‘America the Beautiful’ and Cheerios ads draw post Super Bowl outrage

Print More


I was wrong. The Cheerios ad, when it finally aired Sunday night while the Seahawks mauled the Broncos, registered a peep on the public-outrage scale.

The full howl is directed at the multi-lingual, multi-racial, multi-ethnic Coke ad rendition of “America the Beautiful.”

But the play through on social media is very similar.

Once more, some careless folks attached political party or political ideological labels to those who blasted the ad. See my original post, below, for the dangers of labeling.

Lucky for us all, the language of “America the Beautiful” speaks in its own defense. Here are the first two verses, bold emphasis mine:

Oh beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!article-2550937-1B29B32C00000578-321_634x368

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!


Who doesn’t love the new Cheerios ad?

This time, Gracie, the tot in the biracial family, is once more flummoxing her black dad while her white mom looks on with a smile (and no one eats a single Cheerio!)

But love is not what Twitter coverage of the ad has stirred up.

Instead, it’s politics. And the heavy in the social media dust up is no less than proudly liberal MSNBC.

First, it posted a whack at the “rightwing” and blamed backlash to the original ad as “conservative.”

But then it was “updated.” So now, it says this:

The breakfast cereal’s new Super Bowl ad features the same fictional biracial family that sparked a backlash last year…

Editor’s note: This story was updated to remove erroneous language.

As Thomas McDonald’s “God and the Machine blog” observed, political conservatives “promptly turned MSNBC’s kneejerk idiocy to their advantage with the hashtag #MyRightWingBiracialFamily” and flooded social media with photos of mixed-race GOP-leaning families.”

Today, the social media manager who posted the original tweet has been bounced.

That’s the problem with labels. Words such as “Conservative,” “Liberal,” “Ultra-orthodox,” and “Fundamentalist” have all been torn from their original anchors in meaning. Once they signified a coherent political viewpoint or a specific understanding of religious doctrine. Now, those words are thrown about as epithets.

To call a Christian a Fundamentalist today — even a person who believes in the five religious fundamentals that gave the term life — requires a note from your editor to justify use of the new F-word. Orthodox Jews who follow every letter of Torah law will still object to being called Ultra-Orthodox because it has political, cultural or social connotations.

Far from any ideological or theological front, why should anyone be branded, politically or in any other way, for their cereal choice?

Sunday, families in every form will watch the Super Bowl together — mixed faith families , same-sex families, politically-mis-matched families, households mixing Broncos and Seahawks fans,  and, yes, multi-racial ones too.

Pass the Cheerios, official snack of folks beyond labels.

  • It’s always good to think about how we use labels. As someone who has, for all of my adult life, been a theological liberal, I’m surprised at how many of “my kind of Christians” now disclaim the label. They seem to prefer “progressive,” which I understand has a specific, historic political meaning, but I don’t really understand what it means when applied to theology. I’m convinced it’s just a more palatable way of saying “liberal,” which I guess has never polled very well.

    On the other end of the spectrum, I actually like using “fundamentalist.” I try not to use it as an epithet. It is a perfectly fine word that has a historic and religious meaning that I think objectively still applies to a large swath of people who prefer to call themselves evangelicals.

    My problem is that “evangelical” is too broad. I have found there is often a big difference between the most conservative evangelicals (Southern Baptists and other literal-Bible fundamentalists) and moderate/center-right evangelicals of the Calvin/Wheaton/Fuller variety. But you’re right about “the F-word.” And I have, indeed, sought (and received) editors’ permission to use it.

    A lot of Mainline Protestants would be surprised if you suggested they are not evangelical. And a lot of fundamentalists want to be called evangelicals because of connotations. I find that the term is practically useless without other adjectives and context.

    Always enjoy your posts and discussions.

  • Daniel Berry, NYC

    evidently you’re quite a bit younger than I am or you would remember a time when “liberal” was not negatively stigmatized in the mainstream in anything like the way it is now. But it didn’t start to become the “dirty word” it became in the mouths of the likes of Limbaugh and the swine at Fox. The backlash represented by the so-called Reagan revolution preyed on the disappointment created by Vietnam, a disaster largely thought of as an enterprise of Lyndon Johnson’s even though Eisenhower initiated our involvement in Southeast Asia. Prior to the 80s, “liberal” was a broadly acceptable perspective, much as communism was an acceptable theme in American political discourse until the generative years of the Cold War, during which Russia had to be converted from an ally to a bad guy.

  • Growing up evangelical fundamentalist, all sorts of words were used as slurs, especially when pastors used them from the pulpit or on the radio (no tv) or Rush Limbaugh uttered them: feminist, liberal, woman, Hollywood, Public schools…

    I may have used evangelical, fundamentalist or fundagelical (not a word I coined) in a negative light in the past, but that is why I have an entire blog dedicated to creating more nuance around my old self, and people I love. I don’t have an editor or ad content… deliberately. I need to be able to say those words as descriptors about the religious right.

    However, I do often cringe when people who have never lived that side of America use the words of everything ranging from Christian to fundamentalist as slurs. I cringe when the hate/fear toward the religious right is louder than the message and even inaccurate (often words like “stupid” or “moron” or “i hate” are used in close proximity). I also cringe when words toward the right come across as slurs because we were brought up to look for ways we were being persecuted.

    The religious right is hyper-senstive about perceived persecution because it is built into the culture of the End Times obsession that permiates so many of those who are being jerked around by politicians and pastors far more powerful than themselves. So it angers me when the people who control the religious right and political conservative media go out of their way to let the masses know that they are being persecuted by liberals… it’s all part of “preparing” people to live in constant expectation of the End Times.

  • Nate

    Cathy: Can you please cite some of the actual outrage over the coke ad? Especially if it comes from any “official” spokespersons for denominations or organizations?

  • Jon


    You could do a google search.

    Conservative sources are quite clear that the outrage is by conservatives – as if anyone actually needed to read that, based on what they are saying.
    here’s one for starters:

  • Larry

    With the Coke Ad, their objections are mind-numbingly stupid.

    They are annoyed of a portrayal of America as being multi-ethnic/multifaith and claiming the song America the Beautiful as a “deeply Christian patriotic anthem”.
    The religious right is trying to appropriate the song for themselves despite generations which have since secularized it.

    I have zero respect for the intelligence of those reporting for Breitbart Media. This is no exception. There is really no way to read complaining about “multiculturalism being forced down our throats” as anything other than an expression of bigotry. Poor conservatives are annoyed they have to recognize the nation is made of people besides themselves. /s

  • Pingback: Coca-Cola's 'America The Beautiful' Ad Does Interfaith Better Than Any Commercial Before()

  • Pingback: Coca-Cola’s ‘America The Beautiful’ Ad Does Interfaith Better Than Any Commercial Before | Doohickey()

  • Pingback: key4 geo1 | key4, geo1 | key3, geo1()

  • Pingback: Coca-Cola’s ‘America The Beautiful’ Ad Does Interfaith Better Than Any Commercial Before | Test site for blog-focusonlearning.mystagingwebsite.com()

  • Pingback: Coca-Cola's 'America The Beautiful' Ad Does Interfaith Better Than Any Commercial Before | We Report()

  • Pingback: Coca-Cola’s ‘America The Beautiful’ Ad Does Interfaith Better Than Any Commercial Before | Political Ration()

  • Atheist Max

    The Republican right wing is religious.
    And “religious” almost always means fascist.

    If Americans could wake up to that just a little bit
    and stop funding these churches
    This country could be a happier place.

  • Pingback: 10 years of GetReligion: Labels, labels, labels, labels!()

  • This content is very informative but it took me a long time to find it in google.

    I found it on 17 spot, you should focus on quality backlinks building,
    it will help you to increase traffic. And i
    know how to help you, just type in google – k2 seo tips

  • Pingback: Coca-Cola's 'America The Beautiful' Ad Does Interfaith Better Than Any Commercial Before - TOTALENTER10()