On July 4, the Ad Council — an American non-profit organization best known for the ads featuring Smokey the Bear, the “Crying Indian”, the Crash Test Dummies and lesbian comedian Wanda Sykes telling kids not to say “That’s So Gay” — unveiled the #WeAreAmerica campaign featuring World Wrestling Entertainment’s John Cena telling people to love gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, female, disabled and Muslim Americans. Considering Cena and WWE’s massive fan base, that’s a powerful message that could resound far and wide.
In its short life so far, the ad has gotten nearly 2 million combined views on YouTube and Facebook with over 39,744 shares. In it, musclebound John Cena says:
“Patriotism. There’s a word thrown around a lot. It inspires passionate debate and is more like a badge of honor and for good reason, because it means love and devotion for one’s country. Love, for a word designed to unite, it can be pretty divisive.
See there’s more to patriotism than flag-sequined onesies and rodeos and quadruple cheeseburgers. Patriotism is love for a country, not just pride in it. But what really makes up this country of ours? What is it we love? It’s more than just a huge rock full of animals like cougars and eagles, right? It’s the people.
Do me a favor. Close your eyes for a second… picture the average U.S. citizen… Chances are the person you’re picturing right now looks a little different from the real average American. There are 319 million American citizens. 51 percent are female. So first off, the average American is a woman, cool, huh? Is that what you pictured?
54 million are Latino, 40 million senior citizens, 27 million are disabled, 18 million are disabled… 9 million are lesbian, gay, bi, transgender — more than entire amount of people who live in the state of Virginia… Three and half million are Muslim, triple the number of people currently serving in the United States military.
Almost half the country belongs to minority groups: people who are lesbian, African-American and bi and transgender and Native American and proud of it. We know that labels don’t devalue us, they help define us, keeping us dialed into our cultures and our beliefs and who we are as Americans. After all, what’s more American than freedom to celebrate the things that makes us us?
… This year patriotism shouldn’t just be about pride of country. It should be about love: love beyond age, disability, sexuality race, religion and any other labels, because the second any of us judge people based on those labels, we’re not really being patriotic are we?”
It’s kinda incredible that a WWE wrestler is advocating for love of LGBT people when you consider that WWE has a spotty track record with gay, lesbian and bi characters. And although the Ad Council has been criticized for being a tool of government propaganda that does little to address systemic injustices harming average Americans, this ad is still an important message to combat the queerphobia, misogyny and Islamophobia that permeates our culture.
Previously published July 5, 2016.
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