Monday, February 3, 2014


Breitbart complained about the ghastly Coca-Cola entry in the Superb Owl commercial stakes:
Executives at Coca Cola thought it was a good idea to run a 60 second Super Bowl ad featuring children singing "America the Beautiful" – a deeply Christian patriotic anthem whose theme is unity – in several foreign languages. The ad also prominently features a gay couple....When the company used such an iconic song... to push multiculturalism down our throats, it's no wonder conservatives were outraged.
I'm not very clear on how deeply Christian the anthem is—God comes into it only "shedding grace" over the fruited plains and alabaster cities, as if He were a long-haired [jump]
dog or a psoriasis patient, and Jesus not at all—though it has to be said that the author of the text, Katharine Lee Bates, was a Christian, if of heterodox and almost gnostic views that appear to deny the bodily Resurrection:
Thought casts the challenge. Faith must lift the glove.
Most true it is Christ doth not save the flesh.
God's dreamy Nazarene, caught in the mesh
Of ignorance and malice, whitest dove
Net ever snared, took little care thereof.
Not His to plead with Pilate, nor to thresh
Those priestly lies. He died, to live afresh
Spirit, not body; not the Jew, but Love.
She was also a mostly terrible poet, I'm sorry to say, though "America the Beautiful" does have some really pretty lines. And unquestionably half of a "gay couple" or what was known in those days as a "Boston marriage" to the economist Katharine Corman, with whom she lived from 1890 to 1915, when Corman died (it's not clear that their relationship was sexually expressed, but they were certainly deeply in love). And a bit of a socialist disgusted at capitalist greed—
America! America! 
God shed his grace on thee 
Till selfish gain no longer stain 
The banner of the free! 
—and committed internationalist who left a lifetime attachment to the Republican Party over its opposition to the League of Nations. It's hard to imagine anybody who would object less to having the words of "America the Beautiful" sung in different languages and by singers of a variety of sexual orientations than its author. Especially if unity is the theme. Just saying.

Katharine Lee Bates did pretty well in the game, not to mention the Seahawks*, hard-working Bruno Mars, President Obama in his weird little contest against elderly rude boy Bill O'Reilly**, and animal sex***, but to my mind the clear winner was the national anthem of soprano Renée Fleming, who overcame an uncertain, rambly arrangement that seemed meant for Dawn Upshaw in her most New-Agey period, and kept lurching out of its normal triple time into four, to triumph with a relaxed swing, a funny little series of country-music passaggio breaks, and a couple of knock-your-socks-off top notes. Most Valuable Singer.

*Democratic teamwork defeats the cult of the dictatorial quarterback!
**O'Reilly seemed determined to ask only questions that had been answered some time ago; I kept expecting Obama to say "Please proceed, Bill."
***Alongside Thers, who coasted to the trophy for Most Valuable Tweet, see above.

No comments:

Post a Comment