Argentina — 21 April 2017

Jonathan R. Rose

What can be said about The Pepsi ad that hasn’t been already said?
A lot, actually.

But what can be said has little to do with Pepsi itself. Pepsi did not commit a crime. It did not even lie. It perpetuated a stereotype.

The commercial they put together didn’t convey imagery conjured from thin air. It just grossly exaggerated some of the superficial images that anybody who has been to a protest in the United States has already seen, while completely ignoring any images involving the inherent violence or anger they have most likely seen as well.

In the commercial, the people were prettier, the signs were more ambiguous, the music had better sound quality, and a model gave a cop a can of Pepsi. But other than that (and the complete disregard for anything remotely negative), what was really different from an actual protest seen in the United States?

Blaming Pepsi for perpetuating the stereotype they chose is the same as blaming a comedian for making jokes about a stereotype they have seen, heard about, or has had direct experience with. But blaming the perpetrator of the stereotype is always easier than changing the nature of the stereotype itself. And while people deserve credit for putting forth the necessary effort to have the commercial removed after a single day, the question now is how much effort will be put into changing the stereotype that led to the commercial’s creation in the first place?

Stereotype based expressions can make people uncomfortable, especially when they get too close to the truth, and Americans seemed to be incredibly uncomfortable after watching that Pepsi commercial. Was that because the commercial was too close to the truth?
People in America were offended at what the commercial showed, many of whom for good reason, but that is not the point. The point is regardless of how uncomfortable, how offended people were, that doesn’t change the possibility that their discomfort and offense resulted in seeing the truth, or at the very least, a portion of the truth they did not want to see. If that is the case, it is but a first step to blame the person, or the company in this instance, for showing that truth. The second and much more difficult step however, is to blame the source of that truth itself, even if that source is yourself, or somebody you know, or somebody you respect, or somebody you love.
If Americans are so angry about the imagery they saw in the commercial, then they need to change the source of the imagery itself, not just settle for blaming the corporation who tried to profit from it.
This leads to an interesting event that occurred on April 6th throughout the country of Argentina.

After a month of constant marches and protests, most of which were similar to those seen throughout the United States, as they were filled with people holding signs, chanting slogans, blocking streets, and demanding change, the people throughout Argentina, organized and led by several unions, took things a step further. They carried out a strike that completely shut down all public transportation throughout the country, not the capital city, not a whole province, but the whole country. From subways to buses to trains to flights, both national and international, everything stopped. The only exception was taxis, and only a section of them were on the roads.

In the current state of American unrest and dissatisfaction, while it’s crucial to look inward, it is of equal importance to look outwards as well, which means looking beyond borders to see what people in other nations are doing to oppose the leaderships they deem unjust.

In Argentina, many of the people are not happy with the actions of their current leadership, but instead of just marching with signs and shouting slogans, in essence portraying the stereotype that Pepsi deemed acceptable to exploit, they took things further. What will they do next? How much further are they willing to go? And what will the government they are so openly defying do in response? These are the important questions. These are what should be the topic of discussion when it comes to public defiance, not just how to stop a soda company from ridiculing the actions already taken.

When a company like Pepsi is shamelessly mocking your actions, it’s easy to get mad at them for it, but it is also a clear indication that the actions they mocked need to be changed.

Just imagine if Americans shut down all of the public transportation throughout the United States for a single day?

They did it in Argentina.


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