Pepsi Lost Their Fizz.

The internet has gone bananas about the new Pepsi ad starring Kendall Jenner...and not in a good way. Naturally, I have to throw in my two cents:

First of all, why is this advert nearly three minutes long? Unless it’s a charity appeal, there’s no need for any advert to have that duration.

Secondly, what was the point? I watched it thrice and still didn’t get it. I thought it was a parody. It was like a stylised, ultra glossy version of an American protest, with extra layers of FA-SHUN added by bringing Ms Jenner to the mix. 

What were Pepsi thinking? I wasted my time watching something that felt like a very colourful Gap ad or a music video than a pointed illustration of modern American life.

The advert was utterly pointless. Even if they were attempting to make a point (and I still don’t know what that was), this was probably the dumbest way to do it. Was there no person of colour at Pepsi HQ (or any person, in fact) who could have said, ‘Are you sure this is a good idea?’ 

Who decided that little ‘Wonder Woman’ bit where Jenner whipped off her wig was a slice of genius? It only succeeded in making me laugh. The fist bump between her and the black guy dancing throughout was cringeworthy, as was the mini-flirting with the violinist who cannot sip properly from a can of Pepsi. But let’s be honest, the entire ad was two minutes and forty-six seconds of cringe and I’m still trying to figure out WHAT THE FRIGGING POINT OF IT WAS. 

So if peaceful protestors of the past such as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X had a Pepsi on their person, maybe the powers-that-be would have been more sympathetic to their plight? If Black Lives Matter had a Pepsi multipack, things might have been less problematic? If only real life was as simple as handing a fizzy drink to a member of the riot police, eh? Why did Pepsi think they could crowbar themselves into this issue and turn it into something palatable, edgy and trendy (ugh)? It’s as bad as that time Sky Sports turned their Super Sunday credits into WAG Central: an unrecognisable football crowd full of gorgeous model-esque women, suited blokes and happy families all waving their hands to ‘Loving Each Day’ by Ronan Keating, with not a single regular-looking football fan in sight. 

Pepsi released an apology which only apologised to Kendall Jenner rather than those who complained about the ad- why I do not know. Ms Jenner is twenty years old. She is not a child. She can make her own decisions regarding which projects she takes on and those she does not, so why they aimed their apology at her and her alone is weird. 

Seriously Pepsi, stick to what you’re good at. In fact, all big brands should probably do so unless they’re absolutely sure they have got their message right. I’m not looking to you to make a statement on the world today- I want you to carry on making mindless and insanely expensive adverts that I can roll my eyes at and not expect anything other than you selling your cold beverage to me through heavy-handed product placement. Trivialising the protests of recent times into happy vignettes of aesthetically-pleasing young people in technicolor (I saw no diversity in terms of age in that crowd at all) walking through sun-drenched streets clutching cans of your drink is not the one.

© isanynamefree 2017


Boycott at the Oscars?

I know I’m a bit late to the after party but I have to throw in my two pennies in about this whole #OscarsSoWhite saga that has been everywhere the past few weeks. I noticed that last week, the bigwigs at the Oscars released a list of presenters for the upcoming extravaganza, many of whom are from black and ethnic minorities. I am sure they gave themselves a hearty pat on the back for that gesture. Funny how they paid attention to this list and not the main actors and actresses lists, eh?

Anyway, I have a bone to pick with a couple of things regarding all this:

1. The Oscars President is one Cheryl Boone-Isaacs. She is a black woman in a highly prestigious role who was at the helm when the same issue cropped up last year. Did she not think to check the list before the nominees were announced to the world? And if she did, surely it must have crossed her mind how some people might react? Or is she so cocooned in the world of Oscars that she didn’t notice? She appeared to be caught on the hop and I don’t understand how she allowed that to happen, because the shortlist ultimately represents the Oscars brand and her.

2. Jada Pinkett-Smith and Spike Lee should have boycotted years ago. If this is such a big thing, why is this only happening now? There have been many instances where black actors and actresses should have won an Oscar and they did not. Samuel L Jackson for Pulp Fiction and Angela Bassett for What’s Love Got to Do With It, to name but two. So, as I say: why now? Because Will Smith did not get nominated for an Oscar this time round? Hmm…as much as Janet Hubert is still a tad bitter about Will Smith, she made some good points in her blog post.

3. Stacey Dash needs to be quiet. She is merely an attack dog for Fox News they wheel out when it is convenient.

Personally, I think this issue has got a bit out of hand. For all their prorestations, Will and Jada are Hollywood royalty, so it is a bit jarring when they call out their counterparts.

As for those saying that Chris Rock should withdraw as presenter: hell no! He is absolutely the right presenter for this shindig, especially after all this furore- but only if he is given free rein. He will tear everyone involved in this shambles to shreds. I’m practically rubbing my hands with glee at the prospect of all that truth and shade, live on stage.

There is a race issue at the heart of this, but it does not just involve black people being prejudiced against: it’s against all minorities. However, I do not think there should be a boycott. I understand why they think this is a good idea, but I still believe that Spike Lee and co should go to the Oscars and make their point. A sit-down protest in the ampitheatre, or say something on the red carpet, perhaps? Or get one of the presenters to comment in a way that has people tugging at their collars and smoothing down their skirts awkwardly. Staying away only serves to highlight the imbalance and to be honest, I think the bigwigs would be delighted if they did not attend. If black actors, actresses and performers stay away, it will make things easier for them.

Also, what about any black or ethnic minority persons who want to attend because they have been nominated or invited, yet do not have the clout to turn their back on such an event? They are bound to feel uncomfortable when they should not be the ones feeling that way. Spike Lee and the Smiths should go and make their presence felt because that way they can make a difference. Because, believe me, the Oscar bigwigs cannot be that stupid and do this next year. By attending and drawing focus on the numerous snubs live on air, they would take note and realise that they cannot carry on like this anymore.

Crass Journalism.

Over the weekend, a young 15 year old girl was shot dead in East London. Her name is Shereka Marsh and I don’t know her or her family, but it’s such a shame when a young life is taken in a brutal way.

So imagine how surprised I was when my eyes locked onto a distasteful picture of the deceased girl splashed on the front page of a certain newspaper (I refuse to name it but expected better from them). Considering she was a teenager and teens take endless selfies and photos of their every move, are this publication telling me and the rest of the general public that the only ‘decent’ photo they could find was of her pouting while wearing a necklace emblazoned with a crude statement? We have been told that the young girl was a straight-A model pupil who was also a prefect at her secondary school. Good natured. Popular. Showed the Jamaican High Commissioner round her school only recently. And yet, with your sources and social media being so widely available, that was the best you could do? Really??

It’s not a flattering photo of her at all due to its content and because of what happened to her, but that’s precisely why it should never have been used. We all have photographs of ourselves that we regret taking afterwards but the picture in question is inflammatory because people judge and trust me, when commuters saw it on the train this morning, some looked at her in a very negative light even though she was the victim.

Whatever happened to using a simple picture of a girl smiling in her school uniform? Or one of her larking around with her mates? Were they not dramatic enough or not suggestive enough to paint a particular picture? I was taken aback to see such crass journalism (because that’s what it is)- who knows if they’ll print an apology to her grieving family? I doubt it.

I stumbled across this brilliant site today. It’s the British alternative to ‘I Too Am Harvard’ and unfortunately I could relate to many of the ignorant comments which were aimed at these students. It staggers me that certain people still go round- IN 2014!!! -and say ‘Oh, I was pleasantly surprised, you speak really well’ to those who are not of the same hue as them. I mean, what the actual f***? Just…why would anybody say such a thing to another person? Woe betide the dipstick who says that to me one day. As for the hair issue- why do some people think it’s OK for them to touch your hair without asking? Like you are owned by the public and they think, ‘Well, you shouldn’t mind- you should be happy’ because people want to stare goggle-eyed while they stroke your hair like you’re a goat or something.

This happened to me a couple of times when I had natural hair. I’d be having a conversation with someone and suddenly their hands would move towards your head, forcing me to dodge out of their way before asking what they think they’re doing. I find it baffling, for if a white woman who usually sports straight hair turned up one day with curls, most people would tell her that her hair looks lovely/awful and carry on. They wouldn’t paw at her hair like she’s an animal. But even though more black women are now wearing their hair in unrelaxed form, some people still think there’s nothing wrong in behaving this way. 

That said, ignorance runs both ways. Years ago, an ex-colleague (who was black) once said to me that I sounded ‘Caucasian’ because of the way I spoke. Not quite sure how she expected me to sound considering I was born and raised in London my whole life. Maybe she thought I should have a transatlantic twang to my accent or that I should sound ‘more black’, a phrase that I despise. 

Anyway, ranting over- have a look at this site and you’ll also laugh and shake your head in equal measure.

RIP Felix Dexter

A comic genius passed away yesterday. Felix Dexter died at the relatively young age of 52.

I grew up watching him and his incredible characters on the much-missed Black British comedy show, The Real McCoy. Nathaniel the African accountant, the unhinged Tube ticket inspector, Douglas the ‘roots and culture’ lawyer, and my favourite, Brother Jeffers the preacher man (clip below). My family and I would cry with laughter throughout. Twitter was awash with warm words and fond memories from comedians, actors and people far and wide who loved and appreciated Dexter’s immense talent. Such a shame and here’s hoping that the BBC provide a worthy tribute to him. RIP.