Everyone cue the social justice warrior soapbox speech alarm.
In a desperate attempt to prove that they are hip and understand millennials, Pepsi released a “cultural” commercial featuring Kendall Jenner demonstrating the wonders Pepsi can do during a protest. While Skip Marley’s mind-numbing song “Lions” plays in the background, the commercial sees an Asian musician and a woman wearing a hijab noticing a protest occurring outside and decide to join. A model (Kendall Jenner) in the middle of a photo-shoot also notices the protest and is encouraged by the Asian musician to join. Upon joining, the model goes to the front lines of the protest with a can of Pepsi. After receiving a pound-it from a black man, the model gives a can of Pepsi to a white police officer, who sips it and smiles.
Lets say this up front. This is a bad commercial. From the woman in the hijab screaming in frustration due to her seemingly inadequate photos all the way to the music in the background, it’s a vapid commercial. Pepsi tried so desperately to appeal to millennials in this commercial in an effort to say we understand you and your frustrations. Unsurprisingly, millennials and social justice warriors rejected and protested the commercial, leading Pepsi to pull the ad completely.
In a statement Wednesday, the soda company said, “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark and apologize”. They went on to say, “We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout.”
Not to use it as a qualifier to have an opinion on the matter, but as a bi-racial man who has experienced his fair share of discrimination, I too had a reaction to this video. However, this is where I dissent from my generation and the social justice warriors of the world, because I wasn’t offended by the commercial. I view it as a dumb advertisement for soda with a foolish message: a can of Pepsi can solve all of the worlds’ problems. Now while many see the video as having this message, most of the social justice warriors’ anger I believe is pointed towards one person: Kendall Jenner.
Now in no way am I defending a Kardashian/ Jenner, as Kendall Jenner is a spoiled brat who has never experienced a hardship, let alone discrimination, a day in her life. I believe most of the hate towards this video is because in the climatic moment she is the one who is seemingly trivializing “Black Lives Matter” protestor Ieshia Evens’ moment in which she was arrested during a peaceful protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Kendall Jenner didn’t write the commercial. Pepsi did. While many have turned their attention to Pepsi and have criticized them, I still believe most of the displeasure is going towards Jenner. She is a model/ actor collecting a paycheck. Maybe she does have such an inflated ego to the point she believes she could be the face of solving all of the worlds’ problems, but I highly doubt it.
However, why are we so upset at a commercial for soda? As I stated earlier, it’s not a good commercial at all. But Pepsi if had done this commercial in the 80s with Cindy Crawford, most people would have the same reaction as mine and moved on. But in today’s overly political climate, it seems as if everyday social justice warriors go out of their way to find something to whine about, and Pepsi’s foolish commercial is their next victim. This commercial is a nothing, and getting worked up about it showcases my generations’ ability to over-politicize even the most insignificant of topics and its inability to let them go.
On a side note, I do wonder what the reaction towards the video would’ve been had the climatic moment featured someone else other than a Kardashian/ Jenner. Most of us agree they as out of touch with society as they come, and we dislike them because of it. (*Yet we still tune in to their shows, buy their products, and use their emojis everyday.*) What if the commercial had featured someone like Beyoncé Knowles, someone who we not only adore, but link to the Black Lives Matter movement/ view as a proponent of change? In my estimation, this controversy wouldn’t have happened. We would have applauded Pepsi for creating such an edgy, socially conscious advertisement commenting on the world today. We would sing nothing but praise for Beyoncé, yet again rewarding her with adoration for collecting a paycheck. But because the commercials’ climatic moment features a person we dislike, the millennials/ social justice warriors reacted with rage.
At the end of the day, Pepsi’s now pulled-ad is nothing but a trivial piece of advertising. It should have been met with a chorus of laughter due to its ludicrous message. But once again, millennials and social justice warriors didn’t disappoint with their overreaction to such an inane commercial, and our reputation of being overly sensitive will continue to plague us if we continue to focus our anger on inconsequential items such as a commercial for soda.