During First Lady Michelle Obama’s well-publicized Let’s Move fitness campaign that began in 2010, the pop music singer known as “Beyoncé” encouraged America’s youth to quit consuming blizzards of distilled sugar and landslides of lard and, occasionally, raise their heart rates.
Then she raised eyebrows months later when she signed a complex $50million deal with Pepsi, one of the world’s biggest sugar-pushers. She’s been labeled something of an opportunistic hypocrite ever since – but then this is a public figure who is resistant to most known forms of embarrassment.
Real name Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, the 31-year-old’s music videos are a passible last resort for a masturbating teenager suffering from racing hormones and a slow internet connection. In terms of mood lighting, movement and costume, her live performances are indistinguishable from a high-end strip club (not a justification, but little wonder a Danish fan did what so many strip-club punters do when they get drunk and overly stimulated… and grabbed her arse). This is woman who actively markets the imagine of her ample backside, so the idea of, ahem, making an ass of herself – as many think she did by switching from health crusader to sugar-pusher within the blink of a sponsorship deal – probably doesn’t matter to her.
Mark Bittman, writing in the New York Times earlier this year, opinioned that one day sugar drinks will be viewed as we now view the tobacco industry “as a killer we were too slow to rein in”. Bittman speared the singer for saying one minute she was “excited to be part of (an) effort that addresses a public health crisis” to, well, y’know, being excited to cash a check for promoting that same health crisis.
Bittman didn’t complete the thought for his readers, that Pepsi and Coke and the rest will one day be thought little different to drug lords, and those who promoted their product as little more than street pushers, but he leaves the pencil there for you to draw the analogy yourself.
In an interview with Flaunt magazine this month, the singer/dancer/actor was asked about the criticism, and said:
“Pepsi is a brand I've grown up seeing my heroes collaborate with. The company respects musicians and artistry. I wouldn't encourage any person, especially a child, to live life without balance.When you work out, take care of your body, rehearse as hard as I rehearsed in the commercial, I think it's great to have a Pepsi or Diet Pepsi when you want one.”
Few will be surprised that a feature writer who introducers her subject using a browned tongue (Flaunt’s Megan Bedard introduces Beyoncé “a machine”, “untouchable” and some who makes us mere mortals “feel fierce by proximity”) failed to ask a follow-up. That’s a shame, but Mrs Knowles-Carter was halfway to saying something smart.
For years, celebrity hottie types have tried to insist they keep their hard bodies with the effortless of the gods, rather than being straight and telling kids who hang on their every word that burgers and coca cola are for cheat days only. But presented the way it is by a singer who clearly works out like a demon and must burn energy like a Formula 1 car in her live performances – the message to drink in moderation is about as good as it’s going to get in a war America is losing.
Last week’s news that Mexico has overtaken America as the world’s most obese country is slender comfort. Most of us are familiar with these grim statistics : 17% of American children are obese or morbidly obese, almost one on four Americans are obese, $150billion is spent each year on health problems directly related to obesity and that number is expected to more than double in the next five years. America is, quite literally, sitting back and eating itself to death.
People like Beyonce get kids to take their heads out of their X-Boxes long enough to think what’s in their lunchbox. And while Pepsi and the rest of their drug-pusher ilk are not going to be interested in a campaign where their sugar-water is presented as a once-in-awhile treat for people living an otherwise healthy lifestyle, maybe Beyonce hit upon the way of the future here. Tobacco and alcohol carries government mandate warnings, so should Pespi.
How’s this for ad campaign…“Beyonce reminds you to drink Pepsi responsibly”, “Pepsi, the perfect cheat-day treat”, “Work your ass off like Beyonce, then celebrate with a Diet Pepsi”.
Pretty sweet, huh?