22 February 2010

John Lennon - Spinning In Grave

8 Adar - Year 5770

I don't know how many of you have seen this. Pixie and I were watching TV the other night. Well, she was watching, I was reading Vico's "The New Science". Suddenly, this is shown:

Yes, that's a film of John Lennon (it looks like it was filmed in 1968, around the time of the White Album sessions). No, it's not actually him speaking, but a Scouser impressionist. This seems to be so cringingly bad on so many levels to me, that it nearly hurts. Firstly, even if Lennon (hypothetically) would have those 'anti-retro' views, I strongly suspect he wouldn't have used them to sell cars. Personally, I suspect he would've enjoyed new bands using elements of 60s and 70s music in their own creations. But I don't know that, and neither do the ad-makers know if he would say "Do your own thing." Secondly, why didn't they just get an actor who looks like Lennon did in 1979, instead of using a clip from '68--it just makes the spoken-word part seem even more incongruous. Lennon may have been ahead of his time, but admonishing critters for 'being nostalgic for the 60s and 70s' in a film from 1968 just looks stupid. Not that most advertisers 'are' the sharpest knives in the drawer, mind.

Yep, just when you thought it couldn't get any worse for counter-culture icons being used to sell crap...this happens. I still can't get over Led Zeppelin's Rock And Roll used in a Range Rover ad, as was The Who's Baba O'Riley. Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze was used in a Pepsi ad...and I suspect that Janis Joplin's Piece Of My Heart has been used in an ad at some point. I also remember the 80s, when Budweiser sponsored tours by Eric Clapton and Genesis, among others. The early 1990s Nick Drake Volkswagen ad made me uneasy, too. I recall supporters of the ad saying "Nick would've liked it - he wanted to get his music out to as many people as possible." Really? In 1972, when he recorded Pink Moon, Nick Drake was so depressed, he could barely talk. I strongly suspect he wasn't concerned with selling cars through a commercial.

There was considerable outrage when Nike tried using The Fabs' Revolution in a commercial in 1988. It'll be interesting to see if the Citroen one gets the same reaction, or if using classic rock songs to push products has become so commonplace that no-one even notices. If Johnny Rotten can appear in butter ads and Iggy Pop is hawking car insurance, I suppose doctoring a clip of Lennon to sell cars 'is' just everyday stuff now.


Anonymous said...

When I saw this on telly the other day (having just flicked over channels in the hope of finding something of interest), for a few moments I actually thought they were showing a doc about Lennon or something...a few seconds later, I learned the truth and my heart sank. Yet again, our cultural icons are eaten up by the endless capitalist pig. How could Yoko Ono allow this to happen? Oh, yeah...money. No one has any scruples or taste anymore.

FLY AGARIC 23 said...

I often wish the McCartney School for music, in the UK, had a 'not so secret' secret John Lennon wing! Maybe Britain's most popular countercultural icon? Lennon studies?

Great post, thank you. I also recall the 'give chance a chance' I-Pod campaign by Mac' that sent me up, when living in San Francisco. Considering the Apple Apple wars at that time.