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Carol Anne Costa: Have A Coke and A Big Glass of Intolerance

Thursday, February 06, 2014

 

Super food, Super ads, Super parties, Super Bruno, and Super Bowl; the game...not so much. So many of us watch the Superbowl for the pre game, the ads, halftime show and oh yeah, the gridiron clash. This year was no exception, although the blowout of the Broncos provided a real yawner by the second half. Thank heavens for creative ads and Bruno Mars. It seems the jury is still out on the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but all in all good fun. The unofficial national holiday usually gets people talking about everything but football, unless, of course, the Pats are playing.

The ads this year really tugged at the heartstrings; more sentimental than silly. Our favorite Cheerio girl was back and lobbying with leverage for a puppy. Not all the ads were surprises, as agencies did some previewing through social media, a smart move given the 4 million dollar price tag for Super exposure. I know my FB page blew up in advance of the game, as I met the adorable puppy smitten with a Clydesdale featured in the Bud advertisement. That promotion went viral and yet it still was fun to watch game day on the big screen. And yes, everyone I was with uttered the collective, “awww”. It was John Krasinski's coffee table that set the Twitter ablaze for the Esurance giveaway. I hope he delivers it to me in person, then I can stop waiting for Publishers Clearing House. It was the wisecracking comedian W.C. Fields who warned way back when, “Never work with kids or animals.” He was correct on both counts, and modern day mad men know it to be a tried and true winner. When you combine the value added power of kids, hugs, puppies and ponies with FB, Twitter, and the possibility of winning a big pay and the worlds biggest game. Kaboom, We have lift off! But, it wasn’t all butterflies and rainbows...

Coke Controvery

Then came the Coke Commercial, and did it ever send heads spinning. As I watched and listened to the moving, multilingual rendition of America the Beautiful in real time, I had an instinctive feeling it might not sit well with some folks. But, I held out hope, crossed my fingers, cringed and checked my Twitter feed. Yikes! The immediate feedback reminded me of the craziness that ensued after Nina Duvaluri was crowned Miss America. So much hate in 140 characters. And, the freedoms afforded in our constitution allow people to spread their abominable and distasteful messages, and conversely others including me to soundly reject them.

As a nation we are slowly growing older, browner and more ethnically and religiously diverse and in my view, culturally richer. I say that as a proud, third generation American. According to recent census demographics of the approximately 316,128,839 citizens: 73% are identified as white, 13.1% as African America, 5.1% Asian, .02% Hawaian, 16.9 % Latino and let’s not forget the real natives of this land the Native Americans at a mere 1.2%.

The statistics of change are inevitable, yet the publicly expressed intolerance is posted with unabashed histrionics. Even the GOP in its 2012 election “autopsy”, commsioned by Reince Preibus recognized that words matter and a more diverse GOP will make the party stronger going forward, as stated in a quote from the Growth and Opportunity Report ,”Our standard should not be universal purity; it should be a more welcoming conservatism.” Words to live by and not just for the sake of a vote but for the health of our vibrant country.

A Nation of Immigrants

The reaction to the Coke commercial is yet again America talking past each other and seizing only minutia which is used to bolster a pigeonholed and narrow perspective. Uttered for and by the “This is my country” clans. You know them, “the real Americans”. The myopic opinions touted in the Twittersphere post ad were scary. They exemplify hate speak, finger pointing and so much of what separates us, as well as moving people to take up positions, where, from the start, there simply can be no common ground and seemingly no retreat.

The irony of this whole conversation is we are a nation of immigrants. We are a nation built on the backs of the laborers, the carpenters, the stone masons, the tool makers, the bridge builders, the welders, the metal workers, the artisans, the chefs, the entrepreneurs and on and on and on. We are a country whose sense of exceptionalism grows from founding fathers who envisioned a magnificent quilt woven with the strengths, dreams and passions of the multitudes. Kudos to the advertising team who created a TV spot which is a symphony, as it captures the beauty and strength that is America.

Coke--and Liberty

For me, this country is the best nation that has ever graced the face of the Earth. It is built on a foundation of equality, stubbornness, rebellion, unity, debate, disagreement, forgiveness and grounded in the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...for all. I find it so disturbing when the people who wrap themselves in the flag use every chance they can to drag down difference rather than celebrate what the stars and stripes really represent. The cacophonous rants which ensued after the Coke commercial are troubling, foolish, ignorant and protected. In the words of Voltaire, "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

I too will never step on the right to free speech but, I will use every chance I have to call out those whose blusters spew truly un-american values for what they really are, parochialism. Avere una Coca e un sorriso! Tener una Coca-Cola y una sonrisa! აქვს Coke და ღიმილი! יש קולה וחיוך! Colę i uśmiech! 有可口可乐和微笑! Have a Coke and a smile!

Carol Costa is a public relations and community outreach specialist; she has experience in both the public and private sectors. She is the Chairwoman of the Scituate Democratic Town Committee and has extensive community affairs and public relations experience. She previously served in the Rhode Island Judiciary for nearly 17 years. Carol also enjoyed a successful development stint at the Diocese of Providence as Associate Director for Catholic Education and is currently a public housing manager. Her work has been published in several local outlets including GoLocal, Valley Breeze, The Rhode Island Catholic, and Currents Magazine.

 

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