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The Hypocrisy of Bad Bunny

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Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, professionally known as Bad Bunny, has become one of the biggest artists in the music industry. Bad Bunny’s music is well known across the country; he headlined at this year’s Coachella Festival and opened at the 2023 Grammy Awards. His expression of Latinidad through his music has made him especially influential among Latinx listeners. In addition to writing catchy songs, Bad Bunny has given his music a political edge by speaking out on matters affecting the Latinx community, such as cultural appropriation and gentrification. However, Bad Bunny’s recent decision to associate himself with viral influencer Kendall Jenner creates doubt about his activism. 

Bad Bunny’s platform has highlighted issues in Puerto Rico such as gentrification and corruption. His song “El Apagón” expresses discontent towards the colonialism in Puerto Rico and the blackouts impacting the territory. The politically charged song also addressed cultural appropriation with the lyrics “Ahora todos quieren ser Latinos, pero les falta sazón” which pokes fun at people trying to be Latino but lacking authenticity. 

Kendall Jenner has a history of appropriating Mexican culture. In 2021, Jenner faced harsh backlash after launching her tequila brand 818 and posting photos to advertise her brand. A photoshoot included Kendall Jenner on a horse wearing a cowboy hat and wearing a traditional hairdo, with a pickup truck in the background. All of these cultural items are typically stereotypes associated with Mexicans, which Jenner is not.

Tequila originated in Jalisco, Mexico, and is made from the Agave Plant, which is also native to Mexico, making it an important cultural symbol. The tequila industry is also owned by numerous family businesses. As a result, Jenner was accused of profiting from Mexican culture and stealing revenues from Mexican tequila businesses. The stereotypical picture shoot and her tequila brand have harmed the Mexican community because it exploits Mexican culture.

Bad Bunny has expressed his love and care for the Latinx community, but his connection to Jenner reflects the opposite of his sentiments. A person who truly values a community should not constantly fraternize with someone who has negatively impacted that same community.  Association with that individual while expressing appreciation to the harmed community is contradictory. Given Bad Bunny’s vocal values, it is hypocritical that he has decided to keep company with Jenner, who has demonstrated a lack of respect for Mexican culture.

In a recent interview with Time Magazine, Bad Bunny appears to be backtracking on his views. He notably retracts his quote about cultural appropriation from his song “El Apagón” and claims at the time of writing that lyric he was angry and his feelings on cultural appropriation have changed. His changed views on cultural appropriation are disappointing and go against the brand he has built on addressing issues in the Latinx community. It doesn’t appear to be a coincidence that he expresses his change of views after he has been seen numerous times with Jenner, who together with her family are known as “culture vultures.”

Bad Bunny has also shown his activism through protesting. In 2019, he participated in demonstrations in Puerto Rico against former governor Ricardo Rosselló, whose homophobia and sexism were exposed by a texting scandal. In the 2020 song “Perdonen,” Bad Bunny also expressed his anger at Trump’s administration as well as his support for the Black Lives Movement. In contrast, Jenner has been accused of playing a role in invalidating the Black Lives Matter movement in a controversial Pepsi ad that showed her easing the tensions between police officers and protestors by simply handing an officer a can of Pepsi. The soda company utilized Black suffering to create profits and Jenner contributed to this by agreeing to be in the advertisement. The fact that Bad Bunny chooses to associate with Jenner shows blatant hypocrisy because the two of them take completely different approaches to addressing systemic problems that affect communities of color.

While Bad Bunny has done a great job in bringing attention to problems in Puerto Rico and among Latinx people, it’s also critical to consider the contradictions in his persona. The public has a tendency to romanticize and idolize celebrities, but we must also take into account their imperfections and recognize that no one is perfect.  A person’s choice of friendships and companions can also tell a great deal about a person; this is no different for celebrities and society must take this into account when evaluating Bad Bunny’s activism. It’s crucial to not conceal the inconsistencies in Bad Bunny’s principles when portraying him as a political icon.

Zahira Vasquez is an Opinion Intern for the spring 2023 quarter. She can be reached at zivasque@uci.edu.