Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.

 

e pluribus unum

Buried in a blur of ads in last night’s forgettable Super Bowl was an astounding one-minute spot by Coca Cola that featured the music of “America the Beautiful,” sung in eight languages as the camera panned across rugged rural scenery and gritty urban life in a patriotic paean to America. Even though I knew the ad was meant to increase the sales of an ubiquitous brand of sugared water which is very bad for you, I was captivated. This is not the first time Coke has celebrated diverse peoples: “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (in Perfect Harmony)” transcended mere product marketing and became a huge hit for The Seekers in 1971. It is perhaps a measure of the difference between 1971 and 2014 that last night’s ad, for all its seemingly saccharine patriotism, had a message with an edge: “America is beautiful. And it is getting more beautiful every day,” illustrated by scenes and people from across the country's physical and cultural landscape, asserts that diversity is not an add-on to white America; it is the core of the identity of an ever-changing nation. So naturally, the ad was greeted with outrage on Twitter from those who were offended by foreign-looking children singing “America the Beautiful” in languages that were not English – although it’s worth mentioning that the girl who sang in Spanish is Puerto Rican, not an immigrant, and the girl who sang in Tagalog is Filipino, whose country was an American possession for 48 years.

The End of the Road

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