The famous family the internet loves to hate (or in the case of my Keeping Up binge-watching habit, loves to love) has found themselves once again embroiled in an internet-wide controversy, this time, over the release of supermodel Kendall Jenner's top-secret new tequila line.
On Tuesday, Kris Jenner's second youngest daughter took to Instagram to announce her latest venture -- launching her own spirits company. "for almost 4 years i've been on a journey to create the best tasting tequila. after dozens of blind taste tests, trips to our distillery, entering into world tasting competitions anonymously and WINNING," Jenner wrote, alongside a party face emoji. "3.5 years later i think we've done it! this is all we've been drinking for the last year and i can't wait for everyone else to get their hands on this to enjoy it as much as we do! @drink818 coming soon."
... and to simply pose the question of why, exactly Jenner decided to embark on such a venture.
However, Jenner's blunder goes beyond appearing to not seeming to know too much about tequila, with several arguing the company is an example of cultural appropriation and gentrification.
"Kendall Jenner starting a tequila brand, with zero knowledge on Mexican culture and calling it '818 tequila' is GENTRIFICATION. The 818 does not claim Calabasas. What about those smaller, family owned Mexican tequila/mezcal brands? They deserve the hype & support," mused self-identified health justice advocate, @jenjocelyn in a thread dissecting the negative impact of Jenner's tequila line.
"It could have been any other white woman from a wealthy area profiting off of Latinx culture. My point is they claim the 818 when it benefits them, but do they claim what's real? Do they even know that the 818 has some of the poorest cities in LA? 15 miles NE of Calabasas?" she continued. "For people who don’t know much about the San Fernando Valley, so many Mexican & Central American immigrants have built their lives in the 818. The cities in the Northeast San Fernando Valley are also very UNDERinvested. Low-income households just tryna make it for their kids."
@jenjocelyn was far from alone in her views. Several others spoke out about the appropriative elements of Jenner's new business.
Amid this criticism, some offered suggestions for the socialite. "Maybe Kendall Jenner should donate a percentage from each tequila bottle sale BACK to the low income 818 communities. Since she wants to profit off of it," suggested @_ohlizz.
Jenner's tequila woes expand beyond appropriation, as according to a November Instagram video from cocktail expert Lucas Assis, consumers should generally steer clear of celebrity-owned tequila lines due to their impact on traditional creators. "These tequilas are killing the industry. They just reach out to a factory, the factory sends out samples they have, they put their name brand on the bottles and market it at whatever price they think will sell. The best tequila you'll ever taste won't cost you more than $150 bucks." he said, referencing George Clooney's Casamigos line. Part of the reason, he explains is due to the scarcity of one key ingredient. "Tequila can only be made in the state of Jalisco in Mexico. It has to be made with 100% blue agave. Blue agave takes about 8 years to mature," he said, noting a recent agave shortage, "skyrocketing" prices, and how some farmers are harvesting the plants notably early, when they're only four years old, making "a very inferior spirit." "We can't keep giving money to these distilleries who are just making a cookie-cutter tequila, ensuring that the industry as we know it might not survive this, and that one day, these are gonna go away."