
@CocaCola That commercial PISSED me off. We speak English in this Country! http://t.co/ffPfNrS7Dg
@CocaCola way to encourage the country to get further from our English language! #americaisbeautiful speak English or get out!
@CocaCola I speak English. I understand that is wrong in your eyes. No thanks.
Big mistake Coca-Cola, big mistake #speakamerican
That Carta Guy@1WiseAlien
@CocaCola Whats with the Superbowl commercial? Do you all support Terrorists or what, bad choice in taste. I love America personally.
I am no longer drinking Coke because they used terrorists in their commercials. #TeamPepsi
When did coke get bought out by terrorists?..
YA BOY TUCKER@tuckerdavis72
The commercial with America the Beautiful being sung in so many different languages??? #speakAmerican
You can’t sing an American song in another language! #boycottcoke
No wonder I am a Pepsi man. #boycottcoke
WHAT IS THIS TERRORIST HORSESHIT? #SPEAKAMERICAN