TV

Sam Delaney: don't let weepy Christmas TV ads dampen your consumptive frenzy

With their mushy TV commercials, John Lewis and M&S et al want to remind us that Christmas is about feelings, not stuff. But what's wrong with stuff?

A criminal has his festive burglary plans foiled by Paddington Bear and winds up rediscovering the magic of Christmas the M&S way. A kid befriends the monster under his bed and gives him a Christmas gift from John Lewis before realising that the whole thing was  probably just his daft juvenile brain playing tricks on him. Innit nice when all these sentimental Christmas ads start coming out? They remind us that Christmas is about feelings, not stuff.

Only Christmas is about stuff really, isn’t it? Toys, booze, fags, Miniature Heroes, batteries, paper hats, Apple products, the fucking lot. I love it. Try as they might, these ads will never distract us from the wonderful tsunami of insane consumption that Christmas has always, and with any luck, will always be about.

What about the millions of Brits who look forward to Christmas precisely because it provides small respite from the constant anxiety, guilt and denial that defines the rest of our years?

Maybe the ads are designed to help stop us from feeling so bad about ourselves for blowing next year’s tax bill on Scalextric, Tia Maria and gammon? But what about those of us who don’t feel any guilt about that stuff? What about the millions of Brits who look forward to Christmas precisely because it provides small respite from the constant anxiety, guilt and denial that defines the rest of our years? What about the silent majority whose most precious memories of Christmas surround the demented 6am unwrapping of plastic Millennium Falcons and Stretch Armstrongs and the barmy imbibing of SodaStream cola and chocolate money for breakfast in front of Noel’s Christmas Presents? That’s real Christmas right there, a Christmas that the fancy-pants ad men – with their twee fantasies of a non-existent bourgeoise festival of cashmere knits and moderate drinking – refuse to acknowledge.

The closest any brand got this year was Tesco, whose ad showed a series of really rather authentic festive vignettes in a selection of households across the UK. One of them, mind you, appeared to be Muslim – which caused outrage among those who believe Christmas is, as Bing Crosby always insisted, an exclusively white celebration. Maybe they’ve got a point. I mean, I’m white and I don’t go around trying to steal other cultures’ celebrations. You don’t see me celebrating Diwali. In fact, whenever I hear any fireworks being set off in celebration of the Sikh festival of light I immediately shut my eyes lest I am accused of cultural appropriation by involving myself in their sacred tradition. I once had to do this while driving my car through Hounslow (a very Sikh area in west London) and I nearly killed a fox. But if I had it would have been in the name of observing proper cultural and religious boundaries – and the fox would have understood. Merry Christmas everyone.

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