The director of Kendall Jenner’s canceled Pepsi commercial revealed the true inspiration behind his highly controversial project, and he’s defending it to the bitter end. Bjorn Charpentier insists that his divisive ad wasn’t supposed to be offensive — it was an homage to the past. Find out what he means, here!
There’s an explanation for Pepsi’s disastrous protest-themed commercial starring Kendall Jenner, 21, and while it’s not a great one, it does provide some context as to why these decided to run it. Director Bjorn Charpentier, who directed the ad, which has now been taken off air following massive outrage, argues that the ad was not trying to commercialize the Black Lives Matter movement, as many felt, but was instead inspired by an iconic image from the 1960s.
It may be familiar to many of you: the photo shows a serene woman approach a police officer with a bayonet while holding a single flower. She’s participating in a 1967 Vietnam War protest (SEE HERE). It’s been recreated innumerable times in the decades since, and it’s easy to see how Kendall’s ad pulls from it; replace the flower with a Pepsi, and she’s technically doing the same thing. Kind of.
Then again, it’s easy to see how people think the ad coopts the also iconic image of Ieshia L. Evans peacefully protesting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in July 2016. Ieshia looked like a goddess, her sundress blowing gently in the wind as she stood silently in front of two police officers in riot gear running up to arrest her. It’s one of the most powerful images out of the Black Lives Matter movement, and when it appeared that Pepsi took advantage of it using a model, people (including Martin Luther King Jr.‘s daughter, Bernice King) were furious.
It doesn’t quite matter that Bjorn intended the imagery to be reminiscent of the 1967 flower power woman when we’re in a period of constant protest and unrest. The commercial showed Kendall leaving a photoshoot to join a totally nondescript, benign protest in the streets. Luckily, those protesters aren’t the victims of any police violence, because Kendall casually walks up to a cop, hands him a Pepsi, and everyone becomes friends. The protesters literally cheer for her. It was that bad. Pepsi has since canceled the campaign and apologized to the public, as well as Kendall for getting her involved.
HollywoodLifers, did you know about the 1967 flower power photo? Tell us in the comments.