Negative reaction to Coca-Cola is nonsense


People care vehemently about their soft drink choice. When Coca- Cola’s “America the Beautiful” commercial ran during the national hysteria that is the Super Bowl, a red tide of bigots flooded social media. The ad, called “It’s Beautiful,” did such an apparently daring and controversial thing: It featured “America the Beautiful” sung in a variety of different languages. Uh-oh. Release the flood gates of sewage sludge.
There are thousands upon thousands of tweets you could read, but here’s one from user @ allison_cruts31 (who later took the tweet down) that sums it up: “It’s God Bless America not Mexico so sing in English.” Many websites have aggregated the hate, so just do a Google search for reactions to the ad to see more of this.
Never mind that we have no national language, never mind that the country has always been a melting pot of culture and never mind that the natives we took this land from certainly didn’t speak English.
Glenn Beck, a clown who is somehow still a fixture in national dialogue, said of the ad, “Why did you need that to divide us politically? Because that’s all this ad is. It’s in your face, and if you don’t like it, if you’re offended by it, you’re a racist. If you do like it, you’re for immigration. You’re for progress. That’s all this is: to divide people.”
Many of the social media warriors vowed to boycott Coke. Let’s recap: During a meaningless sporting event dripping with consumerism (which, for some reason, Americans treat like gospel) in a country with an obesity epidemic, a bunch of bigots vowed to boycott a soft drink company because it dared to showcase America’s cultural diversity.
Wow. Talk about America in a nutshell. It sounds like the punch line to a joke.
You know what, though? They should go ahead and boycott Coke. Just don’t go to Pepsi. Here’s an alternative idea: Fill a reusable cup up with some water and drink that all day instead. Coincidentally, it was apparently a huge deal at the beginning of this semester when the Pepsi machines were replaced by Coke machine. This stuff actually matters to people.
Social media brings out the worst of people and highlights the bad eggs. Phyllis Wise, chancellor of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, came under attack on Twitter after a decision not to cancel class on a particularly cold day. Tweets quickly started targeting her status as an Asian-American and as a woman. And similarly, looking at many of the Tweets in response to the Coke commercial highlights the negative reactions. There were plenty of positive responses to the Coke commercial, and those should be appreciated for understanding the positive message of the commercial. In fact, we should make it our goal to drown out the negative responses with positive ones.
If you really want to use the power of the wallet and protest with your dollar because a soft drink company celebrated diversity, great. Good for standing up for something, as misled as you are. That’s your right to free speech. But progress (and not Beck’s version of it) and acceptance is not on your side, and any criticism you receive is wholly deserved.
Andrew is a senior majoring in journalism. He goes to far too many concerts, suffers from severe wanderlust and takes pictures of things sometimes.