The Internet and Twitter has been abuzz with the latest release of the new Pepsi commercial, featuring Kendall Jenner. Many people, including myself, are not happy or impressed. There are SO MANY things that are wrong with this two minute and forty second ad, I don’t even know where to begin. First of all, why would anyone, including Pepsi, think it’s a good idea to use a white female lead with over a 31 million dollar net worth linked to a problematic and vapid famous Hollywood family (meaning she has absolutely no idea what inequality feels like) be the face as the heroine that saves the day and stops police brutality? This is a joke, right? Oh wait—it’s sadly not. This is our reality you guys.
The video begins with a musician playing on a rooftop. It cuts back and forth between people protesting for “peace” and “love” and a sign that reads “Join the Conversation,” to a Muslim woman with a hijab examining her photo negatives. Both the musician and the photographer are minorities and appear frustrated with their craft. We also see Kendall modeling during a shoot while the protest is taking place. She wears a blonde wig and appears highly distracted by the protest. The musician and photographer both decide to join in, and there’s a moment where Kendall and the musician lock eyes and he beckons her to join everyone as well.
At this point, I’m rolling my eyes because everything seems super cheesy and over the top.
Kendall throws off her blonde wig and makes it a point to smear her lipstick before joining the protest, because suddenly she’s woke af and I guess being a brunette without lipstick is the more casual and go-to look when you’re trying to take a stance on politics?…Uhhh…Okay Kendall and Pepsi marketing…
Pepsi is a brand. Its main goal is to sell, sell, sell. I get it, but this was NOT the way to do it. They decided it would be a great idea to cash in on all the political protests going on in the world that deal with highly sensitive and meaningful issues regarding the struggles for equality, and produce an over-the-top commercial that showcases a white woman as the savior.
This commercial only gets more ridiculous when she is walking through the crowds smiling, while people (mostly minorities) smile back at her. Of course she grabs a Pepsi that just happens to be chilling in a bucket full of a bunch of ice, and heads on over to hand it to a staunch police officer. The frustrated photographer from earlier smiles because she is just about to capture an “iconic” moment. The crowd cheers and Kendall saves the day when the officer accepts the drink.
Okay, that’s it Pepsi. Now you’re just insulting an entire movement…How about that actual iconic photograph of Ieshia Evans peacefully offering herself up to handcuffs for protesting the death of Alton Sterling? What are you trying to do here, Pepsi?
Pepsi is a brand. Its main goal is to sell, sell, sell. I get it, but this was NOT the way to do it. They decided it would be a great idea to cash in on all the political protests going on in the world that deal with highly sensitive and meaningful issues regarding the struggles for equality, and produce an over-the-top commercial that showcases a white woman as the savior. As always, minorities are used as the “tokens” or “accessories” and “props” that cheer on and help guide the white person to victory…Sadly, this is nothing new. In fact, this has been going on for far too long in Hollywood and advertising/marketing. In real life, protesters, especially black women and men are getting beaten and shot for fighting for equality. Kendall, a white woman offers a drink to an officer and doesn’t get shot or arrested. Everything is just fine and dandy in this twisted and highly delusional Pepsi ad.
What’s the message? All you have to do is stand behind a pretty and thin white woman holding a can of Pepsi, and all will be well in the world of political protests? I beg to differ. And when has Kendall or Pepsi ever really been political? This whole commercial is just one major disaster. Casting white female leads and using minorities as tokens, doesn’t strengthen the conversation nor change it, it only worsens it.
Everyone wants to be political now, such as white women suddenly speaking up during the Women’s March because it was also about reproductive rights, but when all the other chaos is going on in the world, such as minorities getting deported, or black men and women getting gunned down, the crisis in Syria, many white people don’t want to take part in that activism or speak up, or as Pepsi states in their new commercial “Join the Conversation.”
And let’s not forget this awful Placebo Pets ad Kendall was in last year. Lauren Devine, a white woman, is portrayed in “black face,” as the dog/secondary character…need I say more?
Summing it All Up
✦ The white savior narrative: Minorities serve as “accessories” or “props” that help guide and cheer on the white person to victory (sadly nothing new for Hollywood)
✦ Pepsi mimics the iconic moment and photograph of Ieshia Evans, a black woman, peacefully offering herself up to handcuffs while protesting the wrongful death of Alton Sterling, while Jenner, a white woman, offers a Pepsi to an officer and receives a smile and an enthusiastic cheer from the crowd, thus saving the day (Kendall Jenner magically solves police brutality)
✦ Pepsi and Kendall Jenner cash in and exploit the black lives matter movement and other protests that typically deal with highly sensitive issues regarding the fight for equality that other people of color/minorities face daily—something the famed white 21 year old with about a 31 million dollar net worth of her own, and born into a wealthy family—clearly knows absolutely nothing about.
How You Can Really “Join the Conversation”
✦ Help promote and support POC artists
✦ Donate to causes and charities/non-profit organizations
✦ Help support #schoolsnotprisons
✦ Stay informed
✦ Call your representatives
✦ Don’t support white-washed movies like Ghost in the Shell
✦ Join the community at change.org