Finally! The autumnal showers have passed, the naked branches are shivering in their frosty coats, and the John Lewis advert has snuck back onto our screens. Before the arrival of the chocolatey calendars, sparkly do’s and frantic family feuds, John Lewis, partnered with Waitrose (a festive first this year), get the Christmas bauble rolling with their annual advert which promises to tug at your heartstrings, albeit while capitalizing off of our feeble sentimentality.
This year’s advert tells the tale of a fire-breathing, well destroying, dragon who’s bulging eyes and wonky horns elate a hopeful viewership. Tumbling through a series of blazing trials and tribulations, Edgar is banished from any festivities until he uses his flaming nature to light a (Waitrose, I presume) Christmas pudding. It’s a quintessentially John Lewis-Esque affair, comprising of 2 minutes and 30 seconds of CGI animation and husky vocals. All well and good it would seem. Or is it?
Beneath the fogged message, which presumably is to look past someone’s faults in the spirit of unifying people, a few cynical scrooge’s have weaved their way into the Edgar conversation. The Guardian’s Stuart Heritage has suggested that actually Edgar merely wants to see the world burn, an arsonist on the hunt…
The question then stands, is Excitable Edgar an allegory for the murderous antagonists among our society, in Stuart Heritage’s words, will he ‘murder them and everyone they love in an orgy of unstoppable violence’? Or is the tale of Edgar a metaphor about unifying differences in this approaching period of merriment, something which is certainly needed right now.
I, myself, was taken in by Edgar’s charm and the sadness in his little eyes, but even I have to inject some cynicism into the conversation. Like Edgar, everyone deserves to be accepted, and everyone deserves a gift, but perhaps John Lewis’s emotional manipulation is not the way forward. As it stands, more than 14 million people in the UK are trapped in a massive swathe of poverty, 4 million of those are children and 500,000 people relying on food banks. It is likely that these people won’t get a gift this Christmas, it is likely that they won’t be getting a Waitrose Christmas pudding, let alone a Christmas dinner. And why is this? Because our government is grotesquely ignoring the austerity and poverty plaguing the country. Unfortunately, our current leader does not believe everyone deserves a gift this Christmas, they do not believe everyone is equal, and are certainly not trying to unify us.
John Lewis are enticing the country with their little green speckled friend, capitalizing off it massively (Edgar toys were sold at £15 before being sold out, now available for auction on eBay for significantly more) but ignoring the fact that the society at present is not like the idyllic snowy town the advert is set in and is actually a divided and painfully poverty-stricken place.
Image credit: John Lewis