I’m bored with the moral panic associated with Beyonce’s decision to take a big pile of money from Pepsi. I’m not sure it is fair to expect political leadership or moral consistency from Beyonce. She is a staggeringly talented entertainer — and anyone who makes personal decisions based on what Beyonce does has their own problems.
Mark Bittman has a pretty hard-worded critique of Beyonce’s Pepsi contract, mostly from the perspective of health in today’s New York Times.
I think we should criticize Pepsi, not the celebrities that they rent to hock their brand. In some ways Beyonce is an easy target. Attacking her might even distract from the substantial conversations we need to have about the health harms of soda. We could note the historical antecedents of disrespecting and diminishing the power of black women entertainers.
And I can’t help but feel a little sorry for Beyonce, because, as a child of the eighties, the Pepsi sponsorship was a sign that a star had become a mega-star. It is a sign of the shifting culture that we are now moving soda manufacturers into the category with cigarette companies, and her sponsorship is now *bad press*.
I like Mark Bittman, and he is welcome for dinner at my house any time. I appreciate that he uses his platform in the New York Times to talk about important cultural and health dynamics of food. In this essay he reminds us of the pervasive ability of sugary beverage manufacturers to advertise to us. Product placement for instance:
My friend Laurie David counted 26 on-air shots of Coke during last season’s “American Idol” finale and an incredible 324 shots of Snapple in a June episode of “America’s Got Talent.” (“There are Snapple cups placed in front of each judge,” she wrote me. “I counted every time I saw a Snapple cup.”)
To those jaded enough to ask “So what?” I’d reply that’s a measure of how successful these kinds of campaigns are.