Post on Racism and Ethnocentrism in Modern Media
A recent television advertisement for Coca-Cola aired for the first time during the Super Bowl. It was intended to be a recognition of multiculturalism and to tie in the product to one of the quintessential American values: namely, the melting-pot element of American society that enabled all of our ancestors to immigrate and begin new lives in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries. Instead, the commercial inspired a nasty reaction from the so-called “conservatives” of the radial and extreme Right Wing of American politics and punditry. The ad was very simple in concept but important in its message: it featured individuals from many races, cultures, ethnicities (and even one gay couple) all singing along to the song America the Beautiful. In the 21st century, one would think (and hope) that such a commercial would be well received and appreciated for its message and the way that it reflects the notions of equality, opportunity, and mutual respect and consideration for all races, creeds, nationalities of origin, religion, culture, and lifestyles.
The argument advanced by critics of the ad seems to have learned absolutely nothing from the history lessons of America’s relatively recent past. Specifically, throughout the late 19th century and well into the 20th century, American shopkeepers and rooming houses routinely posted signs saying “No Irish Need Apply” or “Jews Get Out of this Country” or “Speak English in America!” Or “Italians Not Welcome Here” or “No Service to Negros.” During World War II, we rounded up and imprisoned Japanese for nothing more than their national origin; and we learned after the war how dangerous such attitudes of prejudice and ethnocentrism can be when we discovered the evidence of the Nazi’s attempts to systematically exterminate an entire race of people for those reasons.
Instead of recognizing the value of the ad and its positive societal message of inclusion and equality, commentators on Fox News stations made remarks condemning the message of the ad and renewing arguments that immigrants should all learn English and the hashtag “Boycott Coca-Cola” trended on Twitter immediately afterwards. Always on the wrong side of every issue of social issues and spouting nonsensical rhetoric as usual, Florida Republican Alan West chimed in arguing that this nation was on the road to “perdition” if Americans are not proud enough of being American to sing America the Beautiful in English.
Ironically, West is African-American himself; and if this nation had not eventually come to adopt a more open-minded perspective than the one he advances today, he could never have become a member of Congress and his ancestors would have remained slaves much longer than they did. Since then, the public reaction has been very much in support of Coca-Cola and the message, suggesting that West and his followers are, thankfully, now only a minority in this country, and strictly because of their opinions and viewpoints rather than because of their heritage.
Day, P.K. (2014). Coca-Cola Super Bowl ad stirs controversy. Los Angeles Times (February 3, 2014). Retrieved online:
Every year, there’s always one Super Bowl ad that generates a bit of next-day controversy. And this year’s ad appears to be Coca-Cola’s “It’s Beautiful” ad.
The one-minute ad features children and adults from all walks of life, from across the country, singing “America the Beautiful” in multiple languages. Seems fairly straight-forward, right? Not like the infamous Bar Refaeli Go Daddy ad from last year that featured the Israeli
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