It was February 2014 and about 111.5 million Americans were watching Super Bowl XLVIII, but it wasn’t the Seahawks immense victory over the Broncos that everyone was talking about, it was the ad by Coca-Cola that was aired. The ad featured the song “America the Beautiful” sung in a variety of languages. As seen here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=443Vy3I0gJs, many people turned to social media to rant and express their concerns over Coca-Cola by using very racist tweets and comments.
After first seeing the ad, it seemed like a nice way of symbolizing that America is a mixture of many cultures and the acceptance of many people. I believe that this symbol of unity is the message Coca-Cola was trying to convey, adding in that Coca-Cola is an American drink, but also consumed by other cultures around the world. My first reaction was that it was a nice commercial and I did not expect it to anger so many Americans. People called Coca-Cola a communist and even a terrorist with one person tweeting “F@#k outa here you communist liquid” as if the soft drink itself made the commercial. Some of these tweets are so foolish that it’s hard to tell if they are being serious or are simply making a joke. When analyzing the controversy, there are a couple of things that made people mad about the commercial.
The first reason is the obvious one: “America the Beautiful” had parts sung in Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, and Tagalog. This makes a lot of people furious because this is America and we speak English. The social media backlash makes America look terribly racist and unaccepting of other races and languages with people tweeting things like: “The commercial with America the Beautiful being sung in so many different languages??? #speakAmerican.” The common hashtag used for tweets against the ad is #speakAmerican, and I couldn’t help but laugh at how ill-informed the comments were using this hashtag. American, contrary to what the unintelligent fools on twitter think, is not a language. Currently, the ‘speakAmerican’ hashtag is used more as a joke to parody those who were the first to use it. It’s clear that many Americans are very passionate about using only English to speak or sing anything in or about America. The United States of America was founded on the English language, which is why people are so passionate about making sure everyone is speaking the “right” language. The problem with this is that America has no official language and people are free to speak whatever language they want, which is one of the reasons America is so great.
Another popular tweet was associating Coca-Cola with terrorists, like this example from a twitter user: “ I am no longer drinking Coke because they used terrorists in their commercials. #TeamPepsi.” This, and many more examples like this, is extremely racist, implying that everyone who speaks Arabic is a terrorist. After 9/11 Americans adopted very racial thoughts of Middle Eastern people. Racism towards Middle Eastern people is not only unkind but extremely unfair and can cause serious problems. It seems that America is prejudice against the Middle Eastern oriented people which can lead to them being disadvantaged. With another tweeting “@Coca-Cola Whats with the Superbowl commercial? Do you all support Terrorists or what, bad choice in taste. I love America personally.” It’s truly unfortunate that someone would so ignorantly tweet something like this with only using racial stereotypes based on an entire language.
The hateful comments were not only about the different languages featured in the commercial but also about the appearance of the people in the commercial. The commercial featured many different races including whites, blacks, Hispanic, Asian, and middle eastern. The most xenophobe was drawn from the woman that appears about 37 seconds into the commercial wearing a shaylah (head scarf). When racist people see somebody that doesn’t look like them or their own race they tend to have very biased and negative thoughts towards that individual. This can relate to Monroe’s book crossing the digital divide In chapter 2 that talks about the emails sent between the college students and the high school students. In Monroe’s examples of the study she found racial differences. Crossing the digital divide can directly relate to the Coca-Cola commercial.
While so many people were ranting about the different races and languages in the commercial few mentioned to draw reference to the gay couple that made an appearance in the commercial. One man tweeted “Coke loses my respect for putting a gay couple in the video. I couldn’t give a f@#k about the Spanish song”. Discrimination against gays is much like that of race or gender and the commercial was trying to capture how America is beautiful because we are accepting of so many different kinds of people, although this is a false assumption seeing how the people of the America responded to the advertisement.
Despite all of the hateful tweets and social media backlash, there are still a large number of people who found nothing wrong with the commercial and even liked it. A quick view at the YouTube comments and you’ll find that a lot of people are disgusted at the racism that others are using. For example this user wrote “we are a culture of many cultures united. If you have a problem with the ad you must be very petty”. This particular comment got 32 likes which means others agree with them.
All in all, the commercial featuring the song America the beautiful sung by many languages caused racist and hateful reaction. The reactions showed us that America is not truly accepting of all people and race, but rather still has many prejudices and discrimination. We looked at different races
“BuzzFeed.” BuzzFeed. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2014.
“Official Coca-Cola “Big Game” Commercial 2014 – America Is Beautiful.” YouTube. YouTube, 02 Feb. 2014. Web. 01 Mar. 2014.
Monroe, Barbara Jean. Crossing the Digital Divide: Race, Writing, and Technology in the Classroom. New York: Teachers College, 2004. Print.