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Monday, February 3, 2014

Coca-Cola Super Bowl Commercial 2014; Who's Hating Whom?

From the Coca-Cola 2014 Super Bowl Commercial 
During the 2014 Super Bowl, Coca-Cola aired a one-minute ad that features reedy, childlike female voices singing, to barely audible strings, "America the Beautiful" in a variety of languages, including Spanish, Tagalog, and an Asian language. Fleeting images of people of a variety of ethnicities celebrating everyday life accompany the singing. Black people break dance. Native Americans wear feathers on their heads. A Muslim woman in a nocturnal street scene does not sing (many Muslims would consider a woman singing to be a sin); she merely gives the camera her best inscrutable Big Brother stare while glowing blue from surrounding neon.

I watch a lot of movies. This ad struck me as speaking the language of horror films. The lone, reedy, childlike, female voice accompanied only by vague, minor key strings – no other instrumentation – is comparable to many recent horror movie sound tracks. The "this is everyday life and it is nice" feel of the montage has a "calm before the storm" feel to it. Usually at some point in the previews for a horror movie, there is this sort of montage, and then a monster appears. The shot of the Muslim woman's large, hijab-clad, disembodied head, glowing blue, dominating the screen, staring silently and inscrutably, I knew, would unnerve viewers.

No, Muslims are not inherently scary. Yes, a disembodied head glowing blue and staring at the viewer with no accompanying plot is weird.

I immediately knew that the ad would not be embraced.

I wondered what was going on at Coca-Cola corporate headquarters. Who green lighted this ad? How out of touch with the zeitgeist could such a major corporation be?

I googled it and found people all over the web discussing it. I found that interesting.

I tried to talk about it on Facebook. I received backlash. I felt bullied. If I did not like the ad, the implication was that I am probably a racist.

That is going on all over the web, now.

If you don't like the 2014 Coca-Cola Super Bowl ad, you are a racist. An Islamophobe. A bigot. A mouth breather. A white supremacist. An "Ugly American" (James Poniewozik at TIME.)

The hate directed at anyone who didn't like the 2014 Coca-Cola Super Bowl ad is overwhelming and depressing.

And this is why, though I used to identify as "leftist" and "liberal" I no longer do.

I'm so tired of the hate. The hair trigger hate. The cliché hate. The holier than thou hate. The lynch mob hate.

The hypocritical hate.

I have a liberal friend who loved the ad. He says that anyone who didn't like the ad is a "typical American racist."

My friend thinks that all Americans except him and his group of liberal friends are evil racists.

I've known this guy for years. I've been to his house.

I have never, ever, ever, ever, not once, seen him in the presence of a black person.

Really. Never.

In NJ that's an extraordinary thing. NJ is a wildly diverse state. There are lots of black people here.

So, my friend whom I have never seen in the presence of a black person is convinced that anyone who didn't like the 2014 Coca-Cola Super Bowl ad is a "typical" American white supremacist.

How about others who insist that anyone who didn't like the ad is a racist? Or is an enemy of multiculturalism?

Do YOU have any black friends? Any friends whose family members have ever been in jail? Any friends who live in government subsidized housing? Any friends who don't speak Standard English, but, rather, Black English or Ebonics?


Really, I'm asking. Do you?

Okay. So now that we've established that you have never, in your life, had a member of the large, African American underclass anywhere on your property, do you again want to call others racist?

Or, how about this. Do you have any friends who disagree with you politically or are different than you economically? Do you have a single friend who believes in miracles, who voted Romney, who had to forgo major medical care for lack of insurance? Do you have any friends who clean houses for a living, and who grew up speaking a language other than English? Who grew up in multilingual households?

Has your fate ever hinged on how a member of a group very different from your own handled your job application, your insurance claim, or your surgery? Have you ever become impatient with a customer service representative who did not speak English well?

Uh huh. I see. Your friends, your bosses, your doctors, your next door neighbors, are all like you demographically – white collar, fully insured, speaking Standard English, liberals. Thanks for that information.

So what's really going on here?

The creepy, horrible thing that's really going on here is that people are using a freaking Coca-Cola ad to decide who is worthy and who is evil. This is some weird 2014 version of a witch trial. If you don't like the ad, you are evil. If you like the ad, no matter how much of a politically correct, safe, suburban, white-collar cocoon you have lived in your entire life, you are champion of the masses if you like a freaking Coca-Cola ad.

Why don't people like the ad if they are not evil white supremacists, "typical" Ugly Americans?

They don't like it because "America the Beautiful" is sung in a variety of languages. They don't like that because it is, to them, a sign of Balkanization. In the past, the concept of "e pluribus unum" reigned in America. "Out of many, one." We all put aside our differences – our different languages and religions and economic statuses – and united under a unifying identity – American – and language – English.

None of my grandparents spoke English. My parents spoke English as a second language. They learned English well enough to speak it beautifully and powerfully, while retaining their own natal languages. Inside our house, we could speak Polish and Slovak. Outside our house, we could speak the very best Standard English. That used to be the ideal. It was a good ideal. It united Americans. I could play with my next-door-neighbor, who happened to be African American.

Multiculturalism has weakened "E pluribus unum." Liberals pit members of one group against members of another group: women against men, blacks against whites, "Anglos" against Hispanics, Muslims against non-Muslims.

No, liberals did not invent the very real causes of conflict between these groups. Liberals just exacerbated and exploited those differences.

That's why people are objecting to the Coke ad. NOT because they don't want to be close to multicultural neighbors. Because they do want to be close to multicultural neighbors, and liberals keep pushing us apart, fracturing our country, splintering the ties that used to bind.

And now liberals are jumping down our throats and calling us racist sexist homophobic islamophobic white supremacist witch witch witch witch burn them!

Golly, I wish you liberals would just stop with the hate.

You can watch the ad here.


  1. I can see where you are coming from, except for, "Multiculturalism has weakened "E pluribus unum." Liberals pit members of one group against members of another group: women against men, blacks against whites, "Anglos" against Hispanics, Muslims against non-Muslims."

    It's not multiculturalism that weakens, it is the people of the cultures involved that weaken. And that is just part of human nature. When you get as large of group together from diverse backgrounds as the USA, conflict is bound to ensue, but that is part of the process.

    In business, they have a term for when new teams or groups are formed for projects, or as a new department, to describe the growth of the team. Forming, storming, norming, performing. Well, this not only applies to small groups of people, it also applies to a grand scale, such as a society. But just as the size of the group is scaled, so too will be the time it takes to get through each phase of growth. Right now, we could easily say USA is in a storming phase when it comes to intertwining cultures. Eventually, things will calm down, and it will become the norm, and the norming phase will begin. That may be just a few years from now (doubtful), or it could be decades from now. But being this is just human nature, I don't think anything can be "blamed" for it. It is just part of the process.

    1. John A I really like "forming, storming, norming and performing." I love mnemonic phrases like that. I will remember i learned it from you! Thank you!

  2. Forgive me, but I was laughing five seconds into the ad. 

    Such kitsch! 

    1. I've been trying to explain on facebook why the ad didn't work for so many.

      This phrase hit me -- the Muslim woman in the ad is so denatured, to be rendered un scary, that she ends up being a Stepford Muslim.

      Not sure how many people will remember Stepford wives.

  3. She looks like that neon pink hijab " Black Widow " photo that hit the Drudge Report headlines 1/22 . Very poor image selection and timing given the terrorism surrounding the Sochi Olympics.

    1. merchvent I googled the picture you mention and found it on a screen capture and I see what you mean.