Columns » Bob Lancaster

Mush.

Valentine's is upon us, mush is in the air, and I was just watching a TV commercial for the Blackberry "smartphone" from Sprint in which youngsters intone "All You Need Is Love."

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Valentine's is upon us, mush is in the air, and I was just watching a TV commercial for the BlackBerry “smartphone” from Sprint — a commercial in which some soulful youngsters intone the old Beatles standard “All You Need Is Love.”

I don't understand this: The commercial is meant to sell BlackBerrys, right? But if all you need is love, you wouldn't need no stinking BlackBerry. Unless, in the crazy contemporary scheme of things, the BlackBerry IS love. But that would contradict the Bible, which says that God is love. Maybe God only used to be love but the BlackBerry is it now.

Unless the intended subliminal message in the commercial is this: God and your BlackBerry and love are all one and the same commodity, and you don't need anything else, so you especially don't need to be fooling around with an iPhone or a Droid or any other make or model of newfangled electronic personal communications device.

From what I know of the contemporary Madison Avenue mindset, and from what I've seen of the current brain-dead cell-phone generation, I don't doubt a bit that that's exactly the intended message, and if it is you sort of have to admire the pitch — for saying something to your targeted consumer group by seeming to say just the opposite. The Mad Men understand the whippersnapper aversion to voices of reason and authority. Counter-intuitive I think is what they call the ploy.

Anyway, the youngsters sing “All You Need Is Love” in this commercial with great feeling, as if to show how deeply affecting they find the song's idiot words. I don't understand that either, or at least I hope I don't.

There are stupider love songs and love-song lines, surely the stupidest of the latter being from another Paul McCartney opus: “I don't care what they say, I won't stay in a world without love.” I always wanted to reply to that by telling the twerps who performed it, “All right then, twerps, adios” and then gatting them off to a lovinger place. Just a fantasy, but I always suspected that the jury, even if they didn't do a Huckabee and just turn me loose, would at least understand where I was coming from.

There are some good, useful Valentine sentiments — even some of the flowerdy ones are defensible — but “Love is all you need” is not among them. Because love is not all you need. Love is swell, all right, but you can't eat it, clean up after nature calls with it, or pay the light bill with it. You need grub, toilet paper, and moolah for that.

You need a lot of things, some of them more than you need love, even if you never venture outside of Beatleworld.

• When you've been out till quarter to three, what you need more than love is a good alibi.

• When suddenly you discover that you're not half the man you used to be, you don't need love so much as you need a PDE5 inhibitor.

• When you're at the end of a long and winding road, you need love less than you need a way to get back to where you once belonged.

• When you're sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the van to come, I don't know what you need — pity maybe, or a Valium, or a lobotomy — but love in that circumstance would be sort of a waste As a child, you'll need a modest amount of discipline, and you'll know why later on when you observe the behavior of those who never got any.
Also later on, if you have only one leg and you get into an ass-kicking contest, more than love you'll need either a surrogate or a prosthesis.

• You'll need to get to know a good plumber. You'll need to be literate or you'll find it almost impossible to cope. Sometimes you might need the jaws of life, and if you do, for the time being you'll need them more than you do love. Sometimes you'll need a little help from your friends to get by. Sometimes you'll need a small vacation. Sometimes you'll need an intervention. Sometimes you'll need a kick in the butt with a hobnail boot.

• And you'll have situational needs. For instance, if you're out in the yard and you see a funnel cloud touch down and head straight for your domicile, what do you need most at that point? A lot more than love, you need a storm cellar. You need Pat Robertson to pray it off in a different direction. If you were in Port-au-Prince when the earthquake hit recently, what you would've needed a whole lot more than love would have been to have returned to the mainland the day before.

• You'll need some lucky breaks. You'll need some underarm deodorant. You'll need socks. There have been people who lived long lives totally sockless — if you call that living — but things never turned out well for any of them. Well, except for Kilgore Trout, who as an old man created himself a permanent pair of unremovable socks by walking barefoot across a very shallow and extremely polluted river. In Indiana, as I recall. Had an argyle pattern tattooed on them there toward the end.

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