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by Kevin Coupe

Go figure.

You'd think that a Super Bowl commercial featuring a patriotic song and lots of people of all shapes, sizes, ages, colors and genders bonding over a soft drink would be enough to get people to get all gauzy and sentimental. Or at least thirsty.

But not always. (Unless, of course, you count thirsty for blood.)

For some reason, a Coca-Cola commercial that featured a rendition of "America the Beautiful" sung in seven different languages irritated a lot of people, who thought that it was Coke's way of promoting dreaded multiculturalism, not to mention legitimizing illegal aliens at a time when immigration reform is a hot-button political issue in the US.

Which was weird, because - I swear - when I saw the commercial, the first thing I thought of was that it was enormously aspirational … that even people who don't speak English and who are outside what some folks would think of as the mainstream believe in the beauty of America's vision and ideals. I never felt for a moment like it was anything other than that.

But as I read about the controversy, I discovered that it wasn't just the seven languages that upset people. For some, it was the fact that in one of the clips used in the commercial, there was a gay couple.

Which was weird because when I saw the commercial, I didn't even notice the gay couple. Since then, I've gone back to watch it online, and yep, they're there. But I swear I didn't even notice them until some folks got in high dudgeon about it.

I didn't know this until I saw "The Colbert Report" last night, but apparently the writer of "America the Beautiful," Katherine Lee Bates, lived with another woman, Katharine Coman, for two decades. (Some say it was a lesbian relationship, and others say it was a "Boston marriage," which was a term used for two women living together and not being dependent on men.) Regardless, it seems likely that the writer of "America the Beautiful" might've been tolerant of a gay couple appearing in a Coke TV commercial. (That is, if she even knew what Coke was, since she was born in 1859, Coke wasn't invented until 1886, and she died in 1929. It is, however, a good bet that she had no idea what a "TV commercial" was. Or what a Super Bowl was, for that matter.)

I have no idea if today, a couple of days after the Super Bowl, Coke regrets its advertising decision. I hope not. It seems to me that it was advertising to a multicultural audience that speaks a variety of languages, includes gay people - all of whom it hopes will drink a Coke product.

In the end, that's the bottom line. Marketing to the world the way it is, as opposed to the way some people would like it to be.

Still, it is an Eye-Opener.
KC's View: