I recently came across an op-ed by writer Mark Bittman in The New York Times complaining about all the stars selling soda these days. There do seem to be an over-abundance of A-listers selling the sugary drinks. The latest? Beyonce, of course. Pepsi is pulling out $50 million from its seriously deep pockets for an ad campaign featuring the star. Well, the author likened Bey's new soda ad to starring in a spot for semiautomatic rifles. In his mind, both are dangerous to our youth. I don't think I am alone when I say that assessment is way off-base. It's not even a fair comparison. More importantly, it's not the star's job to keep our kids healthy -- it's ours and ours alone.
In Bittman's point of view, she is doing a great deal of harm by encouraging children and teens to drink soda:
Knowles is renting her image to a product that may one day be ranked with cigarettes as a killer we were too slow to rein in. From saying, as she once did in referring to Let's Move, that she was "excited to be part of this effort that addresses a public health crisis," she's become part of an effort that promotes a public health crisis. I suppose it would be one thing if she needed the money or the exposure but she and Jay-Z are worth around $775 million.
First of all, I'd say there are probably better battles to pick when it comes to celebrities sending out the wrong message. She's not endorsing gang life, getting sloppy drunk for the cameras, or sleeping around for goodness' sake. But either way, we should not look to stars as role models anyway. There is not one celebrity whose behavior I would want my child to emulate.
I know the problem is our children want to be like them in so many ways. They want the clothes they wear, the houses they live in, the private jets, the adoring fans, and the list goes on and on. Which is why brands pay stars a gazillion dollars to pretend they love a product. But unlike our children, we know it's all a fake, disingenuous game. Though, I will admit I have been suckered a time or two. I seriously doubt the Oscar winner in the commercial really uses that drugstore mascara. Still, I was convinced to give it a try. (By the way, she wasn't lying about it being flake-proof. I love it.)
But the problem is many parents believe these stars should care about the messages they are sending out to our children. But why? Why do we hold them to some sort of moral obligation when all they have ever done is sell stuff? They sell their movies, CDs, clothing line, energy drinks, vodkas, wines, children's books, you name it. Their presence is even supposed to convince us that a certain club, hotel, or spa is the best. It’s their job.
We need to stop expecting anything more noble of them. That's not to say they are bad people. I am sure Beyonce is a great wife, mother, sister, daughter, and friend to those in her inner circle. She probably gives millions to charity too. But when it comes to selling products to us and our kids, that is how she makes her living. So if we don't like what she's representing, then we need to teach our kids what is good and what is bad for them. The celebrity certainly isn't going to do it. Looking at it any other way just sets you up for major disappointment.
Do you think it is wrong of Beyonce to represent a soda?
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