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Pepsi Ad Controversy: It’s Black Hermione, CBS’ Pledge Of Allegiance Debate All Over Again Race And Issue Batting We Don’t Have Time For

Current Trends by Natasha Sapp

Proof you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t whether you try to stay above the fray as CBS did or try to make a statement, be culturally relevant, positively impactful even while selling soda, candy, entertainment, foods. And no, America doesn’t need a better, more attuned emotional quotient unless it involves not falling for these non-scandals, but certainly not in terms of avoiding the ‘Kendal Jenner’ ad as it has since been dubbed or immediately recognizing why it is offensive. Because just as fans, the internet’s debate of a black Hermione for the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child stage production had nothing to do with race and everything to do with J.K. Rowling’s constant additions, revisions, inconsistencies and incongruent information sessions during, but especially post, series following in the unfortunate steps of George Lucas and Star Wars, leading to a situation making casting a black Hermione the way they did completely silly and untrue to the character. Dawning comprehension CBS’ rejection of a cute little girl reciting the pledge of allegiance had absolutely nothing to do with the unpatriotic, un-American sentiments of network bigwigs, an attempt to appease secular humanist liberals, social justice whine-o’s who want to annihilate America’s cultural history, generate a forced utopia as fake as reality television with twice the devastation, and was contrastingly centered around its ill-fit to sell real estate, varying kinds of insurance for those properties even to a local audience viewing an annual rodeo event. Because they knew where opinions would fall on both sides, the further likely spawned uproar regarding using patriotism to sell a product, any product versus say giving to charity; lively discussions talking about using a child in such a shameless way, not to mention the added, special permissions needed to use children in such commercials, particularly scrutinizing known exploitation revealed running wild in Hollywood on top of the droves of lost young stars, ruined young talent chewed up and spit out by too much pressure too soon. All detracting from the goal: to sell insurance, draw business to your firm, agency, group, bring in dollars for the TV network; CBS, reading the landscape tealeaves, shrewdly said no thank you. Returning us to the latest hot button, trending topic, social media explosion cranking out article after article, warranting a nightly news mention, Pepsi’s gamble arguably should have been worth it offering a totally different message that should have resonated rather than making people feel patronized, their struggle cheapened, angling a bid for unity, defacto providing recognition in a more vibrant, lasting form than endless protest footage on wall to wall cable news….
General consensus seems to be Pepsi should have just stayed out of it, found another way to sell their product without being utterly tone deaf to the mood of the country; belying to ridiculing the seriousness of resistance and what it means to the activists, people fighting for life, livelihood, the lives of their children, justice for unfathomable wrong those who’ve never experienced it simultaneously can never understand. Situations sufferers already feel the rest of America doesn’t see, white people pre-privileged out of the womb, handed opportunities as their defacto birthright wouldn’t know how to live, function or succeed without and why are you making it worse in the process of selling soda, something you have a thousand other ways to sell it might be added? Recurring theme here, aren’t we putting too much stock in a soda ad, what people could possibly get out of aforementioned soda ad, giving it their maximum attention and let’s face it who does that today with anything forget a commercial, not part of the super bowl set meant to grab and keep your rapt attention costing millions to make and the only consistent time throughout the year you can get a mass audience focused on the same thing at the same time. Commercials, shock and awe, drawing attention to something they, viewers, may not particularly like, won’t necessarily buy, may prefer Coke, Mountain Dew, Doctor Pepper or Root Beer over Pepsi, the unique beverage not the brand…. Further tackling the accusation Pepsi used other people’s pain to sell a product, a particularly crass product in the form of soda with no intrinsic value, hold it; you mean they did what advertisers every one have done for decades going back to the first newspapers, traveling salesmen peddling elixirs, tonics throughout the old west laced with every kind of drug and not fulfilling half their claims, shock everything seen in a commercial isn’t real? Perhaps people need a reality check on the fundamental nature of advertising then along with a twin dose of recognition Pepsi’s advertising tactic is no different than funds solicited for St. Jude or Shriners hospitals, the ASPCA, religious program documentation of abysmal conditions for faith X and needing viewers’ financial help to change it, pictures of the drought induced famine underway in Africa; equally the links to donation options posted on ABC’s website, the donations accumulated from something billed an informational newscast segment. Few see anything wrong with that excepting possibly televangelists bilking grandmas out of social security checks if that wasn’t a stereotypical slanted trope to begin with; quite the opposite argument, the segment was done in hopes it would both make people aware and elicit donations to help save lives. Unhindered and widely un-objected to products do the same too from hair removal wands to bathtub and sink scrubbers, specialty mops whose top selling point is either no need to visit a doctor, pay for expensive electrolysis treatments to remove unsightly hair or clean your home with ease sans bending to reach shower corners, be on your hands and knees to effectivity clean floors. What about specially tubs ideal for elderly persons permitting them to stay in their homes, life alert and adjacent systems of wearable devices connecting elderly disabled persons to emergency help; again granted mentioned causes, attempts to sell certain products are for their target audience’s good making it possible to stay at home safely, mitigating fall, bone breaking hazards for our growing elderly population, convenience cleaning items holding positive implications for older individuals, those with disabilities, painful injuries, but isn’t that always advertising’s angle, even soda can enhance your life with a better tasting drink? Additionally, despite the current political climate, data surrounding the election of president Trump, emboldened hate groups of all stripes, first and foremost white supremacy, spewing their views at every turn, feeling justified in saying what they’ve sadly been thinking for quite some time, directed hate toward African Americans, Muslims, LGBT persons; our activist climate, numerous protests are proof more people want diversity, inclusion than don’t… Too blaming Kendal Jenner, who it has to be pointed out between laborious character assassinations, independent who her family is, the sizeable wealth she stands to inherit at some juncture in her life, may have already inherited since 21 is the standard age for such inheritances to activate chooses to work anyway, unless working in some aspect is tied to receiving inheritance monies, continuing to receive said monies. Kendal Jenner, who regardless of unknown stipulations placed on her in reference to accessing family wealth seems to enjoy the work she does, has several modeling, business venture and writing gigs to her name, belying her fame and popularity comes exclusively from appearing on her family’s reality TV show. Jenner who technically, theoretically, if she ‘truly wanted to work’, be a ‘normal’ contributor to society could have become a doctor, lawyer, teacher, social worker; however, in the longstanding climate of who you know outpacing, outperforming what you know when it comes to career entrance and mobility, she arguably did the right thing parlaying her family knowledge of the business, not just name connections, into opportunities for herself. Nor is she unique in doing so the Olsen twins did the same thing both during and post their Full House years, Hillary Duff, Miley Cyrus, several former Disney stars including Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Selina Gomez branched out significantly from their beginnings; neither is she responsible for the current state, the longstanding state of the industry she elected to work in because it made the most sense, she appears to have a talent for, worthy to keep in mind she is new and just works there. To that end, she showed up to do a job, unknown is if she petitioned Pepsi for the gig, maybe her agent did; stars of her caliber, looking to gain jobs routinely have one, at which point he’s merely doing his job in securing his client meaningful paid work. And, everyone in acting, modeling, TV, show business, by the way, puts in their time, pays their dues doing small parts, underwear ads, TV commercials before hitting it big, moving on to better, greater projects. News at 11:00, bashing Kendal Jenner for being white, privileged and successful all at once is not only reverse racism personified, it will not change race dynamics in this country…. Never mind who exactly is paying that much attention to commercials, who would see it anyway calculating the number of households steadily cutting their cable cords, trading in expensive cable packages for a Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime subscription combo giving them better quality programing and a distinct lack of ads, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast creating similar effect, internet purposefully crafting ads based on user search histories virtually eliminating ads for things that don’t interest that specific person…. . When all else fails, you actually are dealing with old school audience members the invention of the mute button and the fact we all know watchers head for the refrigerator, the bathroom as commercials start takes huge chunks out of the body of persons you’re reaching; before going off shelves entirely VCR’s held an auto-fast-forward activated during commercials no one wanted to see, common knowledge people pause shows using their TiVo, TiVo usage reducing ads seen as well multiplying the fold reduction of people viewing the ad, translating into, again why are we talking about this period, still talking about it?…. Talk about a distraction, wasting ink, talking points, news segment space over Pepsi or Kendal Jenner in this instance is a trolls and the Trump agenda win; because while we were talking about Pepsi’s bad ad in the context of anything other than this is what gives so called social justice warriors a bad name, remarking it leaves them open to being called ‘snowflake,’ pansy ass real things were happening that effect broader swaths of the American people in much realer ways than perceptions from a soda commercial. Setting aside ongoing escalations with North Korea, how the French election impacts Europe, reshapes functional parts of the world, what Russia is doing today to manipulate us, someone else, undermine democracy globally there’s what’s happening here at home, local legislation going on behind the national scenes. Example, do you live in South Carolina, are you of child bearing age; then you might be interested in their latest push to outlaw abortion with hot off the presses incarnations of a personhood bill. For or against LGBT rights, issue neutral: North Carolina you voted out Pat McCrory over the bathroom bill backlash costing the state millions if not billions in revenue from lost advertising, canceled concerts, celebrity and other boycotts, business withdraw, not to mention the NCAA, NBA and every other national basketball organization fleeing the state, so shouldn’t you be more upset they are spending legislative energy trying to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage at least as far as North Carolina is concerned?… Everyone should be paying attention to the flurry of executive orders, regulation rollbacks issuing from the Whitehouse including ones allowing coal mines to dump their waste in rivers, slash safety regulations for workers not to mention potentially their overtime pay, a new religious liberty order greenlighting religious institutions’ foray and monetary donations into politics, possibly streamline with ease discriminating against both contraception and LGBT persons when it refers to religious landlords and employers…Zika funding may end by summer 2017 for want of funding for tracking effects, devastating birth defects i.e. microcephaly and the documented 58 cases, prevention; Zika on track to wreak more havoc as there is an outbreak in Texas ahead of traditional mosquito season even for such a warm area. Stoppage of Zika funding removes too mosquito control that could cut down on other health effects, viruses and sickness carried by the insects, end patient education about the virus, its transmission, potential devastation on pregnancy and the resulting infants. Major headlines are focused recently on healthcare, tax cuts as they should be; sadly meanwhile republicans are likewise very quietly doing all they can to erase precious few gained financial regulations enacted post the financial crisis—chipping away at Dodd/Frank , weakening the consumer protection bureau behind banking regulations, controlling credit card fees, revoking rule preventing commercial banks from risky speculative investments, shrinking the too big to fail test, elongating timeframes between tests to discern health of financial institutions posing a risk to the entire system, paving the way for increased debit/credit card fees. GOP tax proposals released to media beyond projected to explode the deficit, amounting to little more than massive tax cuts for the rich, consisted of one page double spaced bullet points in more fonts than most knew were available in standard word processing programs, extremely light on details pushed out just prior to Trump’s 100 day mark embodying a play on the saying Jesus is coming look busy; this time constituents are watching look busy…What offends me more than any celebrity, white celebrity doing just about anything, let alone seen in an ad for whatever product racist or no, is minorities paying greater premiums, greater amounts for car insurance for no conceivable reason other than they weren’t born white. Held up alongside people who don’t understand, nor want to understand, initiatives like affirmative action continuing to insist our race problems nationally are in the past, and anyone speaking out about race issues now, it’s all in our heads. Collective society concurrently doubling down on the portrait, narrative black people are Hulk Hogan sized monstrous thugs who need to stop going out committing felonies if they want to be seen otherwise while minorities in F towns like Ferguson Missouri are targeted for traffic stops, jay walking, breaking hardly known ordinances on old cars situated on your own property in order to fill city coffers. And poorer minorities or whites are victims of court systems only open 1 day per month, are miles away from where the ‘defendant’ lives; such persons forced to languish in jail, unable to contribute to their own defense because they can’t afford bail. Cops are caught on tape telling their subordinates to arrest more black people coupled with a jury who couldn’t convict cold blooded murderer, laughing former police officer Michael Slager for the life of them or 50 year old Walter Scott…Offending more still, police manage to avoid charges in the brutal slaying of Alton Sterling though they had him on his back and shot 2 bullets point blank into his chest while kneeling on him; gun he bought to protect himself from area muggings during the course of hocking CD’s out of his car trunk giving what little monetary support to his kids he could after amassing a ‘criminal record’ under previously described F-town conditions, found in his pocket. Officers plainly appearing to panic the moment they emptied his pockets discovering the gun, somehow forgetting as pinned down as he was he couldn’t have reached it anyway. The enraging case of 15 year old 9th grader, honor student Jordan Edwards gunned down by police leaving a party where police allegedly were called to a noise complaint; why, the car came towards the officer in an aggressive manner, claims proven false by body cam footage, as was apparently reports by responding officer(s) of shots fired. Escalating my offense level is, the proms that weren’t desegregated until double digit years of the 21st century because they were hitherto held in private venues, the Mississippi school courts ordered in 2016 to desegregate deemed acceptable until then due to railroad tracks dividing essentially 2 area middle and high schools, not race exclusively ending a legal fight began in the 1960’s. The Alabama school allowed by federal court ruling to return to what is basically segregation or the Florida principal of a largely black school who instructed staff to put all white students in the same class…What offends me more is our society wide failed understanding why personalities a-la Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos never should have been invited to speak on any college campus anywhere, anytime; yes, we know college campus violence, mass protest is rare, most college students are worried about being awake for their first class, passing professors’ pop quizzes, doing well on finals and that Berkley has always been a flashpoint through previous decades, times of national upheaval, unrest for protests. However, problems with the named persons, other headline making commencement addressees, event speakers is not owing to they are conservative and campuses are primarily liberal, not that the term ‘safe space’ has gone so far students think they have the right not to hear viewpoints, different, opposing from their own, coopting too many administrators and professors into believing the same, willing to desecrate free speech by not allowing them to speak in the process. Converse to all that millennial gen Z stemming drama, it’s said speakers behavior, prior, present statements disqualifying them the same way revelations about Bill O’Reilly, Rodger Ailes, Bill Cosby and Shawn Hannity mark them undesirable. The same way we wouldn’t invite a holocaust denier, 9/11, Sandy hook truther to spew their hate; it’s one thing to not impede freedom of speech, it’s another to hand hate, vitriol, inciting of violence and obnoxiousness a podium. The same way climate change deniers, all/most birth control is abortifacient champions would be unwelcome, because the things they are saying are factually inaccurate. Highly offending under listed criteria is why people are confused at uproar over Condoleezza Rice’s Rutgers commencement speech invite years before or Betsy DeVos’ days ago, blaming the students for protests, trying to ban speakers the antithesis of the event they are scheduled to speak during when that falls to, talk about tone deaf, administrators; administrators who should have been cognizant that Rice receiving an honorary doctorate in law hypocritically, not only could be viewed but was, inappropriate. Considering her prattling on beside her boss George W. Bush about WMD that very probably did not exist, her support of water boarding, themed attitude leading to incidents like Abu Ghraib; her actions, support of actions taken during aforementioned administration leading many far removed from social justice warrior college campus snowflakes to believe she should be tired for war crimes. Astute protesting students stating had she been invited to a panel on ethics during war, her administrations, presidential administrations in general’s response, declarations of war, modern warfare as seen in Iraq, Afghanistan Syria, Yemen exc., ethics in modern warfare vis-a-vis the preceding instances she would have been both welcomed and respectfully heard, even if profoundly disagreed with. DeVos on the other hand represents something distasteful to the institution of education itself, incompetence, a job achieved by deep pockets and cronyism while knowing nothing about it; evidenced by her confirmation hearing where she couldn’t answer the most basic questions regarding debates in approaches to education, achievement measuring, is totally clueless on the challenges facing public schools, has never attended one herself, allowed her children to attend a public school, even plagiarizing senate questionnaire answers, irony lost only on her. Provoking legitimate fears, understanding her religious background, she will privatize, monetize through tuition fees, charter schools now public K-12 Ed.; also unsettling her financial support for gay so called conversion therapy and the largely religious institutions who practice it, a practice one state has taken steps to outlaw on persons under 18 cataloging the devastating psychological effects. Sealing her dunce like fate in the minds of even high school flunkies, never mind college educated students set to graduate admonished at the ceremony where DeVos tried to speak, scenes from her confirmation hearing where, when asked about guns in schools and do guns have any place there, presumably in the hands of security guards, conceal and carry authorized teachers to prevent, mitigate loss of life if confronted with an active shooter situation she suggested guns were needed in Wapiti Wyoming to protect students from grizzly bears, footage readily available to mildly tech savvy persons on the internet. What offends me more is looking at the march for science, the climate march, going back to the women’s march beginning of the year comprehending we’ve needed a march on each one of those subjects plus many others besides in growing pockets of the nation for a solid decade or longer when Texas schoolboards decided to whitewash history books translating to the whole nation because the largest maker of textbooks manufacturing facilities are concentrated there, when one state tried to craft an AP history class solely out of the 10 commandments and Reagan speeches, scaling back biology, physiology at the high school level to accommodate abstinence only sex ed. And we’re just now getting national attention to what’s been happening when president Trump was elected? Read More

Anger At Jesse Williams’ BET Awards Speech And Outcry Over Political Comedy Betrays An Anxiety Around Discomfort— A Critique

Current Trends by Natasha Sapp

To many he blew the doors off the house with said speech upon accepting a humanitarian award, applauded for taking the opportunity to make meaningful public commentary on something as impactful and profound as the devolving state of continued police brutality on minority communities, particularly the black community. Being a member of the black community, doing it as well as the Harvard graduation speech also going viral online earlier this summer, graduation speeches earning standing ovations, national recognition, and for good reason. This of course brought out the haters who thought he should be fired from his gig on Grey’s Anatomy for being anti-white, circulating a petition to that effect; basis of the petition seeming to be, had a white person said the same things about African Americans they would have been globally chastised and expediently Fed- Xed to the unemployment line, relegated to answering want ads, virtually black listed and rightly so. Especially considering the fickle nature of his profession and that one little wrong move can derail your career in Hollywood, being deemed difficult to work with or one big movie flop, one lack luster performance, suddenly no one wants you. In this case citing precedent on the Grey’s set, who could forget of course, Isiah Washington’s very public firing and removal of character Preston Burke after Washington made a homophobic slur to fellow cast member, at the time, TR Knight referring to his as faggot. Orientation of Shonda Rhimes, Grey’s Anatomy creator’s politics aside, never mind what Williams said about race and police while being ‘anti-white and anti-law enforcement’ was 99% true and needed to be said; what he said wasn’t a slur of any kind rather a frank, blistering assessment of the way things still are, an example of the work still needing to be done, how far we still have to go…Few however alighting on what the true firestorm should have been about: the redundant, unhelpful indictment of his own community taking on a new face; the hypocritical indictment of white people willing, trying to help after seeing with their own eyes videos describing, detailing what minorities have said for years, having had the scales taken form their eyes, so to speak, finally beginning to think what if that was me, my child, my sister, my brother, aunt, uncle, friend. And he repays them with that speech, after years of begging, pleading, imploring whites to find their conscience, see blacks, other ethnicities as human beings, as equals, not animals, chattel, see and acknowledge the injustices visited upon blacks by police, employers, those who should be their fellow citizens, they start to and he rewards their effort with that speech….How is it that someone did not stand up from the BET awards audience and tell him just as ‘eloquently’ where he could stick his thoughts on the ‘right’ way and the ‘wrong’ way to wear ‘black identity,’ the ‘right’ way and the ‘wrong’ way to represent ‘black’ identity,’ represent the African in African American, grabbing that award trophy away and breaking it over his obviously too thick, fame inflated head or at his feet, whichever is non-lethal while imparting the same powerful lesson. There isn’t just one way to encapsulate a culture, an ethnicity, a community, and if you have to start your commentary, your work telling whomever it is you’re endeavoring to help to look more like this, don’t do that and start doing this, you are precisely the wrong person to be receiving a humanitarian award, the wrong person to be speaking to, or on behalf of, ethnicity issues, regardless of your skin color, if your skin color matches those you’re trying to reach, make understood to the rest of the world… the problem with Jesse Williams’ speech isn’t that I have heard spoken word poetry done better, though I have; my skinny, white high school writing teacher read Sekou Sundiata’s Space to classes year after year with more great oratory befitting a single, underrepresented ethnicity, in literature or elsewhere, than any aspect of Mr. Williams’ delivery that night. Nor that there is a palpable anxiety around discomfort in our supposedly increasingly coddled culture of safe spaces; though I have no idea if that’s the core reason their named conservative targeted him or attacked comedy ‘because it was no longer fitting into the mold of almost totally white and acceptable excluding all previously fringe portions of society.’ And the reason I don’t care about either 2 items is because there is so much more to care about; the bright red bullseye problem with what Jesse Williams said in his BET acceptance speech is it’s the same old repackaging of black respectability politics that never really went away in the first place…. It smacks too much of Bill Cosby shouting down the kids who weren’t getting shot down for political reasons, but got shot for stealing pound cake when we knew it was about so much more than pound cake, Coca Cola; asking where parents crying at their child in an orange jumpsuit were at 2, 12 and 18, how they missed their child had a pistol, when he should have been asking why trained police felt it ok to shoot anyone in the back of the head for suspicion of petty crime. Knowing full well a staggering percentage encompassing those absentee, clueless parents were probably incarcerated on varying degrees of legitimate charges, virtually assassinated in the street not by thugs, bangers, gang members committing drivebys, rather by police before we knew names like Eric Garner—Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, the newest names added to the carnage since Jesse Williams decided to channel Cosby in front of a microphone trying to tell it like it is… Mr. Jell-O…Irony of a man telling kids to pull up their pants who couldn’t keep his zipped and needed to drug women to get them into bed despite his celebrity status, probably committed the far greater crime, than expecting things handed to you, sagging your pants or blaming ‘the system’ for your own failures—rape, fathering at least one child out of wedlock while bashing women for having 8 kids by 8 different fathers simultaneously amassing 20 mistresses, paying hush money to protect his stellar image was lost on all of no one… No, Jesse Williams shouldn’t be fired for his provocative poetry, neither should he be lauded for it, but like Bob Costas, Lawrence O’Donnell and Ed Shultz in late 2012 emphatically insisting if Jovan Belcher had not owned a gun, i.e. had guns not been so easy to get, he and Kasandra Perkins would still be alive, he deserves to be called out for getting it horribly wrong in crucial ways, for too quickly jumping on the bandwagon of respectability politics run by those who came before him to the same disastrous results, resorting to discussions on pound cake, sneakers, vernacular instead of the issue…Or in Williams’ case, why name brand clothes are bad for blacks and blacks alone: because slavery… How easily he dismisses for all the “Burying black people out of sight and out of mind, while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil—black gold. Ghettoizing and demeaning our creations then stealing them.” Those who happily line up to be ‘stolen from’ ‘exploited,’ who don’t see it as exploitation and shouldn’t; to make money and do well showcasing your culture all of it, the good, the bad, the ugly, the raw, real places people come from, come up from and come out of informing people and creating a good life for you and yours, fluffing the economic 11th commandment: giving your children better than you had, the 11th commandment for the impoverished: get the heck out of the projects. The ‘white’ people who work at record labels, similar venues who aren’t racist or exploitive making the same money helping back people tell their stories through their music, their clothing, their business venture, and what pray tell is wrong with that again, other than you don’t like it… . It reminds me of a white college English professor I had who told the story of her little boy also ethnically completely white (no more than 8) who liked talking in black vernacular was very free in church, things she tried to discourage him out of lest he be called a racist, accused of the same, wrong, bad form, exploitive cultural appropriation; let’s make that sit down and for good measure shut up… Jesse Williams is the type of person, at least in his identity politics, who makes people feel they aren’t black enough, loyal to the cause enough if you don’t do certain things, arrange their life a certain way, accused of cozying up too closely to oppression otherwise…deemed uneducated fools in the streets who will never reach their full potential thanks to their habits. And if this is not Jesse Williams, if this was not his message, why did he give that speech and give it that way; if I’m reading this wrong and his not touting respectability politics with a side note or 2 on other issues, then why give that speech, why the lines about brands on our bodies, why the lines about gentrifying genius, extracting dollars like oil, black gold? If it meant something else, other than telling black people the evils of money, to focus on something else, never saying what, acting like we should all be in sack cloth and ashes until such a time as what, he never clarified either, then why did it hit my ears and so many others that way, why engage the argument that way at all, why not the line about Tamir Rice and stop, giving people more to think about on top of it?Read More