Our culture has been, for a long time, immersed in war, weaponry, and computer-aided death, both in reality and in our entertainment. In the midst of that, Apple has come out with ads that remind us what we ought to be doing with our fabulous technology. One reaction to that has been dismay and derision.
We know that the vast community of writers, analysts, critics and observers of Apple, or any other high tech company, is dominated by men. Men who are very nerdy and technical. And, as a general rule, those men have all the emotional depth of a lightly applied layer of paint thinner.
This is why, if their wives take them to a chick-flick, they retch, vomit, and run out of the theater in a cold sweat.
It's also why when confronted by the spirt of Apple, as portrayed in Apple's "Designed by Apple in California," series, the reaction is like a nervous school boy being kidded about having a new girlfriend.
This emotionally shallow reaction is showcased by Slate's Seth Stevenson in his critique of that Apple manifesto: "Designed by Doofuses in Californa."
The argument goes like this: Apple hasn't had any new products to brag about, so it has come out with this arrogant ad campaign that actually didn't do very well according to one consulting firm who surveyed "at least 500 TV viewers."
My surmise is that the ad fared below average because those TV viewers surveyed have been inundated for years now by the most blood lusty, brutal, violent movies ever created. After so much death and destruction in our contemporary movies, the first reaction by many male viewers confronted with something of any emotional depth must be, "Let's have a beer. Then go kill something."
The fact that the ad has done better with female viewers confirms the diagnosis.
Don't Kill the Message
It's okay for Apple to explain what its product design philosophy is and how it contrasts with Samsung's. It's okay to appeal to fundamental principles of human dignity, creativity, and maybe even a little bit of romance or family life and nurturing.
The fact that this ad generates squeamishness, in my opinion, is directly related to the testosterone-poisoned anger and snark we see in reader comments wherein there appears arrogant brutality, mean spiritedness, and anti-intellectualism. If something is found to be uncomfortable, then it must be hated.
Every day, we are exposed to the bad news of death, wars, guns and killer natural disasters. Applied to that, we pour on a healthy dose of lethal combat with aliens, apocalyptic disasters and vampire ghoulishness as entertainment. It desensitizes us.
I think the Apple ads gloriously remind us of what we ought to be doing with the technology we have at our fingertips. It's a bad sign when that kind of inspiration leads to nervous and irritable analysis.
Ad images via Apple.