Ah! Humbug: Complaining in Harmony

November 26, 2006

Customer feedback is the lifeline for business, but how often is it converted into something that the consumer actually wants. The rise of the Prosumer (the consumer that participates in the creation of consumer services such as Web2.0 concepts) has begun to make the world a more harmonious space, but I’ve not seen anything as wonderful as these two videos. The first is the Helsinki Complaints Choir, the second is their Birmingham counterparts.

The Complaints Choir project was set up by artists Tellervo Kalleinen & Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, who collaborate under the name: ykon. In their own words,

The complaints collected to the song can vary from small daily irritations into global issues. Anything that truly annoys people is useful material for the Complaints Choir. In Birmingham people complained for example about unfriendly bus drivers, dead bananas and slow computers. In Helsinki the most favourite topics were ring tones of mobile phones, people who smell in public transport and the fact that Finland always looses to Sweden in competitions. While Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg- Complaints Song was slightly more political from its content, St. Petersburger’s emphasized deep basic human issues like: “I complain about existential horror”.

“People come together at times of crisis”, was a great observation by a chap called Dan Jordan from my art college days. (No idea where he is today and even Google can’t find him..) Wars, disasters and holiday seasons, this is true. Yes, even the national holiday seasons are the great aggregator of the dear and loved: a time to share stories and show your support.

Yet Christmas carolling seems to be the urk of season. Admittedly you dont get to see them in London, but we do get the relentless Christmas jingles in stores. Even my favourite just-popped-out-of-office-franchise-workspace, Neros, was flooding quality coffee quaffing time with compressed sleigh-bells and usa-yuletime melodies – and visibly resulting in the dispersal of the punters. (Tomo – is it the same in Victoria??)

theholiday.jpgIf the Hollywood holiday barometer is to be believed, perhaps this xmas season should be full of slapstick – after all – the element of surprise is woefully missing from the season’s cliche of organised harmony.

Ok – it’s a religious holiday, and the coca-cola-isation of the season is someway to open up the festival to a wider audience; you don’t have to celebrate. But it’s a little hard to avoid the urban spam which has nothing to do with the birth of J.C. The perils of organised religion is far more consequential than the over-bearing encouragement for merriness that we see this time of year, but both close the opportunities for society to express their feelings and to open up to other forms of creativity: building upon the values that initiated these ‘celebrations’.

Building upon Dicken’s classic, here’s some words of wisdom from Blackadder’s Christmas Carol with Robbie Coltrane as the Spirit of Christmas:-

Ebenezer Blackadder: [after the Spirit shows him a vision of his future] So, let’s get this straight: If I was bad, my descendants would rule the entire universe!
Spirit of Christmas: Maybe… Maybe… But would you be happy? Being ruler of the universe is not all it’s cracked up to be – there’s the long hours… I mean, you wave at people the whole time. You’re no longer your own boss.
Ebenezer Blackadder: But, so, what if I stayed good? What then does the future hold?
Spirit of Christmas: Ah, well, I really must put my foot down here. I’ve got four hauntings and a ‘scare-the-bugger-to-death’ to do before morning.

And here’s the ho-ho-whole episode on Youtube.

Have a Merry Messy Kwelfnuve Kwesnuz!

One Response to “Ah! Humbug: Complaining in Harmony”

  1. quotes Says:

    These complaint choirs are sooooo funny.

    You can see how much fun they are having by the expressions on their faces.

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