As a pop culture watcher, I sometimes find it awfully hard to take many models, actors, and entertainers seriously when they discuss their ideas on social issues. Perhaps publicity stunts are to blame for my skepticism.
Then there are those times where Hollywood’s most well known are very serious about their passion for sparking change. I must admit that as refreshing as it is, at first glance it can be off putting. Mostly because you don’t know if it’s a publicity stunt.
Like the cast of “Selma” wearing “I Can’t Breathe” shirts to the New York premiere of the film . The t-shirts were part of a silent protest that referenced the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, who were both killed by white police officers shortly before “Selma” was released in theaters.
The more the cast members talked about Eric Garner’s death, and even what they learned about themselves while working on a Civil Rights era film, the more it became apparent that wearing the t-shirts was far from a publicity stunt. They were using their platform to bring attention to something bigger than themselves. I can’t be mad at that.
But what the cast of Selma did to bring attention to a social issue is a far cry from the Pepsi commercial Kendall Jenner starred in.
Last week, Pepsi released a commercial that co-starred Kendall Jenner, and in the commercial, she freed herself of her wig and fancy clothes to take part in a peaceful protest. I guess, child.
During the commercial, Kendall walked the streets with folks holding peace signs on picket signs, for some reason or another. The spot ended with Kendall giving a cop a Pepsi, and everything being right with the world again. No more fighting, just happy cops drinking a cold can of soda.
The commercial faced a ton of backlash, as it should have. It was tone deaf. Ultimately, it was pulled from the airwaves by Pepsi, and Pepsi issued a response that was just a tone deaf as the commercial itself.
The commercial was what it was – a slap in the face to celebs and activists who are trying to use their platforms to spark change, on top of being a publicity stunt for Pepsi. Of course anyone who does not know an activist, or at least follows one on social media, would not have thought about it that way.
What makes this situation pitiful to me is that Kendall is using this moment to lick her wounds and cry, and not actually recover from the melee. A source told Hollywood Life,
“She had such high hopes for it,” the source continued, “and now she’s terrified she will never work again or become a laughing stock.”
Kendall has always been on on the shy side and having such controversial attention hit her hard. “The world sees her as this glamorous, sophisticated, jet-setting woman, but she’s only 21 and she’s very sensitive,” the insider told us. “This has been very painful and embarrassing to her.”
Serious question: What I don’t understand is why crying over her feelings is more important than helping people who are really trying to make change? Freedom fighters don’t have the time to wait for one of their supporters to get out of their feelings. They often have to take their punches (both figuratively and literally speaking), and keep moving toward their goals. I wish someone at Pepsi would have explained that to her when they pitched the commercial to her to begin with.
Crying over a failed commercial does absolutely nothing for the entertainer or the marginalized, which is exactly why folks like me are skeptical of Hollywood types jumping into conversations on social issues anyway.
I don’t know if Kendall wants to recover from this. Perhaps she likes the attention she receives from expressing her hurt feelings to her fans.
Or maybe she is cooking up something to let her fans know that she plans to do better, and that her heart was in the right place. Hell, for all we know, she could be secretly donating to activists who could really use the funds and high profile support.
Hopefully it is the latter, but only time will tell.