A member of the Kardashian clan has made headlines this week. And while that’s not particularly shocking, the video was taken down shortly after. What’s shocking, we should say, is Pepsi and Jenner’s inability to scan a situation for signs of ignorance and joining the (right) conversation. Because although conversations definitely started from the advertisement, it was certainly not because of the great, refreshing taste of the carbonated drink. And while it’s cute that Jenner tried to use her celebrity status to do something ‘woke’ for once, it missed the mark so bad she might as well hit the snooze button, take a nap – and try again. Sorry, babe.
Let’s set the scene. The advertisement is rather long. But within under 3 minutes, Pepsi managed to portray the glamorous life of protests and activism, in addition to find a solution to end various social justice issues- with a can of pop. The ad, however, seems like it is hopping on the bandwagon of participating in social justice as a trend. It raises a few issues surrounding protests, police brutality, and consumerism as a tool to incite world peace. Something’s different about this protest though. People are smiling. Music is playing in the background. The atmosphere is that of a summer street festival. Scenes of dance battles and a big kumbaya take place. Jenner, a model, is quick to abruptly end her photoshoot and join the protest – because it looked kinda ‘lit’.
What Pepsi and Jenner need to understand is this: protests are an avenue used to express frustration in a system that operates and benefits from racist, patriarchal ideology to say the least. They are used to demonstrate anger, hurt, and hope. The Coachella vibes in the commercial, however, reduces the function of a protest. It seems the solution of unity can be brought forth by offering the police a drink. Because it seems like nothing quenches the thirst of bringing about world peace like a can of pop.
Police brutality is not a new issue in society. It has been an ongoing issue for decades, but has become a trending topic due to various social media campaigns and hashtags. Jenner approaching the police with a can of Pepsi as a gesture of camaraderie evokes a narrative that working in unity can produce change. But it’s not that easy. A quick Google search will lead to images of gas masks, riots, and flames – quite the opposite of the vibe Pepsi went for. Let’s not forget the black and people of colour’s lives that were taken by the criminal justice system. Names such as Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, and Michael Brown should come to mind. Not Kendall Jenner.
Jenner’s walk to the line of officers resembles the image of the female protestor named Ieshia Evans standing proud confronting heavily armoured riot officers during a Black Lives Matter protest in response to Alton Sterling being shot by police last year. The recreation of this image has also made the rounds on social media, bringing forth the appropriation of the movement. This isn’t, however, the first time the family has been under the heat for appropriation. Often sporting corn-rolls and dating black men, the Jenner/Kardashian clan has always advocated for black culture- without speaking up for black rights.
Pepsi has since apologized to Kendall Jenner for involving her in their attempt to bring about world peace. We’re still waiting on Jenner to comment on the matter. After reading a script, making the decision to be a part of this ‘movement’, as well as knowing the full implications behind getting involved with Pepsi and their commercial, it’s not sure as to why an apology was in order. Rather, Kendall Jenner should sit down, do some research on what went wrong, and face the consequences of her actions, while issuing her own apology.