Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Coke Superbowl ad and the specter of America's future

I no longer follow football because when I watch a game I no longer see a noble game played by superb athletes, but rather I see poor deluded fools in the process of inflicting brain damage on each other and consigning themselves to to the possibility of decades of emotional and mental illnesses. So, I didn't watch the Super Bowl. 

But apparently, the most interesting thing about this particular Super Bowl was a one minute ad for Coke. I watched the ad on YouTube and thought it was quite lovely. It was many Americans of different cultures signing "America the Beautiful" - some in english with an accent, some in their native language.  

But I guess some on the extreme right wing of the political spectrum were offended. Dean Obeidallah of The Daily Beast quotes a few of their reactions.  

"This tweet summed up the sentiments of many on the right: "Fuck that bullshit.  This is America speak fucking English #ThanksObama#fuckcoke"  Others labeled Coke as communists while others claimed that a woman in a hijab was featured in the commercial (who actually is a friend of mine), that Coke was supporting terrorism."

An especially choice quote is from Fox News:

"And there was Todd Starnes - host of a Fox News radio show - who tweeted, "Coca Cola is the official soft drink of illegals crossing the border.#amiricais beuatiful."

This is obvious wingnut bigotry, but what is the anger, and what is the fear under the anger?

I have written before that the hard core right wing is lost in a fantasy of hyper-masculine self image, one that is white, of course, and one that ties into an imagined past of a Real America of noble, brave, independent, self sufficient, Real Men, men who need no help from anyone, men who Made This Country Great, men who are very, very, very Strong.

But, woe is they.  They are shrinking.  They are losing America.  They are just one of many cultures in what really is a wonderful country - America.  A country where the Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin, created the Great Seal of the United States in 1782 and gave it the official motto of the United States - "E Pluribus Unum" - from many, one.

The country is continuing on its destiny of welcoming all cultures from every part of the world and joining us in our great experiment of democracy.  Only in America can you become an American by becoming a citizen.  Germans, Frenchmen, Dutch, etc. are only so if they are born there and speak their languages.  Americans, like my grandparents on my father's side, came from Italy, or Germany, or Portugal, or wherever, and became American by choice.  And, oh yes, my grandmother spoke some Italian, but she was most definitely an American.  And if she wanted to sing an Italian version of America the Beautiful, well that would have been fine, who on earth cared?

The point I am trying to make was summed up nicely by Mr Obeidallah"

"I get why these people are mad.  In essence, the Coke commercial was the Ghost of Christmas Future providing them with a glimpse of an America that features even more people speaking languages other than English, practicing other faiths than their own and celebrating cutures they don't understand.  That scares the crap out of them.

 You know, just like their forefathers and foremothers scared the crap out of the Americans who were here before they came, from Germany, Scotland, Ireland, Holland, Portugal, Italy, France ...