Like last year I am the final person in the country (except possibly ex-NHS chief Phil Morley, Hi Phil! How’s impersonating Superman going for you?) to see the John Lewis Christmas advert. And like last year I can’t help but be a little disturbed by it. Here’s a quick run down.
A young boy owns a penguin called Monty in a house that doesn’t appear to be equipped to allow a penguin to live there. Penguins are complex creatures that require specific living conditions (like a bathtub full of cold water) and shouldn’t be allowed to just sleep on a child’s bed. The child has enslaved Monty to his all powerful will and forces the creature to carry LEGO blocks across a room. This enslavement of the penguin might come from the child’s (does he have a name? I didn’t pay enough attention) own lack of love.
It seems that the child is able to go for walks at the park, play football and ride the bus through dodgy parts of town without any parental supervision. Maybe forcing Monty the penguin to do his bidding is his way of lashing out at the world that has seemingly abandoned him.
Monty’s diet is also poor as exampled by the fact the child feeds him fish fingers. A penguin may not have the metabolism to deal with such a highly processed food such as a fish finger. Essentially all the additives and preservatives may kill the tiny beast or at best give him severe bowel problems. The penguin, being a animal, begins to, for want of a better phrase, feel horny. It begins looking at human couples showing each other affection and the penguin wants that. It wants to feel the loving embrace of another, it wants to feel it’s lovers heartbeat and it wants to become one entity, two souls occupying the same space at the same time. It wants contentment. I got all this from one deep look into the penguins eye, their tiny pupils are so expressive.
Monty’s human master picks up on his captives want for companionship and after deciding he won’t be able to give him it, he decides to purchase Monty a mate. Two things worry me here, one did the child ask Monty which way he swings? As we saw Monty looked in envy at the same sex couple in the park as well as the heterosexual couple kissing on the TV. Secondly, where did the child acquire a second penguin from? A ailing sea life centre desperately selling off its exhibits so it can feed the dolphins? Or perhaps it was a slave market for subservient, domesticated penguins that are purchased to be little more than a sex toy for a already imprisoned penguin? Neither option really bears thinking about.
John Lewis, whoever the fuck that guy is, has one more trick to fuck with our minds before wishing you all a merry Christmas. If “merry” meant “let society emotionally blackmail you into spending money you don’t have on shit you don’t need just so you can be in debt for the rest of the year”. The advert shows us the child (slaver of the penguin) waking Monty up on Christmas day and taking him downstairs where upon, to Monty’s surprise, another penguin awaits him! Cue happiness all round I guess.
But it turns out that Monty the penguin has been dead for some time and he is little more than a taxidermy corpse of the animal he used to be. The penguin that the child has bought is also dead yet the boy believes both to be alive. It puts a bit of a sinister slant on the rest of the advert as he is unsupervised while taking part in numerous activities. Not only that but he clearly has a mental health issue and yet at no point in the entire advert do we see him receiving help for his illness. Nope his parents just let him get on with whatever he wants to do and are happy to let him enter into a master/slave relationship with the body of a penguin that he believes is alive. Well at least it kinda explains the look on his mother face at the end which is one of resigned sadness at her child’s undiagnosed illness.
The look of a young woman unable to come to terms with the fact that her kid needs professional help. She is broken and allows her offspring to roam the town unsupervised while he drags the stuffed body of a sea bird around with him. It’s a cautionary tale about the dangers of avoiding talking about mental health issues rather than a Christmas message.
Maybe this way of looking at things is the reason I’m spending Christmas alone in my local Weatherspoons again. Merry Christmas