Is it Real Love?


Is it ‘Real Love’?

It’s that time of year where the remarkable John Lewis have released their nostalgic romance-filled very quintessential British Christmas advert – which you can’t help but fall in love with!

This year’s star is Monty the Penguin, who acts out the imagination of the little boy in the advert and yet poor Monty is a loveless penguin who desires a soul mate. The advert explores themes love while traipsing through the snowy filled parks and high streets of London, the song is a Beatles cover being sang beautifully by Tom Odell who is warbling away in the background.

Perhaps I’m over analytical or too cynical but I can’t help thinking that when you deconstruct the advert that ‘real love’ is being constructed and presented as heterosexual, all the characters kissing or showing affection are heterosexual and therefore any other love isn’t ‘real love’ is it?

During the advert you have a lovely idealistically presented young ever-so slightly middle-class heterosexual couple walking through a park arm-in-arm whilst poor lonely Monty stares on in envy and then on the bus home little Monty watches an older Black couple kiss on a park bench and then you see the little boy having his light bulb moment and come Christmas morning Monty gets his Christmas present which is another penguin called Mabel –  a slightly smaller female penguin who comes wrapped in pink and red wrapping paper in a circular hat box – lovely stereotypes of what it means to be female in the eyes of an advertiser!

Monty eventually gets to live happily ever after with the slogan “Give someone the Christmas they’ve been dreaming of’

Some of you by now are probably dismissing this and I wouldn’t blame you, it’s just an advert isn’t it? Did the production company behind the John Lewis advert have the care or forethought to think about the connotations that their advert has in relation to the song? Probably not! But it is interesting to garner the idea of what is being represented as ‘real love’ –  a very middle-class predominantly white one.

The only time I could see the potential for a same – sex couple being presented in the advert is the two women walking through the park. To note they’re walking apart from each other rather than hand-in-hand and then sat about a foot apart from each other talking on the park bench probably connoting they’re just friends. Is this just friendship or society’s/John Lewis’ expression of how lesbian and gay people conduct their relationships in public?

In a year that has seen the same-sex marriage bill (equal marriage) passed into law and advertisers in U.S such as JC Penney use representations of Lesbian and Gay families in their adverts, I’m waiting for the day that a supermarket or department store shows a gay couple celebrating Christmas in their adverts – If I’ve already missed it then pardon my ignorance!

Generally within the media in dramas, soaps and comedies the LGBT community are generally represented – I’ve avoided using the word ‘well’ as often stereotypes are reinforced or parts of our community are underrepresented or misrepresented.

So back to John Lewis and what ‘real love’ means, to me it transcends boundaries and it’s about showing respect, compassion, care and positive regard to those that we love and care about, this includes my family, friends and colleagues – perhaps next Christmas John Lewis will do the same and Monty might have his work colleagues, friends and family around.

Monty the Penguin can be bought from John Lewis for between £35 and £95 – turns out you can put a price on ‘real love’!

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