Kendall Jenner stars in faux-protest Pepsi ad, receives flak for making light of Black Lives Matter
Kendall Jenner and the latest Pepsi ad she starred in recently have been criticised for misappropriating the Black Lives Matter movement and for making light of an important moment from the Baton Rouge protest held last year.
In the ad, several people of colour, various religions and different sexual orientations can be seen confidently participating in a protest. "Took all my rights away, telling me how to pray," is the refrain of the song that plays in the ad, thus making it clear that the protest is against police violence and a general compromise in fundamental rights.
Model Kendall Jenner is seen sporting a platinum blonde wig; the wig is evidently a symbol of white identity and privilege.
Jenner sees the protest march, makes eye contact with one protestor, pulls off her blonde wig, and joins them. She traverses through the crowd holding a can of Pepsi and offers it to one of the policemen, who drinks it and smiles. The crowd cheers jubilantly.
This particular moment in the ad resembles an iconic photograph from the Baton Rouge protest of 2016. This protest was against the police shootings in the Alton Sterling and Philando Castile cases, both of whom were African American citizens. The photograph taken at the protest features a black female protestor called Ieshia Evans standing peacefully in front of police officers, her arms crossed, wearing a flowing dress. She was imprisoned and released the next day in the evening.
— Traveler Tuesday (@TravelerTuesday) April 4, 2017
People have criticised Kendall Jenner and the ad for making it seem as though the issue of police brutality and discrimination against African Americans can be ended or solved through the broker of a Pepsi can. They have called it problematic because it reduces the significance of the struggle that Black rights activists, such as Martin Luther King Jr, had to go through.
"Now just wait one second officers.
I have a Pepsi." pic.twitter.com/NW0sddKOOI
— Philip Lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) April 5, 2017
— Sherry (@slchen_) April 4, 2017
Closer home, Pepsi has been criticised for an Indian ad that seemed to take a dig at the FTII protests over the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as director. The similarity between the protest as depicted in the ad to the serious protest staged by the FTII students, coupled with the timing and attitude of the ad were the reasons why it was criticised.
Watch the ad here: