Coca-Cola launched an advertisement during America’s biggest annual sporting spectacle promoting multiculturalism and diversity in the U.S. by playing “America the Beautiful” in several different languages. While English, Spanish, Arabic and other languages sang a line or two, the video footage featured Americans from all walks of life across this great nation.
At the end, the iconic beverage company unveiled the hashtag #AmericaIsBeautiful.
But of course something had to happen and ruin a perfectly sentimental and peaceful moment.
Coke received a barrage of angry tweets and Facebook posts directed toward both the company and the ad, calling it un-American and offensive and insisting that our nation’s official language is English.
Of course, the U.S. does not have an official language, and many of the tweets that Buzzfeed and other online news organizations have compiled are terribly written with no regard to the English language or its rules on spelling and grammar.
And perhaps to combat Coke’s final thought in the ad, hashtags against the commercial formed, including #SpeakAmerican, #boycottcoke, #TeamPepsi, #terrorists and even #f–kcoke, which was originally tweeted completely uncensored.
Am I surprised? No, not at all. I started imagining the digital backlash as soon as I heard languages other than English.
But is this behavior acceptable? No, it is not, but really, what can we do about it?
Just remember that the people who essentially cried, “Screw you, Coke! This is America!” have the same free speech rights as the people at Coca-Cola who created the commercial, as well as those of us who support its message.
And don’t forget, just because something offends you, that does not necessarily make it illegal for others to express.
As someone who believes in and supports the message in this minute-long commercial, I am glad that Coke created this advertisement. I’m sure those responsible for this uplifting message knew what the backlash would be like, but they did it anyway and produced an advertisement worthy of an audience the size of the Super Bowl.
Being American is not about how many generations of your family are rooted in this soil, how well you blend in with the stereotypical culture or even what language you choose to sing “America the Beautiful.”
Being an American is about respecting and taking part in the freedoms, opportunities and experiences we as citizens are fortunate to have every day in our lives.
Despite the comments made toward Coke, the company’s decision to compile a multilingual and far-reaching video portrayal of common ground in American life today shows us a glimpse of what being an American means.
Michael Bragg, a senior journalism and public relations major from Lillington, is the editor-in-chief.