John Lennon shills the OLPC

Cadaverous hand stretched taut and skittering with beetles from the loam of the grave, John Lennon shills the OLPC, with Yoko Ono’s consent. It’s terrible. And not just plain terrible: we’re talking “cutting out the mouth on a standard picture and then holding it in front of your face while you do a John Lennon impression” terrible here. That Lennon appears to be pervertedly smirking throughout doesn’t help matters.

Worse, it’s nonsensical. “Imagine every child no matter where in the world they were could access a universe of knowledge. They would have a chance to learn, to dream, to achieve anything they want.” Universe of knowledge certainly has a grand and poetic feel to it, but as an achievable goal, it means nothing: what, you mean something besides the universe of knowledge we were all squirted into post-utero? Dimensional transport, perhaps.

And then: “I tried to do it through my music.” Failwhale, Mr. Lennon. I’m not saying that you didn’t write some pretty awesome songs, but I wouldn’t say “Strawberry Fields Forever” encompasses the sum of all human knowledge or anything. Somehow, the spot manages to cheapen both the woefully compromised OLPC initiative and John Lennon’s legacy. This couldn’t have been anyone’s intent.

Resurrecting the dead to shill modern products is not going to catch on. Digitally, it’s creepy, and reeks of defilement no matter how well done: celebrity muff diving gone necrophile, with long licks down the furrow of the uncanny valley. There’s something inherently more loathsome about Lennon’s OLPC commercial, though, than Fred Astaire dancing with a vacuum cleaner. What is it that makes the former seem so much more cynical than the latter?

Lennon stars in TV laptop advert [BBC]

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21 Responses to John Lennon shills the OLPC

  1. Anonymous says:

    As I see it, the OLPC project has completely succeeded.

    I’m basing this on a talk Nick Negroponte gave at linuxworld when he first started the project (I would be the obnoxious heckler who told the geek audience to forget about computers and adopt a child; there’s probably video somewhere. Not my best rant though).

    Negroponte, in response to someone predicting that the project would just cause mainstream PC builders to drop their prices massively and start offering portable machines with “bare minimum useable” specs, said simply “then I win. I just want to have something better to distribute to the children than what I can get now. I don’t care who makes them or who profits by them; I want to be able to use laptops to help improve education in the regions where I am working.”

    Paraphrased from memory, obviously. But he was sincere. He’d been buying used laptops off eBay and loading them with linux, but they were not robust enough or cheap enough for his target recipients.

    –Charlie

  2. shutz says:

    Funny you should pick “Penny Lane” as your example. That was a McCartney song. You could have at least picked its flipside and counterpart, “Strawberry Fields Forever”.

    For the rest, I feel similarly about this. And if you want to know why this Lennon necroshill seems more cynical, it’s because Lennon worked hard to be more than just a sell-out entertainer, whereas it’s all Astaire ever was (even though he was one of the great entertainers of his time.)

  3. John Brownlee says:

    Corrected the song reference, Shutz! Thanks.

    I don’t think it’s fair to qualify Fred Astaire as more of a sell-out than Lennon. Astaire was a consummate entertainer, but that doesn’t make him a “sell out.”

  4. Anonymous says:

    I think the pharmaceutical companies should necroshill Marilyn Elvis and all the others that loved their products to death.

  5. Pauliebaby says:

    I braced myself for a lot worse, i.e. Lennon in Forrest Gump, so I didn’t think it was all that terrible. Yes, it’s cheesy for sure, but I believe that John would have been behind this idea of bringing knowledge to the 3rd world as a possible vehicle for peace through enlightenment.

  6. moniker42 says:

    For whatever reason that they didn’t use McCartney or Ono’s real voice for this, it wouldn’t bother me if Yoko Ono authorized his physical corpse to sell the OLPC. Prop it up next to a stack of them.

    They are a fantastic bit of engineering besides a good idea but whoever this guy is butchered it.

    @ADB Srsly. Wakko Warner. And the Wakko Warner voice actor did it light years beyond this ad.

    The crime here is shoddy production not John Lennon’s holy visage.

  7. shutz says:

    Maybe sell-out was too strong a word.

    I think the root of my original statement had something to do with tension that exists between so-called “Art” and “Entertainment”, and how some “Artists” view “Entertainers” as sell-outs, or (as some of the meaner — and hungrier — “Artists” would say, prostitutes.)

    In fact, I’m personally more inclusive in my view of what constitutes “Art”, so that most entertainment is included. I’m not one of the starving, sniveling purists.

    Let’s just agree that Astaire mostly just left some songs, dancing and movies (he may have been behind some charities, I don’t know about that, but his main impact resides with the three things I mentioned) whereas Lennon’s legacy is incalculably more significant, to more people.

    As for what PAULIEBABY said, I think this is worse than Lennon in Forrest Gump, because the bit in that movie actually captured Lennon’s sense of humor, I think, whereas the present video actually involves using Lennon’s image to sell a product. Even though there’s a cause behind it, it’s still about selling a product, and that’s a perverse thing to do with Lennon’s image.

  8. moniker42 says:

    It is better than buying them a Coca-Cola, anyway.

  9. thermidorthelobster says:

    Before the picture came up I thought I was listening to old Ben Kenobi. I won’t be able to see a Lennon picture now without thinking “Use the force, Luke!”

  10. Chrs says:

    Astaire would have danced with a vacuum, and even if he wasn’t, damn well looked like he was having a good time of it.

  11. dculberson says:

    “celebrity muff diving gone necrophile, with long licks down the furrow of the uncanny valley.”

    I physically shivered at that turn of phrase. Nice.

  12. stumo says:

    Is that it? I was expecting he’d be on screen for a bit longer. Um, seems like someone took a good idea and added a lot of hype but didn’t quite get there with the execution. (If I’m cynical I’d say the same for OLPC – I’m sure their hearts are in the right place, but I’m not sure it’s as world changing as it’d need to be)

    Not the same as trying to sell a laptop, even one with a good cause, but this ad using the image of Bob Monkhouse (UK Comedian) – http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=RmWtzfKcMpA – both looks better and seems far more appropriate

  13. Anonymous says:

    Boy when John Lennon comes back from the dead and learns what “failwhale” means he’s totally going to care about what some nameless blogger said about something he didn’t do.

    Congrats on having and expressing an opinion!

  14. FoetusNail says:

    Yoko should have just done the ad herself.

  15. adb says:

    Why is Wakko Warner telling me that the XO-1 will let me talk to the spirit world?

  16. jathomas says:

    It really sounds just… Wakko Warner. I don’t know who they got to do the John Lennon impression, but ugh.

  17. debacle says:

    I was going to say that sounded like Kermit putting on a bad accent, but yeah, that’s definitely Wakko. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it wasn’t the guy that did Wakko’s voice. And the lip syncing was just terrible, made it look like “What’s Up Tiger Lily.”

  18. a_user says:

    “Somebody said to me, ‘But the Beatles were anti-materialistic.’ That’s a huge myth. John and I literally used to sit down and say, ‘Now, let’s write a swimming pool.'”
    Paul McCartney

  19. Blue says:

    Why, I would buy anything the puppet-corpse of John Lennon wanted to sell me!

  20. mightymouse1584 says:

    i think its more disturbing because hes not just trying to sell you a vacuum, hes preaching a message. its weird being told by a dead person how to live your life.

  21. OM says:

    …Yoko’s Approval = EPIC FAIL

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