Skip to main content

See also:

America the ugly

Flags of competing countries in the winter Olympics 2014
Flags of competing countries in the winter Olympics 2014
Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Coca Cola released the most talked about commercial of the Super Bowl this year. Intending to show the diversity that makes America great, the ad itself was beautiful. The reaction was ugly, real ugly.

Oddly enough, a lot of the right wing pundits started accusing Coke of trying to divide the country with such a blatantly offensive ad, all the while their followers waited patiently to be told why they should be offended. Coke's message of inclusiveness and diversity was instantly being reconstructed and repurposed by the right.

“I said, ‘Why? You need that to divide us politically?’ Because that’s all this ad is,” said Glen Beck. “It’s an in your face and if you don’t like, if you’re offended by it, then you’re a racist. If you do like it, well then you’re for immigration, that’s what it is. You’re for progress. That’s all this is, is to divide people. Remember when Coke used to do the thing on the top, and they would all hold hands? Now it's have a coke and we'll divide you."

Ironically, there is plenty of friendly socializing and hand holding in the new spot. Granted, that togetherness is being shown in non-white people, sometimes obviously gay couples, but it's still there. Is showing minorities in happy situations somehow offensive? Was there too much gay? Was it too iconic of a song to soil with foreign languages and gayness?

Here's another bit of irony for you. America the Beautiful was written by Katharine Lee Bates in 1893 and published in 'The Congregationalist' for Independence Day, 1895. While Bates was a life-long Republican, she did split with the party later in life, in 1924, due to their rising xenophobia in opposition to the League of Nations. She was also most likely a lesbian, though her relationship with Katharine Coman was referred to as a "Boston Marriage" at the time.