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What The Flak Kardashians?

It is a natural instinct to stay away from talking about specific issues such as; religion, morals, beliefs, etc. because those are the topics what initiate arguments. Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky talked about this issue; flak, in their propaganda model. According to media institutions, flak will be labeled as a negative response towards a media outlet. Usually, the negative reactions are caused by the content that is released by the media programs which will ultimately lead to backlash. Topics that should not be discussed in media sources are religion, children, race, etc. There is a whole list of things the media should “supposedly” stay away from in order to be seen as favorable. However due to change of ideology and hegemony in modern society, the meaning of flak has evolved from a negative connotation to a positive.

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Braids or nah?

In society we continually evolving with trends and our ideology is continuously changing. Now more than ever we are confining all viewpoints and making it our own. We are the society that confirms and alters. Typically, we would look at religion and culture as sacred. Now however culture appropriation is headlining every news article and media source. If I had a nickel every time the Kardashians are on the front cover of “US Weekly” promoting cultural appropriation, I would be a Kardashian already. If you have not seen recently, Kim Kardashian received a huge amount of backlash from wearing bleach blonde braids. Kim Kardashian; not a stranger to controversy, was posting on her popular Instagram posing erotically with her braids. Many activist claims that Kim Kardashian is sexualizing black culture in order to receive more followers and attention. -They are not wrong. On top of that Kim uses Bo Derek as an influence for her braids. If you do not know who Bo Derek, she was one of the first white people to appropriate braids in media in the seventies. Kim Kardashian said it herself say, “So guys, I did Bo Derek braids, and I’m really into it.” According to activist Mathews, “Banking on blackness is a shameful enterprise, and the Kardashians are no better than racist judges, prison officials, and corporations who make money off the incarceration of black bodies.” Everything Mathews is saying is right, taking away from black culture and using it as a capital ploy is shameful, however, is that what everyone else thinks? Kim Kardashian may appear stupid, but she is not. She knew exactly the response she was going to receive from posting provocative pictures. Other social media accounts like Instagram, daily post, and others knew the expected reactions as well. However, instead of taking down the image and reexamining the disturbance, they kept the picture. -But why. Not only the celebrity is a huge contributor to content on their website but also controversial topic like this put media sites on the map. You can bet that after news was circulating about this, everyone was logging in to their Instagram and looking up what is going on. The public loves this and that our ideologic view.

Pepsi Save the World!

Not only does the public loves obscurity but so do big money corporations. Flak, when used smartly, can be the greatest marketing tool in company, and Pepsi exemplifies it. Does a certain Kardashian and Pepsi ring a bell? Pepsi released a commercial not too long ago with Kendall Jenner walking with a Pepsi can and taking it up to a guard at a Black Lives Matter protest. It seems like the commercial was a simple idea but the backlash it received was tremendous. The Black Lives Matter movement was a very monumental time in American history. It was a time when people were rising to change how government authority treated African Americans. Understanding the severity of the matter, approaching it in a publicity act must be acted upon in a sensitive case. However, Pepsi failed on doing that, and the commercial received a massive influx of hate. Commentators called the Pepsi company insensitive, disgusting, evil, and many other names. Pepsi soon realized activism could not be used as a theme in a marketing plan. The company took off the commercial within four hours of publishing it. The Pepsi company said, “This is a global ad that reflects people from different

walks of life are coming together in a spirit of harmony, and we think that's an important message to convey." The response from the company was lack lustered and rushed. Prospectively you would think Pepsi is dead and Coca-Cola is in. However, that was not the case. Just like Kim Kardashian, Pepsi is very smart. Pepsi became hugely popular after and was the topic of everyone’s morning. According to USA Today, “The beverage and snacks giant's revenue increased 2% to $15.7 billion in the quarter ended June 17. That edged S&P Global Market Intelligence analyst expectations of $15.57 billion. Net income of $2.1 billion, up 5% from the same quarter a year ago, topped expectations of $2 billion.” Pepsi was the talk of the town. Something about controversy makes people so intrigued. Pepsi knew precisely what they were doing when conducting the screenplay for this commercial. They knew if they got an A-lister celebrity; like Kendall Jenner, and had her in a controversial commercial they would reach immense success. Using flak, Pepsi was able to create a clever hoax as a viral marketing campaign.

The meme is showcasing Pepsi and Kendall’s lack of interest of remaining sensitive towards certain issues. The meme is trying to poke fun of students not caring about school just like how Pepsi did not care about the current issues.

Trump, Kardashian alike?

So far we have talked about using flak to make a media star and creating profit for a billion-dollar company, how about I tell you, you can use flak to become president. Do not worry I am not going to talk about another Kardashian. Naysayer, insulter, and commander in chief; Donald Trump used the power of flak to become President of the United States. Generally, you would think when campaigning for presidency you would approach your campaign with ideas and generosity for the people, but not it this case. Trump and his team assembled this ingenious campaign that highlights Trump’s rude and monstrous capitalist personality which got him elected. But how is this possible? Well in our society we live under a hegemonic rule where the ruling class dictates on what is allowed in speech and not. So pretty much the ruling class is telling us we want controversy over reason. We want someone who is daring rather than reasonable. During the Trump campaign, a large amount of backlash occurred. He consistently made fun of minorities, treated women poorly, and made no sense when talking about politics. The NYTimes claims, “Trump defied the predictions of pundits and pollsters, more than a few of whom foresaw an Electoral College landslide for Hilary Clinton. That’s what their numbers told them… Trump did what he had throughout his surreal campaign: exploded the traditional assumptions, upended the usual expectations and forced us to look afresh at the accepted truism and hoary clichés of our political life.” Trump used flak to win presidency. He knew the American people wanted an image of themselves rather than an image of hope and progression. Trump exemplifies the benefits of flak by making fun of politics and others. If you look up the statistics of who received more attention from Trump and Clinton, Trump wins by a landslide. The reason for that was because he was able to create controversial topics that attracted readers to become drawn to his campaign. Using flak as ploy to get attention he was able to achieve his goals as winning the election.

What does this say about us?

Flak is defined as a negative response to media content. The Propaganda Model says that flak can only hurt media outlets because of the backlash that is received. However just like how the fifth filter has changed meaning so has this one. Flak is now seen as a tool to help media industries. We understand how flack can help popularize celebrities, increase revenue, and become president. This society is continually changing its ideologies, and we see that controversy is one of those ideas that is popularized in humanity.

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