entertainment

John Lewis addresses backlash to ad featuring boy in a dress dancing to Stevie Nicks

"We believe in children having fun," says the retailer, as Stevie also gives her verdict

2021-10-15

Words: Jamie Tabberer; pictures: John Lewis

A little boy in a dress has revolutionised the usually-dull AF home insurance advert scene - with some help from Fleetwood Mac icon Stevie Nicks.

In the clip released earlier this week, the kid is shown ransacking his mother's belongings before tearing through the family home to a soundtrack of Stevie's solo hit 'Edge of Seventeen'.

It first aired on Channel 4 during a Great British Bake Off ad-break on Monday. 



The destructive star-in-the-making is seen knocking over lamps and vases in the one-minute clip, much to his mother and sister's silent dismay.

Titled 'Let life happen', the video has since generated almost 200,000 YouTube views - not to mention a mountain of criticism.

Before we get to that, here's the response from John Lewis, in a statement released to Twitter yesterday.

"At John Lewis, we believe in children having fun and that's why we chose this playful storyline for our latest advert," the statement reads. "It's designed to show the young actor getting carried away with his dramatic performance. He is not willfully damaging his home and is unaware of the unintentional consequences of his actions.

"If customers have Accidental Damage Cover with our Home Insurance, this would cover a range of major and minor home disasters - including unintentional breakages caused by children in the family."

"Delusional, woke, abhorrent hogwash"

Re the criticism: one comment on the video on YouTube reads: "Delusional, woke, abhorrent hogwash - the most sanctimonious, self-serving example of an advert I’ve ever seen."

Another says: "Male ‘expresses himself’ with zero regard for the negative impact on the females around him. The patriarchy in action. Clever work John Lewis."

A Twitter critic said: "Opinions on the John Lewis home insurance "Let life happen" advert? I saw sexualisation of a male child imitating OTT feminised posturing, who was also acting like a bully and vandal... And the mum and sister should just let it happen? Parallels to real life are shrieking at me!"

An article in the Spectator on the ad calls the child a 'boy-girl' and states: "A little child pops up, scattering the innards of the cushion he must have dismembered. He is of course a boy in make-up and a dress, because even home insurance offers now must be propaganda exercises on the mutability of gender. The boy-girl stares into the camera like he’s on a catwalk, accompanied by the loud clip clop of heels." 

Meanwhile, The Telegraph have published an article headlined: "Why the new John Lewis advert is everything that's wrong with modern Britain."

The author adds: "The retailer's home insurance ad is a vision of destruction that's peak 2021, but you can't criticise it without being called transphobic."

One person 'loves' the video, however - Stevie herself, who has shared it on her Twitter.