Let me introduce you to the new trend in marketing and sales: dead celebrities. It seems like nobody can rest in peace because someone else is always ready to use your likeness on cotton blend and sell it for a profit. If not your face, then your suicide note. Take Urban Outfitters for example, who came under fire a couple years ago for selling t-shirts with Kurt Cobain’s suicide note. The retailer has since taken down the shirts from their website due to the sheer number of complaints on social media and op-eds from news outlets condemning the store for it’s blatant lack of respect.
Recently, the Jenner sisters hopped on this trend. Kylie and Kendall sold shirts bearing the faces of both the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur behind a close up headshot of Kendall sporting large hoop earrings.
Biggie’s mother, Voletta Wallace publically condemned the merchandise on instagram. She posted a photo of the shirt with a giant red ‘X’ over it, her post captioned:
“I am not sure who told @kyliejenner and @kendalljenner that they had the right to do this. The disrespect of these girls to not even reach out to me or anyone connected to the estate baffles me. I have no idea why they feel they can exploit the deaths of 2pac and my Son Christopher to sell a t-shirt. This is disrespectful , disgusting, and exploitation at its worst!!!”
I am not sure who told @kyliejenner and @kendalljenner that they had the right to do this. The disrespect of these girls to not even reach out to me or anyone connected to the estate baffles me. I have no idea why they feel they can exploit the deaths of 2pac and my Son Christopher to sell a t-shirt. This is disrespectful , disgusting, and exploitation at its worst!!!
According to TMZ, Wallace’s lawyer, Julian Petty also threatened to sue and sent a cease-and-desist letter to the two sisters. The shirts originally sold for $125 each and all of them show images of the women taken from instagram imposed in bright colors over the faces of other celebrities. The tees have since been taken down along with other shirts bearing the images of Metallica, Pink Floyd, Kiss and Led Zeppelin, and Ozzy Osbourne, whose wife, Sharon Osbourne also condemned the use of her husband’s face for the Jenner’s own commercial use.
On Thursday afternoon, the Jenners posted the same apology message to twitter:
— Kendall (@KendallJenner) June 29, 2017
This is only the most recent smear on the Jenner/Kardashian reputation. After Kendall’s Pepsi commercial, Kim’s apparent use of blackface and all the controversy surrounding Kylie and her line of makeup.
Capitalizing off the images of people without their consent is not only a recipe for a PR disaster but it is also indicative of someone without a sense of regard for others. The dead are not a marketing tool. They are not an accessory. They’re people who have passed. Who still have families: mothers, sisters, fathers, wives, husbands, daughters, sons. If the deceased don’t deserve your respect, their families at least do.