Ever since the outrage erupted over Coca-Cola's multilingual Super Bowl ad, I've been waiting to hear what kind of apology the company would issue.
For those who've just awoken from a coma, the commercial was called "It's Beautiful" and featured seven multiracial—though wholly American—young girls singing "America the Beautiful" in seven different languages.
But it was on Twitter where people really lost their minds—such as when @bwroberts76 tweatened (that's "threatened" in a tweet) to boycott Coke after that "heinous un-American commercial" and when @tylerwyckoff24 twhined that the song was sung in the "terrorist's language" and when @turndaddy79 twellyached, "... it's America and the language is English... not all this foreign shit."
Talk about rampant, mindless xenophobia—as if all their dictionaries are special Jingoist Editions that define "foreigner" as a "dangerous militant who wants to destroy America," accompanied by a photo of a Osama bin Laden.
Well, given that the Coca-Cola Company is a massive corporation that leads its industry—and given that massive corporations that lead their industries live in perpetual fear of not being massive and not leading their industry—I was certain Coke would apologize and run a follow-up ad that shows a rifle-toting cowboy sitting on the trunk of his Silverado at San Ysidro picking off border crossers while a chorus of little white girls sings, "O beautiful for spacious skies / Your amber waves of grain / Are harvested by Mexicans / Who also can be maids / America, America / God checks on your green cards / And crown thy good / White brotherhood / From yard to well-trimmed yard."
Well, I'm ever so happy to report that not only did Coke not backpedal—it pushed back! First, the company issued a press release defending "It's Beautiful" and then released a behind-the-scenes video showing the innocent little girls singing their parts (hope you ultra-national assholes feel bad about picking on little girls), and then it updated the ad itself. It is pretty much the same commercial, except with an additional 10 seconds, during which "E pluribus unum—out of many, one" rolls across the screen, as if to say, "In your face, xenophobe!"
If you were to ask the people who went berserk over "It's Beautiful" why it is that people like me didn't go berserk, the majority of them will tell you it's because people like me are borderline traitors who hate America. In fact, if you look up "treason" in the Jingoist Edition, there will be a picture of a family of five, smiling and singing along as they watch the commercial.
Of course, anybody who didn't just wake up from a coma that they fell into when they were 6 years old knows that we absolutely do care about America—the difference is, we don't care too much about it. We don't obsess. We aren't excessively patriotic and don't overdo our national pride because we know—given that our eyes and our minds are open and working—that America has its faults.
We know our pride should be tempered with humility because it wasn't us who built America; we inherited it. Just like the children of the tremendously wealthy, we were born into it, which is pure dumb luck.
We know it's righteous to love America and our fellow Americans, but we also know we're citizens of the world, which has other people in it—people whose cultures and languages are sublime and worthy of homage.
We know that it's not a big fucking deal to press 1 for English, and we only wish there were an option to press 2 for hysterical overreactions to having to press 1 for English.
We know it doesn't matter if Michael Patrick Leahy says that you can't "push multiculturalism down our throats," because it's already there, deep down our gullets—at our core. America is multiculturalism. Saying Coke is trying to push multiculturalism down our throats is like saying somebody is trying to force an asshole down Michael Leahy's throat.
And, yes, People Who Go Berserk Over American Songs Being Sung in Foreignnish, we know that it's important for immigrants to learn English. However, that doesn't mean they should ditch their native languages. Rather, they should feel free to celebrate their heritage, and we should celebrate with them.
Lastly, we know that English isn't some sort of wussy language. English doesn't feel threatened every time it encounters another language. It doesn't get all butt-hurt if the other language wants to sing a song that's usually sung in English. English welcomes other languages; it invites them over for dinner. For crissake, English is other languages. It's a Frankenstein tongue—pieced together from dialects around the world, just like America is a Frankenstein society, stitched together from the cultures of the world.
Alas, some people are afraid of Frankenstein. He doesn't look and talk like everyone else. So they come after him with pitchforks. Don't worry, though; diversity will always prevail. Sing it with me, friends: Oh Frankenstein the beautiful, God shed His grace on thee...
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Edwin Decker blogs at www.edwindecker.com. Follow him on Twitter @edwindecker or find him on Facebook.
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