Yurt it Up, Motherfuckers!
If you’ve been to a movie theater within the last four months or so you’ve undoubtedly seen am advertisement for Diet Coca-Cola where national treasure and Garry Marshall’s grieving widow Gillian Jacobs drops some truth bombs about the calorie-free version of Coca-Cola and also life.
A lot of people think that Coca-Cola is an illegal drug and that buying or possessing it can get you arrested or even result in serious jail time. Alternately, they’re worried that drinking Diet Coke is taboo from a cultural standpoint, and that if friends or relatives catch you drinking Diet Coke, or even Diet Cherry Coke, you’ll be fired from your job or shunned by society.
Jacobs is here to tell you that neither of those things are true. Diet Coke is not an illegal drug like heroin or a controlled substance like Fentanyl. Furthermore, drinking Diet Coke is socially sanctioned pretty much everywhere outside, I dunno, religions that forbid caffeine.
Gillian Jacobs has a message as powerful as it is necessary: it’s okay to drink Diet Coke. If you want to, you can drink it right now. Unless you’re on a kick to quit soda and are asking your family or friends to hold you accountable, literally nothing untoward will happen to you as a result of drinking Coca-Cola.
But in these instantly iconic advertisements, Jacobs goes even further, telling viewers, “If you want to live in a yurt, yurt it up! If you want to run a marathon, I mean that sounds super hard, okay. Just do you, whatever that is. If you’re in the mood for a Diet Coke, have a Diet Coke” before introducing the slogan, “Diet Coke: Because I can.”
I’m not going to lie: when I first heard Jacobs invite me to go live in a yurt I did not, technically, know what a yurt was. I had a vague sense that it was a house of some sort but I needed dictionary.com to define a yurt as “a tent-like dwelling of the Mongol and Turkic peoples of central Asia, consisting of a cylindrical wall of poles in a lattice arrangement with a conical roof of poles, both covered by felt or skins.”
Now it is possible that either Gillian Jacobs or Coca-Cola is in the pocket of Big Yurt, and that instead of appealing metaphorically to consumers’ sense of adventure and possibility they’re both heavily invested in companies that build, sell or rent yurts and are trying to double up and sneak a ubiquitous plug for this exotic (to Americans at least) form of housing into a commercial for caffeinated sugar water.
Alternately, you could say that the message of this commercial is that you can drink Diet Coke, and because it’s delicious and it makes you feel good, you should drink Diet Coke.
That to me is way too boring. And narrow. Also, it’s crazy derivative. “Just Do You” is literally only a word away from the legendary Nike slogan “Just Do It” and essentially means the exact same thing. “Because I can” similarly seems like a variation on “Just Do It.”
That’s why I think the real message of the commercial, and the one that resonates both with me and also the rest of what I’ve decided to call the Yurt Generation, is Jacobs’ simultaneously tongue-in-cheek and inspiring message to “Yurt it Up.”
Jacobs of course does not mean that we should literally move into yurts. That would be silly. No, she is instead using yurts as a metaphor for overcoming your fears and having the courage and bravery to really live your dreams.
For some “yurting it up” might mean coming out of the closet, leaving their close-minded small town and pursuing their lifelong goal of becoming a superstar fashion designer. Or maybe “yurting it up” means quitting your lucrative but soul-sucking corporate job so that you can open a fine-dining eatery in rural France.
Or maybe yurting it up means selling your mansion and giving away most of your money to charity and ultimately deciding to live in a tent-like dwelling of the Mongol and Turkic peoples of central Asia, consisting of a cylindrical wall of poles in a lattice arrangement with a conical roof of poles, both covered by felt or skins. That, honestly, would be yurting it up in a manner both grindingly literal and also symbolic.
You know what it means to “Yurt it Up.” It’s the most meaningful and enduring bit of pop advice since Melania Trump very meaningfully and not at all nonsensically admonished us all to “Be best.”
It’s important to Be Best, of course. We all know what that means. And if you be best, and you Yurt it up? Then nothing, but nothing can stop you, my radiant child, for you contain within your noble spirit the wisdom of the ages and the sass of a generation with the guts and the vision to really Yurt it up, no matter the consequences.
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