Sunday, 2 December 2012


I watched the latest John Lewis advert last night; the one with the snowmen. It is, I declare rashly, one of the finest adverts I've seen; a very beautiful short, almost entirely lacking in branding, but utterly memorable. Exactly as adverts should be in my view and I'm plainly not the only one as the ad has garnered 2.5million hits on YouTube.

Remarkable, though this figure is, the film is still subject to the inane ramblings of the faceless, nameless imbeciles who always feel obliged to make insulting and nonsensical comments on these sorts of forums. 

"I don't get it," writes one emotionally crippled drongo, "it's just a film about a snowman walking for miles to buy his snowman girlfriend a pair of gloves." And in that one sentence, our friend succinctly sums up exactly why the advert touched me so deeply. 

Of course, after a while, these comment forums invariably descend into name-calling, mud-slinging and general illiteracy. You know there's a problem when someone misspells the word "shit."

It certainly makes me wonder what goes through the minds of people who obsessively watch films they don't like, seemingly just to think of terrible things to write about them, all the time, or course, hiding behind their pseudonym tag. 

I've suffered my fair share of these kind of inadequate musings over the years. They're usually attached to the more upbeat tongue-in-cheak musicals that I make for the BBC, and more often than not come from people who have entirely missed the point of a community musical whose primary aim is to bring people together and allow them to have a bit of fun doing something they've never done before. Process rather than end product. 

I've always argued that no-one objects to a well-considered, witty diss, so when Metro: The Musical was described as "the worst thing to happen to the North East since Thatcher," I laughed. Also, after the mayhem that Thatcher caused in the region, I'm relieved the writer feels that the North East has obviously had such an easy subsequent ride. 

I was also fairly amused at the comment about Coventry Market: the musical, which asked, "who wrote these lyrics? A gimp?" Although this particular remark is bordering on the, "your Mum smells of wee..." type of insult. In fact, very recently, someone wrote of Metro, "I once had a turd which sounded better than this..." Put this man on the stage! He's got a talented arse! 

I was less amused, however, to read the rumour that Metro had cost £200k to make, as it opens up the BBC, to yawnsome arguments about wasting license fee payers' money. I think the BBC waste my license fee every time they show the football, but keep quiet because I know that some people love it.

I think it's when things get uber personal that I begin to draw the line. 

One man sent many messages suggesting that anyone reading should email me to tell me how disgraceful it is that I make a living "making crap". I would add that this particular call to arms from Biglips88 was entirely ignored, by Biglips himself, as no one has so far emailed me. Come on Biglips, put your money where your mouth is! 

There was, of course, also Burtisitart, a frustrated artist, who even recorded his own film telling me to get out of Yorkshire before making A Symphony for Yorkshire. I wouldn't have minded, but he went on a six month crusade on every chat forum known to man to try to encourage people that only a Yorkshire-based composer should be able to write an anthem to Yorkshire, holding up Ilkley Moor Bar t'at as a shining example of how things should be done.  Sadly, it turns out that this particular piece was written by a shoemaker from Canterbury, and A Symphony For Yorkshire sold an unprecedented number of DVDs for Children In Need.  Poor Burtisitart! Maybe he'll think of his own idea one day instead of wasting time feeling angry with others. 

But you know, every time I read a comment which describes someone in the film as looking like a "boiled egg"  or a "fat pig", or read a remark like "come on, thumbs down... We've nearly overtaken the 342 people who starred in this feeble cack," a little part of me dies, and I wonder if these people would be able to say something like this to my face, or any of the people in the films, and, if they did, whether they'd celebrate the sadness they'd created. 

There's even a comment from one of the Coventry performers who says she regrets taking part in the film, but did it "whilst she got her singing career off the ground," adding "God, why did my dad let me do it. Prick." Nice one Lottie Tottie. I'm sure you're a deeply credible artist these days and that your father would be delighted to  be called a prick! 

Of course, ultimately, all publicity is good publicity, and every time my films get another YouTube hit, I get a small PRS payment, so, you know, he who laughs last and all that...

One day, however, I'd love to meet BigLips, Burt and Lottie. I'd like to know what sort of lives they live, and whether they're happy. And if any of them are reading this, how about you come out for a drink with me? We could talk about the John Lewis advert and there's one or two other things I'd like to say... But to your faces!

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