The secular Christmas has its heroes. In the UK, they emerge every November in the form of competing entities releasing Christmas commercials.
Our UK cousins wait all year with breathless anticipation for who is going to put out the best Christmas commercial. This is just part of the over-wrought Christmas of the modern UK.
They like to tease us over here about Black Friday and the endless commercialization of the American Christmas. But they ain’t so innocent in their love of Christmas either.
Easily the most anticipated release every year is the commercial from John Lewis. That’s a department store, for those of you at home keeping score.
John Lewis known for their commercials that watch like mini-movies. They tell a story, draw a tear, are often branded as cute or cutting edge and a general fuss is made about them nearly every year.
This year’s ad is no different.
Well, yes it is. This year’s ad just seems to be pissing a lot of people off. The dogs of society are howling, so to speak.
That is pretty unusual for anything related to Christmas, especially in the UK. Watch and then you tell us your reaction:
Before we get to the controversy let’s put this first in context.
Elton John is an international superstar, not just a UK institution. They just don’t get any bigger.
I would just add that the Rocketman is no slouch in the USA either. Having grown up with his music and the evolution of his image there is a big separation from the Elton John of the past and the Elton John the world knows and celebrates today. In fact, that could be a reason why a biographical feature-length film called Rocketman is soon to be released.
And it is really the source of controversy behind the celebrated John Lewis video of this year.
Is this commercial really about Christmas…or promoting Rocketman? Did Elton John really get a piano for Christmas as a kid? Wait a minute…does John Lewis even sell pianos? Just what in blazes is going on here?
These questions, seriously, have the UK completely up in arms this holiday season.
For me, the question of the ad goes deeper than Elton John’s story. He is a controversial figure in some circles because of his chosen lifestyle and outspoken nature on social issues (but what star is not anymore?). I find it ironic that the video clings to 50’s-era images of Mom, Grandmum and home and family when Elton John, as a social trend setter, once eschewed such things.
But…whatever sells, right?
Oh yeah. That’s what it is all about. It’s a commercial.
Don’t forget that.