Coca Cola’s Super Bowl ad has caused quite an uproar on Twitter and Facebook. It seems a lot of people think the song “America the Beautiful” should be sung in English. And English only. They are angry and offended and say so in no uncertain terms.
I was first made aware of the controversy on Pandionna’s blog, but within half an hour I saw a report about it on CNN. And of course when I checked the Internet, I found many stories about it.
I confess the ad got my attention because of the foreign languages. I wasn’t paying much attention to just another pretty, patriotic ad until the foreign languages kicked in. That they made me stop and think was probably intended, and to that extent, it worked. I probably wouldn’t have paid much attention otherwise. However, I was not one of those who immediately thought or wrote or texted, “It should be sung in English. They should learn English.”
Instead, my own prejudices kicked in. “God shed his grace on thee.” I couldn’t help wondering at that instant, “Aren’t there any patriotic songs that don’t mention religion? Do we have to have religion in everything?” And I wished they’d picked a different song to accompany the beautiful images.
And then, instead of thinking all those immigrants should learn English, I found myself wondering how many of them were in the country legally. No, that certainly wasn’t the ad’s intent. But immigration reform was brought up again recently in Obama’s State of the Union address and it’s a political hot potato. I’ve got some strong feelings on the subject, detailed in other posts (basically, no one should enter or stay in this country illegally).
As for whether the song in the ad should have been sung in English, I’d say, “not necessarily.” If Coke intended those people to be aspiring or newly arrived immigrants, fine. It’s logical that they’d be singing in their first language. But like those who took exception to the ad, I think all immigrants in the US should learn English. If those in the ad are meant to be foreign-born Americans who’ve been here awhile, they should be proudly singing in English.
It’s not Coke’s style to deliberately provoke controversy. Harmony has always been their shtick. But if important issues have been raised, if important issues are being thought about and talked about … maybe that’s not such a bad thing.