Skip to main content

Rah! The Good News According to Jack Wills

Jack Wills has a gospel and they're keen to proselytise you. If you're rich and beautiful enough or just prepared to give your heart it you too can live their dream - though really this is no gospel for the poor and the weak and the old and the ugly, this religion wont have room for you.

They pitch to the kind of rah students who make up some of the population of some South West universities - especially Exeter and Bristol... The Jack Wills gospel plays on the idealised picture of student life - lots of time, money, cool clothes and beautiful friends. Hard to imagine why they think that's appealing...

Their recent ad campaign was banned, as The Guardian reports. Jack Wills' Provocative Ads Banned for presenting a risk to younger teenagers.... not sure taking away the advert is going to take away the desire or the appeal though. The current controversy will only help their viral approach to marketing.

One of our interns wrote on the theology of Jack Wills earlier this year, asking:
Can Jesus deliver what Jack Wills can't?
"In the catalogue, people are free to have a Christmas party in the middle of the forest, or lounge around endlessly on an eternal summer holiday. There are no restraints on money or time. There’s the freedom of luxury- there’s a rich feast laid out- it’s left untouched, but that doesn’t matter, because they can afford the decadent lifestyle. There’s the freedom to be naked without shame, so to speak- they have the freedom to exhibit themselves without feeling any embarrassment.
There’s the freedom of fun- anything goes in the party world, going to an underground gig in a haze of neon, getting soaked in an impromptu water fight. This links to the freedom of independence- there are no authority figures in the catalogue, no responsibilities to be fulfilled. There’s even the freedom to be spiritual, if they like, as a girl ambiguously kneels prostrate on a rug remarkably like a prayer mat, or another reflectively looks out across the water. Finally, there is freedom in casual relationships, as this group of friends live together, sleep together, kiss at parties, wake up after the party together. There are no rules, no boundaries, just pure liberty. As Poppy Vernon writes in the Observer, ‘Jack Wills sells an appealing version of life.’"
One has to ask what kind of freedom it really is... and later in life, marketing sells on the security of family, is Jack Wills just a fleeting dream?
"However, while this picture might be aesthetically pleasing, it’s also flawed. The freedom of being IN, being accepted, is conditional. When you put on weight or grow old or just don’t follow the values of the popular crowd, suddenly the “freedom to be yourself” is exposed as false- the freedom of acceptance is only there as long as you fit the mould. For example, when Jack Wills was casting for their Autumn handbook, the successful applicants have to be ‘extrovert 18 – 25 year olds!
Girls, size 8 – 10. Boys, tall and slim.’ They act ‘We are only interested in people who can ACT, and are very outgoing.’
Being ‘potential Jack Wills model material’ means being within a tiny, exclusive fraction of the population. If we seek after this kind of acceptance, we’ll find ourselves becoming slaves to the whims of the in-crowd, and not really being free to be ourselves at all. Haven’t we all exaggerated certain interests or elements of our personality to look better, or covered over the characteristics we’re ashamed of?"
What's the alternative? Does our desire for freedom point to something better? Why is it we want freedom from shame? Why do we want acceptance? Why do we want intimacy? Are these things available, lastingly? Differently? What if I'm not fit and strong? What if I'm not one of life's winners? What if I can't save myself? And for that matter, how free is the freedom of buying into a £42 million turnover brand?

Perhaps, as a beginning, the Triune God would say, "I'm the fountain of life, yet those I created...
...have committed two evils: they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water."
(Jeremiah 2:13 ESV)
It's good that you thirst, but not everything can quench that thirst.
Rebel against the crowd and listen to the one who said "All who are thirsty..."

Comments

  1. Glad to hear you speaking into this - I've felt for some time that we need to do this. (I do like their clothes, mind!)

    ReplyDelete
  2. By extrovert they mean 'do not mind taking off most of their clothes on camera'? ;)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I did think the talk by our relay worker was brilliant and you quoting her here reminded me how well she displayed these truths and distortions of the culture we are in. Would love to hear her do it again :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Super post and much to reflect on. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

"Big eyes full of wonder"

Books. Fiction. Libraries. Second only to churches as are the best gateways in your community to ultimate reality and new possibilities.

Our local library has just re-opened after refurbishment, and I love that our boys have spent several mornings there during the summer holidays, discovering some wonderful new stories.

I realised a few months back that I wasn't reading enough fiction. My work necessitates reading a lot of non-fiction, a mix of historical and contemporary thinking, biblical studies and theology. But fiction is the cinderella. Easily overlooked, and yet able to awaken my imagination and show me the way things are meant to be.

So I've picked up a few more lately - bought and borrowed. Not every book attempted flies, and that's ok. These have been winners though.

Ink. This is Alice Broadway's debut novel. It's young adult fiction and tells the story of Leora who lives in a world where the events of your life are tattooed on your skin. Nothing gets hid…

Uniquely Matthew

Reading gospel accounts in parallel is sometimes used to blur the differences in perspective between the evangelists, seeking to harmonise the texts and find a definitive historical account of what happened. No such thing exists because every account is biased and limited. You simply can't record everything. You have to hold a vantage point. And that's not a problem.

Matthew, Mark and Luke take a very different vantage point to John who was of course an eyewitness himself of the events. Comparing the text of Matthew, Mark and Luke across the death and resurrection of Jesus yields two steps.

Firstly, the common ground. All three accounts tell of...
Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross…. · Jesus labelled as King of the Jews…. · Criminals crucified with Jesus… · Darkness in the daytime… · Jesus' loud final cry… The women who witnessed Jesus death, and Jesus' burial… · The tomb lent to Jesus by Joseph of Arimithea… · The women who went to the tomb on the morning of the…

Songs we're singing in Church

Christians are a singing people, it's part of what we do when we gather.

Our church meets morning an evening on a Sunday - normally using 5 songs in each service. So, over the year that's about 520 song-slots available. The report from the database system we use (http://planningcenteronline.com/) tells us that in the past year we've sung about 150 different songs.

Our current most used song has been sung 11 times in the last year, just under once a month. Our top 10 are used about every 6 weeks. By #30 we're talking about songs used every two months. The tail is long and includes loads of classic hymns from across the centuries, plus other songs from the past 40 years, that we have used around once a term or less.

1. Rejoice - Dustin Kensrue



2. Come Praise & Glorify - Bob Kauflin



3. Man of Sorrows - Hillsong



4. Cornerstone - Hillsong


Rejoice was a song I didn't previously know, along with a couple of others that have quickly become firm favourites for me: Chri…