It started out as a joke. Anthony Taylor, the creative director of the local comedy troupe Creatures of the Night, made the Facebook event for laughs.
Then people actually started to RSVP.
Billed as “The Pepsi Protest,” Taylor invited demonstrators to show up at City Hall tomorrow at 1:23 pm, and “solve all of the world’s problems and injustices” with a can of Pepsi. You know, like Kendall Jenner did at the end of that now-infamous Pepsi ad, when she emerged from a throng of protesters to hand a can to a welcoming cop. Pepsi pulled the ad quickly, but it’s still on YouTube:
“For years, conversation online has brought out the best and worst in everyone,” Wired’s Angela Watercutter reported after the commercial’s release in early April, “But this ad, with its effortlessly cool politically aware millennials in color-coordinated denim outfits, was the one thing everyone agreed to oppose. A Twitter search for “Pepsi” reveals that virtually no one is coming to the commercial’s defense.”
Taylor says this isn’t a case of outrage. The event’s description makes light of the notion that soda can eliminate political differences, but really, the comedic actor finds the opprobrium over the ad absurd.
“A lot of people were getting mad about a Pepsi commercial, and I was like come on,” he explained. “If it wasn’t one of the Kardashians or Jenners, it wouldn’t have been as big of a deal. Getting mad a soft drink, I think, is kind of silly. There’s bigger fish to fry.”
As Billy Penn has reported, Philly has spent early 2017 in a state of “permanent protest,” with rallies, demonstrations and political organizing events happening in the city near daily. Not that there weren’t a lot of protests in 2016, when Trump was first elected and before that, when the Dems came to town for the DNC. Taylor thinks it’s all too much.
“I was so excited about the DNC coming to Philly, and people were like ‘I’m going to protest that.’ I was like ‘ooookay,’” said Taylor, a former Obama campaign volunteer. “Sometimes if you’re protesting everything from Pepsi to this and that, people don’t want to listen. It can be a little bit like The Boy who Cried Wolf.”
He went on to describe the Bernie supporters who were outraged when an email leak revealed that DNC staffers had discussed ways to hurt his campaign. “People protested the DNC without thinking, ‘Oh, if we divide the democratic party, that might help someone else get elected,’” Taylor said.
Taylor has thrown joke-turned-IRL-events before. Last year, he created an event for a Beyonce performance, then when it drew real interest, he hatched a plan to put Beyonce’s face on a Party City bridal balloon and release her at City Hall.
Taylor and his troupe are currently planning a cabaret for the end of the month where the performers will take on the characters of beloved cartoons as they sing. But before then, he’s actually hoping that folks will vibe and converse, no matter their differences, at the faux-test tomorrow.
“I think [we’ll] just kind of hang out and just talk. I think it might be a little simple, but it should be fun to do out in the sun,” he said. “We’re not going to be political; we’re just going to try to take people’s minds off things.”
The event is BYOC: Bring your own cola. But Taylor welcomes bringing an extra can. Sharing is easier that way.