There are two viral videos currently doing the rounds on social media, and every time someone I know hits the like button, I feel a small piece of my faith in humanity chiseled away, vacuum packed, reconstituted into saccharin, and then served in my local branch of Starbucks as I stare through the window with gorgeous forlorn eyes while the condensation from my shallow breath obscures the fact that I’m screaming for them all to stop.
I’ll start with a Woolworths advert (did I say advert, I meant sporadic flash mob) where supposed members of staff pay tribute to Nelson Mandela by breaking into Jonny Clegg’s Asimbonanga; a song written in the 80’s, calling for Mandela’s release.
Originally, I saw this video on Upworthy, where one of its contributors claims that they had originally planned to sing a Christmas song, but then just two days later managed to put together a seamless rendition complete with four part harmonies which wouldn’t have looked out of place if they had been sung by, let say, the Soweto Gospel Choir.
Now, a lot of M.P’s came under fire for using the great man’s death as a vehicle to further their own agendas, and rightly so. Yet UK store Woolie’s advert, which just happens to show queue-less checkouts, and fresh fruit and vegetables, seems to fly right under the radar. The gawping onlookers recording the entire thing on their iPhones feels like a spurious attempt to add some authenticity to the whole affair, yet leaves the whole thing looking about as organic as, lets say, a hydraulic operated crane which someone might need to get the aerial shots at 1.03, 2.20, and 2.30.
Another video doing the rounds is the Westjet Christmas miracle. The miracle basically sees a few Westjet passengers asked want they want from an interactive Santa at a departure gate. The twist comes as it is revealed that the Westgate staff is going to endeavor to get them the presents before they touch down in Toronto.
Given that it’s 2014, and I’d already heard a few people rave about it, I thought that they might avoid the more material requests, but no. When the passengers go to the baggage reclaim, low and behold, their Samsung Galaxies, and android Tablets are there waiting for them. There’s a particularly gaudy sequence where a woman is reduced to tears after receiving a digital camera; a woman who has enough money to pay to fly an inexplicable 80 kilometers between Hammilton International, and Toronto International. Another thing which seemed inexplicable was the fact that they all had hold luggage despite the fact that they were going such a short distance.
I got to about four minutes, and felt genuinely pissed off, yet seeing as there was only a minute left; I felt that my scoffing might come back to haunt me, and the advert did seem to build up to a climax. There was one present left, a poignant reminder of the real value of Christmas maybe. No, of course it wasn’t, it was a fucking 50” T.V that the entire family could stare at instead of talking to each other over the holidays.
Now, companies using icons of goodwill is hardly a new thing, and neither is complaining about it. My issue lies with the people who leave their messages on the message board. The trending sentiments for the WestJet advert seem to be ‘touching’. Maybe there’s something wrong with me, but I find the WestJet advert in particular about as touching as a pervert.