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Pepsi was insensitive, so what?

On April 4, Pepsi unveiled a new two-minute and 40-second commercial featuring Kendall Jenner. In the advertisement, Jenner is shown working on a photo shoot as protesters march past her. Eventually Jenner decides to join the protestors and moves to the front of the marching crowd to find police lined one by one across the street. She pulls out a Pepsi and hands it to an officer, and then suddenly, everyone erupts into celebration, cheering and dancing in the street.

If you’ve been keeping up with social media for the past week, you’ve probably read about the controversy surrounding the commercial. Honestly though, I don’t see the big deal. Sure, Pepsi’s commercial was pretty dumb. It foolishly made light of serious civil-rights issues and was maybe even a little racist. In general, it’s probably not a good idea to stage an advertising campaign in a civil-rights movement led by a white person. At that point, Pepsi was just asking for it.

The fact that the commercial actually saw the light of day should indicate some issues in Pepsi’s advertising department. But does it really matter? For Pepsi, the advertisement is a learning experience. As for the rest of us, is it truly so offensive? It’s an advertisement for a soft drink. How much does it really matter? People might as well stand on a corner on a soap box shaking their fist and complain about Kendall Jenner, then maybe they’ll get people’s attention. But let’s get real, no one really cares that much about this. People were mad because they were making light of a serious issue, but also because the lead was a rich white woman.

Naturally, Pepsi pulled the advertisement a day after its release and released a statement on Twitter apologizing for the commercial and saying it didn’t “intend to make light of any serious issue.” At that point, the damage was already done; public outcry had already sprung up, and memes were birthed out of the controversy.

If a commercial for a soft drink can actually trivialize and undermine an entire civil rights movement, maybe we have a bigger problem than some dumb commercial that Pepsi came up with. And if we actually get offended by such a commercial, well, I’m not sure how we survive out in the big, bad world.

It’s going to be all right. Pepsi made an obviously dumb move, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. The sky isn’t falling. It’s just Pepsi, and it’s just a commercial. Just imagine what kind of change we might spur if we all came together — like we did with the Pepsi advertisement — to take a stand on an actually important topic. Maybe the world might be one where a dumb Pepsi advertisement really is the biggest news of the day.

But, until then, people need to stop being so oversensitive and realize — it’s just a commercial.

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Pepsi was insensitive, so what?