So Elbow have graduated to John Lewis Christmas advert levels of fame, loveableness and National Treasure status. They’re doing a cover of The Beatles’ Golden Slumbers in the latest version of John Lewis’ festiva Agent Orange assault on Britain’s airwaves, involving a blue monster called Moz who oh who gives a flying fuck.
I’ll be honest with you, I’m losing this battle. Every year I come up with a new mode of attack on the John Lewis Christmas advert and every year they remain impassive – and then go ahead with another multi-million-spunking, heartstring-tugging bottom-lip trembler of an advert whose rough notation goes SAD-SAD-HAPPY-BUY AN EXPENSIVE BAR OF SOAP FOR SOMEONE YOU DON’T REALLY LIKE.
It’s like someone smiling as you insult them, someone impervious to your irritation who keeps doing something irritating, a zombie that doesn’t know it’s dead. Every year John Lewis rises, yawning from its annual January – November dormancy and farts another 120 seconds of vastly expensive guff into the Twittersphere.
“Oh it’s just a bit of fun,” you say. No it isn’t. It’s a wholly predictable photocopy of last year’s effort that only garners attention because the concept of John Lewis Christmas advert has generated a momentum of its own, giving lazy journos, hapless vloggers and doomed bloggers something to write about when they should be doing something more fruitful, exciting, life-affirming. Hell, just something.
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) November 10, 2017
None of this could happen without social media because, frankly, adverts just aren’t that exciting, interesting or noteworthy. But Twitter and Facebook are full of people sharing the new John Lewis ad. Why? It’s a genuine question. Just ruminate on that for a second. Habit, tradition or – more likely – obedience.
Share this stuff, some massive brand says. And we share it. I find that sinister and the full ramifications of this have become clear in the last two years when it’s become very clear that it’s extremely easy to motivate people to share your messages for lots of different reasons.
Give someone a message, a short video or a meme to share that gives them feels and you’re laughing, whether your ultimate goal is to encourage them to buy an expensive pepper grinder or, say, propagate racial hatred.
So I blame John Lewis for its small part in demonstrating to lunatics, fascists and racists how easy people are on social media to manipulate.
Here’s a tweet from Kate Lawler, someone who is most famous to me for being on Big brother in 1973, where she dutifully hashtags and @s the living shit of the new ad.
I don't know what excites me more….. Hearing @Guy_Garvey and @Elbow on the #johnlewischristmasadvert or that #MozTheMonster isn't as scary as we all thought he was going to be….. https://t.co/715nxVz6CM
— Kate Lawler (@katelawler) November 10, 2017
Is she being paid for this. And if not, why is she sharing this crap?
And newspapers. Newspaper promoting free advertising that ensures they won’t get a cut of any of that advertising cash in the hope that the clicks and bumper ads they stick in front of the John Lewis ad somehow makes up for the fact they’re slitting their own throats. Thank God we have the newspapers and their desperate, breathless cheerleading for a company that has learned to bypass them completely.
The whole thing has become almost cultish. A refusal to join in with the Christmas Spirit – now indicated by John Lewis firing a starting pistol (probably costing £199) – reminds me a little of the fury directed at those who choose not to wear a poppy, for wholly legitimate reasons.
For me the arrival of the John Lewis Christmas Advert is a totem for easily led people are – and how willing to submit themselves to groupthink they are. But let’s not worry about that, there’s a John Lewis advert to be shared.
— John Lewis & Partners (@jlandpartners) November 10, 2017