America The Beautiful

"I'm tweeting." 

If 24-hour cable news networks are legitimate journalistic entities, then Kelsey Grammer is a legitimate psychologist.

We can all agree that Kelsey Grammer is extremely good at appearing to be a psychologist – he’s so good at it that he did it for 20 years and won a bunch of awards. That being said, it would be a really bad idea to consult Kelsey Grammer for any actual psychological advice, what with the drug abuse and the four divorces and the Michele Bachmann endorsement. That said, I’m sure he’d still be much better at diagnosing your mental and emotional problems than cable news is at actually reporting on current events.

Cable news networks seem to be less concerned with being news networks than they are with looking like news networks. This is probably why CNN quit the investigative journalism game, laid off journalists and has begun to restructure their programming to focus on "attitude" rather than news, or why MSNBC cut away from a member of Congress talking about the NSA to cover Justin Bieber's arrest in Miami. Sure, the content isn't news, but thanks to hundreds of millions of dollars worth of flashy graphics and high tech studio toys, it sure as hell looks like news.

These days, the desperate hunt to find something to talk about that can be convincingly dressed up as news has driven cable news networks to just take a gander at what the Internet is doing and report on that. This isn’t to suggest that newsworthy things don’t happen on the Internet – they do. But these usually aren’t the things getting reported on.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is why we’re all talking about the “controversy” over Coke’s Super Bowl commercial.

The commercial features shots of Americans drinking Coke, set to “America the Beautiful” sung in several languages. Some people on Twitter took umbrage at this and quite racistly rumbled about a boycott. Cable news networks, which can sniff out ignorant racists on the Internet the way sharks can smell blood in the water, found the tweets, had the sexy communications majors they call “journalists” talk about them, and now a commercial that used languages besides English is apparently "controversial."

So first, to address this “controversy”: If you have a problem with the fact that people in the United States speak languages besides English, you can go fuck yourself. That’s pretty much it. I could explain about how this country doesn’t have an official language, or how the English language is the product of multiple foreign languages blending together over time, or how incorporating other languages into the commercial was actually shrewd marketing intended to get minorities to drink more Coke, which is free market capitalism at its finest, but I won’t, because if you’re offended at the very existence of languages other than English then you’re honestly too stupid to be reasoned with, and your only recourse is to go somewhere far away and fuck yourself until you stop being so stupid.

But the thing is, this isn’t even a controversy. Take a look at this article from CNN – notice they’re very careful not to give any indication of how many people were sending these racist tweets. Are those four tweets representative of tens of thousands of similar ones, or are they just the best of the 35 tweets Public Shaming dug up out of the 400 million-odd tweets sent on any given day?

This is not a newsworthy controversy. In fact, it's not really so much a controversy as it is a few people on Twitter saying ignorant, racist stuff because sending tweets is easy and doesn’t cost anything. That’s not news; that’s just something that happens on the Internet on a daily basis. There are over 300 million people in this country and just about anything is bound to piss a few of them off enough to pull out their phones and send some racial slurs to their 11 idiot followers. Is that news now? Is there going to be a special report every time somebody in this country gets pissed off about something? If so, expect a CNN report about this update in the next few hours.

Here’s another indicator that this isn’t a controversy: Not only did a Republican senator tweet about how much she loved the ad, but so did The Heritage Foundation. The Heritage Foundation. This group is basically the conduit through which the Koch Brothers’ money flows to the Tea Party. If the people who shut down the federal government to try and thwart affordable healthcare don't have a problem with "America the Beautiful" being sung in multiple languages, who the hell does? 

Pretty much the only public figure CNN could find to corroborate the angry tweets was Allen West, who raged at length on his blog about how foreign languages promote a “Balkanized” America and the fact that there weren’t enough soldiers in the commercial or something. If you don’t know who Allen West is, he’s a former Tea Party congressman who served his South Florida district for one term before being voted out of office.

So basically, some cranks on Twitter, plus a Congressman so shrill and reactionary that people in Florida thought he was too crazy to represent them, are mad that other languages exist, while the vast majority of Americans, including the Tea Party’s own financiers, don’t give a rip. That may not look like much to you, but to 24 hour news networks it looks like a solid three days of almost news.

Truman Capps mainly uses his journalism degree as an excuse to get up on his high horse about what does and does not constitute "real news."