America The Beautiful

Coke-a-cola is a brand than undeniably has been associated with American culture, but was surrounded in controversy in 2014 when they aired a commercial that had ‘America the Beautiful’ sung in an array of different languages (English, Spanish, Tagalog, Keres, Hindu, Senegalese-French, Mandarin and Hindu). Many viewers saw the ad as “un-American”, and that it should only be in english to be constituted as “American”, but the question then lies in what makes something American, and what does it mean in relation to girlhood? In Kirsten’s readings, we see the concept “American” within these ideals of democracy and liberty through her expression of her heritage regardless of her current residency in America, where she is free to be herself, and we see the American aspects of the coke commercial within their diverse interpretations of “America is Beautiful”, each different not only in the language itself, but in the culture of the girls heritage. Kirstens culture often is depicted through her language, her freedom that she feels to speak Swedish at home with her family, and her mannerisms that she carries throughout the books. While learning english in school, she still carries her culture of being an immigrant, fondly remembering her travel on The Eagle, and remembering the connections she has from Sweden. In this aspect, it is not the fact that she is living in America that makes her “American”, but rather her immigrant culture tied along with the values of “liberty” and “freedom”, key ideas surrounding the concept of America (Gruesz, 17). Her values of living freely with Singing Bird and her desire to not be tied down to merely school shows her value in the freedom in expression, desiring to keep her own culture without being forced to assimilate to the dominant culture. Her “American Girlhood” lies within her curiosity for something other than the culture at hand, her lying outside of the norms set for her as a girl who should be submissive, but keeps resisting assimilation. The coke commercial very much resembles this aspect of diversity among immigrant culture, just as Kirsten’s story does. Each piece is sung by a different American Girl, one who is proud of their cultural history and believes it makes them unique in America. Their ideals of freedom of expression aligns with what we’ve read in our “America” piece, using their diversity to advocate for “democratic equality. The concept of their girlhood, just like Kirsten, lies outside of the expected norm to submit, as they refuse to conform to an English-speaking America in which would try to suppress their own ideals they hold close. As said in the concept reading, America is best in its common people, so it is them who decides what is American, just as these girls singing America The Beautiful aim to do. Ultimately, their “americanness” lies in their freedom to express themselves as an everyday “American girl”, regardless of their cultural or national background. In that, they truly are the epitome of our shared values of liberty, democracy, and freedom for all.

4 thoughts on “America The Beautiful”

  1. I really enjoyed reading this blog post and I have to check out this commercial because I have not seen it! I definitely agree with the comparisons you made to Kirsten’s narrative as an American girl who’s immigrant status contributes largely to her “Americanness” and these American women who speak different languages and perhaps come from around the world. I do wonder, however, if the intention was to make them appear as immigrants who have come to America and embraced their Americanness, or if they are supposed to be seen as foreigners infatuated with American companies and culture such as coca-cola.

  2. I had not heard about this controversy before and I am amazed to hear about it and thankful for the knowledge. It is interesting how so many people believe that American fits into such a mold but it really does not and it constitutes many different cultures and many different people, I think that your last sentence sums it up perfectly.

  3. This post is by far one of my favorites. The concept of “Americanness” lying in the freedom to express oneself especially struck home. My father is an Italian immigrant and I have been able to see first hand how he identifies himself as American without letting go of his culture. The back of our house flies an Italian flag yet the front waves an American flag. He regularly supports the best of both worlds as he embraces American culture without walking away from his heritage. America would not be described as the “melting pot” if it were not for immigrants like my father and Kirsten who are able to identify as Americans while still being allowed to express their homeland culture.

  4. I truly think that you made a great connection here. The aspect of the constant changing of ethnically different girls in the commercial shows just how American is the “Melting Pot” of cultures. I think this is a very important meaning to “American” because there is so much freedom to practice your own culture in America that it creates a unique culture of having different identities. Your connection of the Coca Cola commercial and Kirsten’s stories of becoming an American girl is very well put together and I loved reading your blog post.

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