Just when we thought the Jenner sisters will stop doing whatever embarrassing thing they’re currently doing, they rise up from the land of thot-ness and come up with another cringe-worthy move. This time around, the duo went straight to something that was downright disrespectful, aiming for some of pop culture’s most legendary faces. Simply titled a line of “vintage t-shirts,” the garments were uploaded onto the official Kendall & Kylie website where a collection of USD125 t-shirts shows the sisters’ faces printed over famous musicians like Tupac, Pink Floyd, and Metallica to name a few. Shit hit the fan when Voletta Wallace – mother of The Notorious B.I.G. – called them out for the distasteful tees on Instagram. Her caption described the t-shirts as “disrespectful, disgusting, and exploitation at its worst.”
I am not sure who told @kyliejenner and @kendalljenner that they had the right to do this. The disrespect of these girls to not even reach out to me or anyone connected to the estate baffles me. I have no idea why they feel they can exploit the deaths of 2pac and my Son Christopher to sell a t-shirt. This is disrespectful , disgusting, and exploitation at its worst!!!
It quickly caught the attention of the other icons’ family members and management too. Sharon Osbourne took her complaints to Twitter soon after with a sassy response.
Girls, you haven’t earned the right to put your face with musical icons. Stick to what you know…lip gloss. pic.twitter.com/BhmuUVrDBn
— Sharon Osbourne (@MrsSOsbourne) June 29, 2017
With a marketing faux pas this big, we’re sure the sisters will apologise for their insensitivity and slight arrogance (according to the printed t-shirts, we’ve a rough guess that they’re equating themselves to these music legends) – and sure enough, they did, but more on that later. Even if the girls had no ill intentions – they are after all a product of fame passed down from their half-sisters – it’s just about time we question why they’ve never learnt their lesson after countless marketing fails, continuous cultural appropriation, and questionable business tactics. To get into specifics, earlier this year the older Jenner a.k.a. Kendall was involved in a Pepsi advertisement that had an initial purpose to promote “harmony and peace” through a riot-styled storyline. The ad saw Kendall modelling before being lured by a cute guy to join a peace protest. Surely the team behind Pepsi had a good motive, but Kendall’s appearance proved to be unnecessary and repurposing protest culture to sell a product will never be a good look ever, turning the ad into a flop that never got to serve its purpose. To show disagreement towards the ad, Bernice King, daughter of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. posted a picture of her father during a protest march alongside a tweet that said, “If only Daddy would have known about the power of Pepsi.” Ouch.
The original video was taken out from YouTube due to the backlash, but here’s a reuploaded version:
Kylie on the other hand, seemed to rely on neverending controversy ever since she launched her popular Kylie Lip Kits. The youngest Jenner sibling was known to live under her model sister’s shadow, until she reemerged in the media with a spanking new lip that scream lip injections. She denied the allegations of a cosmetic enhancement to further promote her lip kits, until Kylie was forced to admit that she indeed received lip injections when netizens started to question her “lip liner skills” that seemed too good to be true. Unlike Kendall, who appears clueless most of the time when confronted with controversy, Kylie thrived on it and later on released an entire line of beauty products under Kylie Cosmetics. Makeup junkies were dubious over her lip kits, calling out the price hike when they found out that they were in fact, manufactured in the same company as Colourpop (a makeup line known for their affordable products). Then there was a case of blackface in 2015, a rumour about her photoshopping her body in photos, and one of the more recent ones that accused her of copying another brand’s camo designs.
The black owned company that Kylie stole her camo clothes idea from is posting the receipts of when Kylie ordered from them and I’m LIVING pic.twitter.com/4r0xEwhw6o
— Kelsha. (@kelshareese) June 9, 2017
To combat the negative reactions from both the public and kin of the artistes involved in the making of those “vintage t-shirts,” Kendall responded with an apology.
— Kendall (@KendallJenner) June 29, 2017
Unfortunately for the sisters, the apology was met with more hostility than good. Some are starting to wonder if their PR team is a joke (who can blame them?), while some fans of the duo were starting to react with comments that are just plain dumb. Like this user over here:
“Kendall and Kylie fans”… pic.twitter.com/jpfdk72Gm8
— Dominique (@CallHerDom) June 29, 2017
kendall and kylie got someone in their circle that loves setting them up to get flamed
— big baller margret (@guwop) June 29, 2017
u and ur family have had enough chances to learn from literally the same mistakes. bye https://t.co/dqLg1o1Xue
— ㅤ (@prayingfodick) June 30, 2017
My problem with this entire thing is not Kylie or Kendall per se, but the cultural influence they have over Generation Z, the fastest-growing generation that eats and breathes social media. The effect is also prominent in the latest marketing trend called social media marketing, where the usage of influencers are so overused that they become boring to some consumers but highly addictive to some. There are a lot of people out there that could care less about these two, but there’s no denying the power the Jenners hold in an industry that has evolved so quickly because of digital media. Kendall for example, belongs to a whole new group of supermodels that have changed the modelling game and brought out the importance of social media following, to make sure the brand stays on par or not, higher amongst its competitors. This is why there’s an influx of social media famous girls on the runway like Kendall, Gigi Hadid, and Hailey Baldwin. You want to be a supermodel? You have to flex your following on Instagram like it’s a ‘skill’. The old days of physical model scouting will soon become nonexistent, although we still have pioneers like Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell in the industry that have set the standard high. This eases the process for budding models who aren’t born into fame like the Jenner sisters, but it also increases the chances of brands repurposing the same faces to gain relevance. Besides being chosen as a Victoria’s Secret Angel – which in its heyday took a more organic hiring process – Kendall is also the face of global beauty brand Estée Lauder, and now Calvin Klein.
And then there’s Kylie making a big mark in the beauty industry by promoting her lavish lifestyle, beauty via cosmetic procedures and her cosmetic line that’s honestly quite brilliant. There’s a lot to comment on but Kylie knows her audience because she created them, and these are the ones who are popping a blinding cheek highlight, a very well-contoured face, and arched eyebrows that bear similarities to a Nike logo. Called the ‘Baddie’ makeup, or ‘Instagram makeup’, the essence of this whole aesthetic is a polished look that carries zero flaw. Of course Kylie will open up about her physical flaws to seem relatable, but that body positivity doesn’t gel well with her Instagram posts that show young girls a wrist full of Cartier bracelets. You see, Kylie can’t help that she’s famous, but it’s as if whoever’s handling her keeps putting her in a tough position by using offensive marketing techniques to sell this whole ‘Kylie image’. It’s hot and honestly cute when she makes an extra video just for her lip glosses, or when she comes up with products that look well-made, but it’s problematic when she appropriates Black culture over and over again through her cornrow braids and claims that she “woke up like this.”
Also, big lips, big booty, and braids aren’t new and aren’t invented by Kylie. As a matter of fact, a lot of Kylie’s creation aren’t authentic and are either blatant copies of another brand or redesigned to look like her own. Take the case of makeup artist Vlada Haggerty, who originally came up with the lip drip concept that Kylie was so inspired by, that she used a similar packaging for the first few lip kits of hers that came out. This makes Haggerty’s case another copyright infringement similar to the struggles most independent artists face when bigger, more mainstream names use their work without proper credit.
There’s no way of stopping the Kendall and Kylie effect in pop culture. However, it’s about damned time we call out their act when it’s as obvious as this. Even as a fan of the two, I’ve had enough of their shenanigans and I’m still baffled over their management who suck at handling PR crises. Maintaining a shoddy practice is just tacky and the sisters themselves should also be held responsible over their carelessness as individuals; there have been too many instances that prove the girls’ ignorance. These sisters still have a long way to go, but not when they keep getting away with committing serious offences that disrespect fellow artists, doesn’t matter big or small.
JUICE also did a piece about Hollywood whitewashing if that tickles your fancy. Read up about it here.