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Columns

February 9, 2014

Americans not so beautiful sometimes

If there was ever any wonder where the phrase “ugly Americans” emanated from, the song “America the Beautiful” brought the answer last Sunday night.

While more than 100 million viewers watched the Super Bowl, a relatively innocuous commercial from Coca-Cola sparked a mini uprising.

I saw the commercial as it occurred and didn’t give it a second thought. Cute. Not funny. No one was hit in the groin. Now get me back to the football game.

When I heard the next day that some $4 million commercial had offended a boisterous segment of our population, I stretched my mind to think which one it could possibly be.

John Stamos taking off his pants? Bob Dylan selling out? GoDaddy.com superimposed Danica Patrick’s head onto the torso of a bodybuilder. That was disturbing. Oh, I know. It was Budweiser supporting interspecies love between a puppy and a Clydesdale.

Of course, I was wrong. What earned the ire of certain Americans was Coke’s minute-long version of “America the Beautiful,” which was sung in eight languages while a hodge-podge of people of different races, colors and creeds — even a brief glimpse of a gay family — crossed the screen.

Somehow, some people took instant and vociferous offense to the ad because the song celebrating America’s beauty was sung in foreign tongues.

Twitter exploded, almost literally, and Coca-Cola’s Facebook page became a war zone.

Using the hashtags #americaisbeautiful or #speakamerican or #cokesucks or #(er, have family relations with Coke), they expressed outrage. Boycotts were threatened. Expletives were thrown about.

“This is America … speak English idiots!” ““Take this Coke and stick it up your $%&!!” “Way to ruin an American song.”

The people of Coca-Cola were called terrorists or communists, or worse, communist terrorists.

And, yes, some blamed President Obama.

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