Harry Styles fans launch #HarryBackOut, want singer to boycott Pepsi pre-Super Bowl party with Mark Ronson
Fans of Harry Styles and critics of the NFL and Pepsi want him to stand in solidarity with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The NFL's grand finale this February, Super Bowl LIV, will be one of the most-watched sports and television events of the new year. And it was announced on Thursday, January 16, that the pop heartthrob Harry Styles of One Direction fame will be headlining the Pepsi Zero Sugar pre-Super Bowl party. The superstar DJ and producer Mark Ronson will also be playing a set at the much-hyped event that will take place at Meridian Island in Miami, Florida, on January 31, the Friday that precedes Super Bowl Sunday.
Styles already has a No. 1 album under his belt, with his latest release 'Fine Line' earning him over 52 million streams after just two weeks in December, and it also earned the distinction of being the first number one album on the Billboard 200 in the 2020s. The 'Lights Up' crooner shared a brief statement regarding the Super Bowl party announcement saying, "I'm excited to be playing the Pepsi Super Bowl party this year. I hear they're amazing and I'm looking forward to it. See you in Miami – H."
It is also a golden marketing opportunity for Pepsi, who will be introducing their brand-new matte black Pepsi Zero Sugar can at the star-studded event. The cola giant promises that the party will be a spectacular entertainment extravaganza, saying their "out-of-this-world build-out will transport fans to a transcendent audio-visual experience unlike anything else at Super Bowl LIV."
However, fans of Styles and critics of the NFL are already up in arms on social media after hearing about the announcement and begging the singer to boycott the event altogether. The uproar stems from the fact that the National Football League and Pepsi have both courted controversy in the aftermath of much-publicized events related to rising interracial tensions in the US over the past few years.
The hashtag #HarryBackOut was trending late on Thursday as many fans begged the singer not to support the NFL and its dubious practices. A number of prominent musical artistes (including Rihanna) had previously expressed solidarity in the past with Colin Kaepernick, a former NFL quarterback - his supporters claim he was blackballed from the National Football League in 2016 after taking a knee during the US national anthem to protest police brutality against racial minorities. Kaepernick became a free agent in 2017 after NFL teams refused to sign him.
Following this debacle, the soft drink company Pepsi (and Kendall Jenner) was called out for racial insensitivity regarding their advertisement in 2017 that borrowed imagery from Black Lives Matter. The ad seemed to imply that their fizzy cola could ease the escalating racial tension between the police and protesters. Many fans called on Styles to donate the money he will be receiving for his Super Bowl party performance to a worthy cause, preferably one that is sympathetic to Kaepernick's activism.
"Harry please do not stay silent on this. This means a lot to your black fans including myself. Do better." said one fan. "Even if contractually Harry can’t get out of performing he really needs to speak up about the matter and hopefully donate his earnings. #HarryBackOut" read another tweet. It remains to be seen if Styles will bow to the wishes of his fans, but it's certainly ramped up the scrutiny on these important issues that will need to be addressed in the future.