The Latest In Celebrity Cancel Culture: Kendall, Rihanna & Justin Timberlake
Ah, cancel culture. The hateful thing we kind of hate at this point and yet somehow cannot let go of. This article comes about from recent controversies in celebrity pop culture, notably the launch of Kendall Jenner's new tequila line, a recent Rihanna fashion statement and the launch of The New York Times' Framing Britney Spears documentary. As always in the social-media era, Internet society has been quick to demand penance from high profile figures, but is all of the outcry warranted? Let's discuss.
The latest in Kardashian-Jenner marketing comes in the form of booze. Following her steamy, viral Valentine's Day lingerie shoot, 25-year-old supermodel Kendall Jenner is now making new waves on social with the launch of her very own line of tequila. This isn't, of course, the first time a celebrity has launched their own spirit nor specifically tequila. However, this may the first time a celebrity is getting flack for doing so. One Twitter user wrote, "Something about Kendall Jenner making tequila rubs me the wrong way... Like the idea of white celebrities taking from local Mexican artisans and profiting off our traditions and agricultural business yet only visit Cabos and Puerto Vallarta for vacation spots..."
Is it wrong though, for celebrities to brand and profit off of products that don't originally belong to their heritage? Indeed, Tesla and Elon Musk, which have very little to do with Mexican heritage (AKA nothing), launched their own tequila last year, and that seemed to be met with nothing but enthusiasm from the general public. American TV personality Guy Fieri and basketball player Michael Jordan, too, have long had their own tequilas and yet not a peep about these businesses in negative light so far. What makes Kendall different from Elon Musk or will we now have to backtrack and re-evaluate Tesla Tequila too?
Rihanna And Her Lavender Ganesha
Bal Gal Riri has recently been called out for inappropriately fashioning Hindu (and Buddhist) iconography on her bare torso in a social media marketing stunt for an upcoming fashion release. The controversy divides fans as Rihanna is usually on the good side of celebrity news, often praised for walking the talk on inclusivity and body positivity. Riri, of course, has never had a "good girl" image nor made any indication of aspiring to be seen as one—I mean just look at her IG handle—but is profitting off of religion or mixing religion with sexual imagery going too far?
We have seen in Thailand campaigns against using Buddhist idols as decor. Perhaps, you'll remember a huge billboard coming home from Suvarnabhumi airport that reads: "Buddha is not for decoration. Respect is common sense." This begs an interesting question: whether or not we believe in religion, should it be kept sacred for the sake of the devout? The Rihanna incident also reminds us of other religious icons popularly used in secular fashion, such as the crucifix. Is that also a major cultural faux pas or harmless statement of style?
Justin Timberlake, Finally A Bad Boy We Actually Dislike?
Hands down, Justin Timberlake has had the most successful public image of all the N-Sync boys. He went from solo-artist heartthrob to Jimmy Fallon's cool BFF and loving husband and father in a picture-perfect relationship with Jessica Biel. Only now, following the release of The New York Times' eye-opening Framing Britney Spears documentary is the world rethinking its positive stance on JT. The documentary has painted Justin as someone who got preferential treatment by the press following his and Britney's high profile breakup in the early 2000s. Britney, on the other hand, was unscrupulously blamed for the relationship breakdown and viciously harassed by tabloids. While Justin may not be to blame for the paparazzi's decision to go after Britney, he certainly didn't come to her defense as she became the generation's poster-child for celebrity mental instability.
The stark contrast between Justin and Britney's public image has caused people to also look into the difference between Justin and Janet Jackson's reputations following their controversial moment at the 2004 Superbowl. The general consensus now is that the world forgave Justin much more than they did Janet (Timberlake was invited to perform at the Superbowl again but not Jackson), and that like with Britney Spears, Justin never defended Janet when he had the chance and platform to or at least acknowledged the very obvious unequal treatment. In the last few days, Justin has extended an apology to Janet and Britney on his Instagram, but with neither responding back, is it simply too late?
See also: Chrissy Teigen's Heartfelt Letter About Her Miscarriage Is Worth A Read