Kendall Jenner ‘818’ Tequila Phenomenon
We are living in postmodern age of globalization, where social media engagement becomes a new currency. It is impossible to discuss pop culture without mentioning celebrities. From their styles, to partners, to businesses, they are a big part of influencing pop culture.
Over the previous few years, social media and pop culture have almost become synonymous with the Kardashian-Jenner clan. Their lives are heavily publicized and many of their actions are widely scrutinized by the general public. As one of the most well known people in the world, everyone seems to have an opinion regarding their actions, and that also includes Kendall Jenner.
Who is Kendall Jenner? What did she do?
Kendall Jenner is a celebrity household name. She rose to fame through her family’s Keeping Up with the Kardashians show and her modeling career. It comes with no surprise that the public is heavily invested in her and any article published using her name would gain attention. It also comes with no surprise when her latest business deal gained a lot of attention and criticism.
In February, 2021, She launched her own tequila brand called 818, which comes from the Los Angeles country code, where she grew up and rose to fame. On the surface, it is just another celebrity opening a business, but people are very invested and divided in her case.
Why is it a cultural appropriation ?
Cultural appropriation is a major moral concern in the postmodern age. Postmodernism is a movement from the late 20th century that concerns itself about moral, reason, sensitivity and politics. So in this age where racism is not tolerated cultural appropriation is a very sensitive subject, especially when concerning people of color and white people.
Since tequila is a traditionally Mexican liquor, many labels her action as cultural appropriation, while others argue that it is just another liquor brand. Kendall is not the first celebrity to sell tequila but she is arguably the one with most attention to her.
Many people called her out because they are genuinely upset over her actions, while the rest are sensationalized media. Countless videos and articles hopped on the bandwagon about Kendall Jenner and her tequila. Even those who do not follow Kardashians-Jenners closely know of her new product.
But amidst all of the sensationalism, there are real concerns regarding her whether this is cultural appropriation and whether it could really hurt local Mexican tequila makers.
Since historically, white people have taken advantage or stolen other people’s culture, it is reasonable that Kendall’s 818 tequila is met with criticism. Some are worried that this will compete and harm local Mexican businesses. Many people expressed their disagreement with the name branding.
They believe that by naming a Mexican product 818, a county code for Los Angeles, it suggests that the tequila is from Los Angeles. Kendall also said that she spent 3 years developing her tequila. Her tequila is made from agave, which in reality, agave tequila takes 7 years to make. Her tequila also contains Spanish that has grammatical errors. These led people to believe that she just put her name on a product to sell without caring or learning about the culture.
However, Kendall is not the first celebrity to sell tequila. For example, Dwayne Johnson or famously known as “The Rock” ahas a tequila label Called Teremana Tequila. Yet she received the most backlash and attention. The attention comes with her name. The name Kendall Jenner is a very powerful tool and currency.
She is able to sell out products by wearing or promoting them. She works with famous people and brands. With globalization, it is almost automatic that people know and care about what she is doing. Other celebrities, though powerful, would not garner as much attention as Kendall’s name. The Kardashian-Jenner clan are also famous for being bad or unrelatable. They are well known for their messy behavior and unattainable lifestyles. It is a big part of why people like to hate and criticise them.
For many people, it is fun to criticise someone who is rich, famous and has a history of doing inappropriate things. And for the media, this means sensationalism. Articles concerning Kendall and her tequila sensationalised her as a person and used her name for publicity. The majority of media covering her are just doing so because she is a sensation, not because they are discussing cultural appropriation or her atcion’s effects. Kendall is always in the tabloids. It does not matter whether she has done something, since she is a celebrity that people pay attention to.
Kendall Jenner is a part of Globalization
There is also another argument of cultural globalization, that since everything is so integrated into each other, it is impossible not to borrow from other cultures. The world has become a “global village”, which is a term coined by Marshall McLuhan. It suggests that through globalization, the world has become more or less the same place. But through the same argument, many believe that just because there are less barriers, it does not mean that there should be no efforts towards maintaining and differentiating culture.
Cultural appropriation continues to be a sensitive subject in pop culture. Ultimately, there are no definitive right or wrong concerning cultural appropriation, but the best solution seems to be to do research and educate yourself while respecting what people from that culture think.
Kendall Jenner is known for many things, and will continue to gain attention in the future. She is able to set trends and influence the pop culture scene. Her actions whether right or wrong will always gain attention and criticism from people. At this point, her name comes with both dislike and admiration, because through globalization and social media, she is able to expand her influence worldwide. Her 818 tequila controversy is one out of the countless stories about her.
Kendall should educate herself better and choose a more appropriate product next time, because she does bear responsibility as a famous celebrity with massive infuncial power. Though she has done both great and unagreeable things, she will continue to be in the spotlight and it is unarguable that Kendall Jenner has solidified herself as a part of our pop culture.