Look, we get it. Commercials exist to sell us products. And to do that they often pull at our heartstrings, align the product they are shilling with something more noble, more universal, and less, well, nakedly buy-this-thing. No matter how much Don Draper tried to convince you he understood your pining nostalgia, he was still just trying to sell you Kodak. It's fine. But what the hell is happening in this new Pepsi commercial?
The brand's new ad, featuring Kendall Jenner and the song "Lions" by Skip Marley, takes place at a rally for...something. Everyone is carrying signs that say "peace" and "join the conversation," and seem pretty happy to be in the streets trying to change whatever they're trying to change.
But there are some people who are pretty sad-the artists! There's a man playing the cello and a woman in a hijab looking over photo contact sheets, and both are pretty frustrated. Still, something tells me it's not their threatened NEA funding. All they need is a Pepsi-fueled protest, right?
They of course join the march, and start having fun and collaborating! And finally, seeing everyone marching, Jenner decides she's had it. She rips off her blonde wig and wipes off her lipstick (no makeup in the resistance, apparently) and marches straight up to a cop to...offer him a Pepsi.
Look, there are so many problematic moments here, it would take thousands of words to unpack them all. The commercial co-opts protest as something new and trendy (We're woke too! Resistance is lit! Buy Pepsi!), rather than a dangerous necessity. This scene, which invokes a now iconic photo of Black Lives Matter protester Ieshia Evans being arrested in front of police line in Baton Rouge-but instead places a white, rich, supermodel in the focus, feels particularly egregious. It's as if someone saw that photo, immediately forgot about it, and then recalled something in a dream about a woman standing in front of the cops with no political implications.
Pepsi: the official soft drink of the resistance! Wonder what CEO and Trump business council member Indra Nooyi thinks about that.
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