The Super Bowl is a strange spectacle. At its core is the game, played between the NFL's elite teams in a winner-take-all match for the title. But the circus that has grown up around the world's most watched sporting event rivals anything Barnum and or Bailey could have dreamed up. From the hours-long pregame show complete with bands and actors hocking movies (I'm looking at you, Costner) to the extended halftime, the commercials and the post game analysis paralysis, it barely even resembles a football game except when guys in pads are hitting one another.
With the increased visibility, social media goes crazy. And when even the slightest controversy -- real or imagined -- rears its head, you can bet the denizens of Twitter will be over it like white on rice. In particular, those with jingoist or racially biased tendencies (some not just tendencies) come out of the woodwork. During Sunday's Super Bowl, there were five moments that seemed particularly race baiting even if they weren't in reality.
5. Bruno Mars
No surprise here. When Mars, a native of Hawaii, took the stage and ripped it up with his band, it was predicable that there would be racist tweets hurled at the pop star. But, when the Chili Peppers joined him, it got worse. Fans of the RHCP began clamoring for more of their favorites and less of Mars. Unfortunately, many of those online responses turned into name calling and Mars's skin color was the primary target.
4. Russell Wilson Reverse Racism
Here's one I wasn't expecting. When the Seahawks did win, there were quite a significant number of tweets referring to their quarterback as an Uncle Tom, though they chose far more colorful language than I. This seemed to be fueled, at least in part, by those who felt that Wilson "wasn't black enough," especially when compared to his teammate, Richard Sherman, who was blasted just two weeks earlier for his postgame tirade.
3. Cheerios Mixed-Race Ad
The Cheerios ad featuring a mixed-race family has been around since early 2013, but once again, it brought the hate on Super Bowl Sunday. The ad, featuring an adorable little girl, her black father and white mother seemed to drive people as crazy as it did last year with many claiming Cheerios was trying to ram diversity down our throats. I assumed they were just trying to ram Cheerios down there, but what do I know?
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2. Richard Sherman Wheeled Away
When Sherman was injured late in the game and had to be wheeled out on a cart, initial questions came in as to whether this was a real injury or just a way to keep him away from the cameras when the game ended. Turns out he was really hurt and the avalanche of tweets claiming it was karma for his controversial postgame interview after the NFC Championship came pouring down. Of course, if it were truly karma, he wouldn't have won the Super Bowl, but...
1. Coke's Multi-Lingual "America the Beautiful" Ad
The first thing I said to the group of people I was watching the game with was, "This is going to piss a lot of people off." Coke, always a little on the hippie side with its ads over the years despite its occasionally brutal corporate practices (never mind the mass quantities of sugar in its beverages). The "I'd like to buy the world a Coke" Christmas ad that became one of the most popular of all time. But, in this ad, they attempted to show the diversity of America with people singing "America the Beautiful" in various languages instead of just holding hands. Naturally, rage ensued.