By Sukirti Dwivedi:
American soft drink giant Coca Cola has sparked a fresh row of controversy with its entry for the Super Bowl ad campaign that features the song “America, the Beautiful” in seven different languages. The ad shows various images of America’s landscape and diverse immigrant communities of the US, in various attires ranging from cowboy hats to hijabs, engrossed in day to day activities of American lifestyle – brothers enjoying a movie; friends dancing; families dining out and roller-skating; siblings camping and many others. In the background plays the patriotic song “America the Beautiful” which has been sung in English, Spanish, Hindi, Keres, Tagalong, Senegalese French and Hebrew.
The commercial was met with xenophobic reactions and immediate backlash from the internet community. “WTF?” asked one post on Twitter. “@Coca Cola has America the Beautiful being sung in different languages in a #SuperBowl commercial? We speak ENGLISH here, IDIOTS.” “Some terrorists were singing our song in that Coke commercial” read another.
It is demoralizing to see that a wonderful initiative taken by a global brand that should have been welcomed with open hearts is being treated in such a manner. It is an ad that beautifully captures cultural inclusivity and should not be seen from a divisive perspective. It speaks about how America does not have a rigid singular identity but is an enriching expanse with a magnificent blend of varied selves. Nearly 60 million people in the US speak a language other than English and the fact that the nation has no official language itself goes to prove how baseless are the arguments being posed by racists.
Not just in terms of ethnicities but in terms of diverse sexualities too the ad is a welcome unprecedented change. The ad features a gay couple hugging their daughter (it is being said that it is the first time that gay parents have been depicted in a SuperBowl ad). This has not only been able to bring out the issue of the LGBT community as being an integral component of the society but has also encouraged a sense of worldwide acceptance towards them.
In the past also similar issues have cropped up such as the racist outburst against Miss America, Nina Davuluri and the GAP ad featuring a Sikh man. Having a black President alone does not give America the right to make tall claims about having egalitarian ethics. US citizens need to do away with their obsession with racial superiority and come up with a much more tolerant attitude towards immigrants.
Initiatives like the Coca Cola commercial should be appreciated for their harmonious intent instead of being maligned with a narrow minded approach. As Time magazine’s journalist James Poniewozik rightly mentioned in an article about the ad, “America isn’t weakened because people don’t submit to a monoculture; it’s strong because it can absorb the people, aspirations and talents of the rest of the world without erasing their cultures.”