For some, these images may just look like Kendall Jenner handing a police officer a Pepsi. You may see her surrounded by friends, having a laugh. Maybe you aren’t able to see anything wrong.
The truth is, there is something deeply wrong with these images. Start by comparing them to the photos below.
Another simple offering handed to police officers. Only this time, it isn’t met with the same reaction. The woman is taken away. This is the reality.
Kendall Jenner starred in a Pepsi ad, first aired in 2017, that went viral, but not for a good reason. The ad depicted Jenner defusing a protest situation by handing a police officer a Pepsi, after witnessing the protest from a photoshoot. The ad was released at a particularly hostile time in American politics. Black Lives Matter protests were in full swing across the nation and people had a range of opinions on the issue. It was poor form of the company, and Kendall Jenner for agreeing to star in the ad. After much opposition from people across the world, the ad was removed from distribution after just one day.
The Black Lives Matter movement is incredibly important, in America, and here in Australia. It brings awareness to horrific and unjustified deaths of so many black people by police and civilians. In America, in 2012, Trayvon Martin was shot and killed after a man thought he looked suspicious walking through the neighbourhood of relatives he was visiting. In 2014, Eric Garner was selling cigarettes on the street when he was put in a chokehold (against NYPD protocol). He yelled out “I can’t breathe” multiple times until he became unconscious and later died.
In Australia, Ms Dhu, a Yamatji woman, was arrested for unpaid fines after calling police on her partner who was violating an AVO. She died in custody 2 days later after multiple complaints of poor health were ignored or overlooked by supervising officers. Sadly, this is just a small example of hundreds of similar deaths.
It is understandable however, that many would not see anything wrong with Pepsi’s ad. They may not be up-to-date with the political climate of the United States. They could be unaware of the sadness and anger surrounding the deaths of so many, innocent black people from gun violence and the poor judgement, or even prejudice, of the country’s police. Maybe they are opposed to the Black Lives Matter movement, maybe they’re a police officer.
This is where the theme of this week’s blog post comes in. Interpretation and representation. Without background knowledge, or with our own preconceived opinions on certain topics, we may not be aware of an issue with a certain topic or action that may have a major impact on another community of people. Everyone will interpret this ad and group of photos in a different way. It can start a discussion or debate, but education is the key to understanding, empathy and action.
Kendall Jenner –
Black Lives Matter Rally, Baton Rouge, Louisiana USA –