Coming, perhaps appropriately, on the heels of yesterday’s review of John Lennon: The Life, a number of readers have e-mailed to ask my opinion of the recent “One Laptop Per Child” commercial that uses Lennon’s likeness and a digitized “voice.” If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s right here:
My reaction? Meh.
While many of the commenters on YouTube are offended that the highly-selective Yoko Ono would sanction the use of John’s image for a charity that hands out laptops — and there’s a lot of chatter on whether that’s a charity Lennon himself would have embraced — it’s not really the kind of thing that bothers me. Yoko is famously careful and tight-fisted when it comes to John’s name and reputation — even going so far as to stiff-arm Paul McCartney when he recently suggested that “Yesterday” be credited to McCartney-Lennon, rather than the more familiar Lennon-McCartney — so I wouldn’t presume to second-guess her assent for this particular organization.
For my part, I’m just not that impressed with the ad. Given that Yoko so rarely allows for John’s name and image to be used, I expected something a little more spectacular or moving. The brief and grainy glimpse we get of John in the final few seconds — with the Forrest Gump digitizing of the mouth — doesn’t really work. And the voiceover, while it very well may have been put together using actual Lennon clips, sounds to me like the cartoon version of Lennon from Yellow Submarine — or, better yet, like Paul Rudd doing his deadpan Lennon in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (NSFW, due to naughty language and drug humor…):
The heart is probably in the right place, but the ad just doesn’t do much for me.