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Editorial: Backlash against Coke 'America the Beautiful' ad fueled by ignorance

By Editorial Board
On February 6, 2014

In addition to football and the halftime show, commercials have also become a big part of the Super Bowl. This most recent Sunday led to a good amount of backlash against Coca-Cola for their controversial commercial, which featured the song "America the Beautiful" sung in eight different languages while showing people of different cultures and ethnicities go about their lives. The commercial was also the first ad to air during the Super Bowl featuring a gay couple, but it was the multilingual rendition of one of America's most patriotic songs that led to the majority of the backlash against Coca-Cola.
Many people took to Facebook and Twitter criticizing the company for the ad, calling it unpatriotic and declaring to never purchase Coke again. Most of the angry responses expressed, more or less, the same basic idea: "This is America and in America we speak English." It is possible some of the responses were satirical in nature, but there was still an overwhelming resentment over the fact that a brand as American as Coke would soil such an American song by singing it in anything but English.
It is true that English, though not the official language of the United States, is the most widely used language in this country. It is true that we use English to conduct business and that the very publication you are reading, as well as hundreds of others are written in English. However, this does not mean speaking English should be equated with being American.
America is often described as a melting pot, where immigrants from all over the world come to make a better life for themselves. Many of these immigrants do learn English as part of the assimilation process for the reasons stated above, but that does not mean that everything about their cultural identity should suddenly be erased and forgotten. There are many households that speak two languages and also hold on to their own unique cultural traditions. Many of these households were also, ironically, participating in one of the most quintessential and unofficial American holidays: watching the Super Bowl. This is what Coca-Cola was celebrating; that we all come from different walks of life and have different cultural backgrounds, but still have unity as Americans. And that is a beautiful thing. 


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