The John Lewis ad is making me cry but I can’t stop watching it
Every year this happens
Every year I want to hate the John Lewis Christmas advert and every year I try to hate the John Lewis Christmas advert.
You want the music to be too soppy, you want it to be “worse than last year”, you don’t want to end up calling your Mum as soon as it finishes just to tell her you miss her. Basically, you don’t want them to get you again.
Instead, every year it makes you cry. Not small tears either – these are tear bombs – fat, salty, unreconstructed rivers of emotion. By the time it’s finished you usually look like a person who has quite simply lost everything, you are a drained, you are a husk.
And it happened to me again this morning.
I saw #ManOnTheMoon going off everywhere and I rolled my eyes – outwardly to express to the world that I’m cool and glacial and way too much of a snob to get emotional at a mere advert but inwardly the roll was more of message to myself: here we go again Will, you massive, massive pussy.
There’s no need to describe the above. The style of these adverts changes but the substance – your emotional response to it – is always the same. The kind of sugary desolation you feel when you’ve been poleaxed, rugby tackled, ice picked in the soul by nostalgia.
This year’s advert is two minutes long and is about an old guy sitting on the moon and a little girl with some balloons. Ostensibly that has nothing to do with me or my mother, yet there I was calling her after it finished, telling her I loved her and that I should say those words more often.
Our lives are performance and being performed to, always. We have seen so many performances that we suspect everything is one. We think reality is as curated and as carefully managed as our Facebook profile or personal Twitter “brands”.
This year’s John Lewis ad stretched my heart until it started twanging. That’s happening everywhere, right now – a collective moment where there are no performances, where no one has to pretend everything is a hopeless waste of the short, painful years we’re given on this planet.
Between childhood, a place we ache to go again, and old age, a place we all unconsciously fear, this advert will break you – before you watch it all over again.