The below post is a response to my previous article about the “It’s Beautiful” Coca-Cola commercial. Isabel Otero, a high school chum and peer of mine, left a comment on that post. I felt that Isabel’s voice, especially on a matter of which she has personal experience as a Puerto Rican American, deserved to be a post in its own right. Below are her words.
Gracias por compartir tu perspectiva, Rob. Como te prometí, aquí va la mía:
I find this backlash fascinating as well. I think it’s mostly bigotry, but I also think it is a reaction to a loss of perceived power or identity. The white majority of this country does not all react this way, but the loud and hilariously ignorant minority of people, like the Connie Chastains of the internet netherworld, they get the stupid spotlight every time. There were just as many happy tweets and comments about this commercial. It was heart-warming and it represented many of Coca-Cola’s customers – because let’s not forget that this is a company, interested in making money. Coke isn’t going to adhere to the bullshit that e-idiots spew because it’s bad for business, and it alienates large swaths of their customer base.
I read Ms. Chastain’s silly blog post, and I laughed at the comments. What was it, oh right: “foul, filthy, and grotesque advertisement” that was my favorite line. This is what losing your perceived power looks like. This is what losing your perceived culture looks like. It’s as if these silly people have never encountered a person that looks or sounds different from them – and their appearance on a commercial has rocked their very existence. This simple ad somehow points to a larger conspiracy against their majority-ness, which is just bizarre. The last person I knew with a persecution complex went to a mental hospital, and that’s not hyperbole. I know many Southerners, and I have never found any to be so shaken by soda ads. Very entertaining.
Lately, I’ve began to take issue with the descriptor of “melting-pot.” I think this country is more like stew, some things become homogeneous but you can still see various parts. I am a great example of this process. I left Puerto Rico with whatever culture I knew at that time. Culture obviously keeps going on a continuum, so I preserved only that which I could experience. When I return to Puerto Rico, it’s alarmingly clear that I no longer fit in completely because after 1 year in Florida, 11 years in Georgia, and 3.5 in the DC area –I have acquired and added to my cultural arsenal things that don’t only fit my previous identity. Culture doesn’t stop moving, and people don’t stop growing and evolving within it – though a good argument could be made for lack of growth and evolution when looking at the passé lily white view of the past that people like Ms. Chastain and her peers exhibit.
I have proudly added to my cultural background, and I suspect all of the people represented by that commercial feel the same. America has a culture, but depending on the day the hour the geographic location you’ll get a different answer – and that’s the point. If anything, we can claim simple ol’ consumerism as our culture. We come together over the things we collectively like and consume like simple Coca-Cola.
The good thing is that these folks will slowly go away, and will slowly find that the backlash against their hatred is much more powerful than their original complaining. I mean, get a clue folks, not hours after you started complaining did you all become e-puns, buzzfeed fodder, and the bud of jokes for all kinds of people –the blue staters, red staters, southerners and scallywags – we all found you hilarious. It’s hard to be offended by people for which we feel sorry.
The only thing I know for certain is that patriotism comes in many forms, none of which can be seen or experienced on Southern Un-Heritage Blogs, like Ms. Chastain’s.