Without even a hint of embarrassment, this is what the marketing types said in response to the negative public reaction to their advert launching Kendall Jenner as the new ‘face’ of Pepsi:

The creative showcases a moment of unity, and a point where multiple storylines converge in the final advert. It depicts various groups of people embracing a spontaneous moment, and showcasing Pepsi’s brand rallying cry to ‘Live For Now,’ in an exploration of what that truly means to live life unbounded, unfiltered and uninhibited.

Apparently, the protest she joins is made up of ‘gay, black, Muslim and transgender people mingling happily‘ against … ? Which would make it a pageant, wouldn’t it, or a rally at most; certainly not a protest, because they don’t appear to be protesting anything, except maybe the tyranny of being ridiculously well-paid to inhabit the fantasy world of western marketing, where vacuously attractive people meet and exchange soft drinks, platitudes and winning smiles in a slightly off-putting ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ (1956, not 1978) kind of way, or what the boffins in Pepsi Ideas Department A in fact call a ‘moment of unity’.

They were half-right. The ‘moment of unity’ happened after their advert released: the monolithic surge of anti-Jenner, post-Kardashian sentiment has finally begun to gather strength. We’ve had enough of this shit. In my dystopian future there are no marauding Jenner-shaped fembots with machine-gun jubblies, or vast gothic machinery turning humanity into faceless automatons, no. My nightmares are more of a culturally-induced early-onset dementia type of hell: privately finding it increasingly impossible to distinguish reality from falsehood not because I am losing my marbles, but because THE WORLD has lost it’s marbles, and resists (ultimately by convincing me that I’m the one that’s insane) my efforts to correct it. That’s what monolithic cultural constructs do.

The thing is, I don’t hate that Jenner girl, I am just sick of seeing her face. It’s almost as if there is a cadre of persons out there in some basement, floating in a pool of amniotic fluid, wired by their brains to the interwebz, whispering to their eager audience the name of the current ‘It’ person. Call them oracles (or Google Analytics) if you like. Their job? To tap the pulse of worldwide interest in any one person or thing, and give/sell that information to all the people out there shovelling commodities into the ravening maw of consumerism. Speaking of which, if I had enough money, I’d bribe a billion teenage girls between 11 and 15 to browse the www for instructions on self-immolation. Within 48 hours, Kendall Jenner would be on fire, trying to sell us something we don’t need in-between all the screaming. She wouldn’t be the face of anything after that, but at least she’d look more like her dad.

Wow, that was cruel.

Of course it’s not so grim: you can set your raygun to ‘stun’ and not ‘kill’ if you want. Use an ad-blocker, to begin with, but also don’t immerse yourself in the medium in the first place. A rider must accompany this suggestion, because, along with all of the cautionary literature about how we should all be diligent in curating our online personas, is the dreadful statement that employers prefer to hire people who actively engage with social media. Holy motherfuc#ing Jesus kill me now. Of course, Generation Facebook eventually become the employers, and treat those who do not subscribe to the early-adopter-of-everything-because-technology-is-the-answer paradigm with suspicion. And not give them jobs.

I love proposing answers to problems, but this one has got me beat. There is so much pressure on people now to have a public life. People obsess about their tweets, FFS, as if they are important. Katy Perry, god love her, rummaged the public-record for a redemptive image of herself after a couple of tweeting-disasters that left her filled with self-doubt. So putting a real image of yourself out there is bad? Maybe the strategy is to distract the voracious hive-mind with false idols; earn anonymity by convincing people you look like this so that nobody recognises the ‘real’ you? But what if the silver thread connecting you to your ‘real’ self slip out of your fingers? Curated personas subsume the real person. I wonder if Kendall Jenner remembers who she was before she became a  industry ‘face’? At least ‘Katy Perry’ knows that Kathryn Elizabeth Hudson does not actually look like this.

Leave a Reply