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New iPhone Christmas Ad a Sad Commentary on Culture

Eve bites the apple

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Worried about being criticized over the dependency on technology? How about having to give a reason for those inseparable elongated moments with your smart phone? It’s okay, for Apple knows what you’re really doing.

In a 90-second commercial titled “Misunderstood” aired yesterday, Apple shows a family getting together with the focal point on the seemingly self-isolating teenage son; he stares at his iPhone all day. What could he be up to? What is he doing? I won’t spoil it for you. Okay I’ll spoil it. The following sentences contain *spoilers* that may take away the holiday magic of Foxconn assembled products. The teenager, despite missing out on life’s most important moments (assuming you find importance in family time) is actually capturing them via his iPhone. Surprise!


“Wake up in the morning feeling like iPhone, got my fingers on the screen, in my home, all alone.”

It’s normal to want to capture and document life (I am writing this on a computer and publishing it on the internet, aren’t I?), but is there a point where spending too much time with technology takes us away from everything else? Is too much a bad thing?

Jennifer Rooney at Forbes asked, “Are we happy that this year’s Thanksgiving and Hanukkah was Instagram’s busiest ever? This commercial glorified that reality. And I don’t think it is a positive message.” Rooney went on to write that this modernity of smartphone obsession is facing a “backlash”, adding that “restaurants offering 5% off of your meal if you relinquish your devices so that you have meaningful conversation with your family at dinner. Like my friend who got so fed up with her daughter’s 11-year-old friends texting–to one another–instead of skating at her ice-rink birthday party that she confiscated their phones. Like texting-while-walking bans.

Jonathan Salem Baskin, founder of brand consultancy Baskin Associates and a Forbes contributor said that the ad was “really depressing”, adding that it’s “about loss, not embracing the present (pun intended). It’s also really bad advertising, insomuch that he could be staring at any phone, and the punchline — use our equipment to record all the moments in which you don’t participate — isn’t really promotional anyway.”


Everywhere he goes, our hero is controlled by the machine. Or is it he who is control?

The average American adult spends about an hour a day on their smartphone. For teens, Washington Post says it’s: “more than 71/2 hours a day consuming media — watching TV, listening to music, surfing the Web, social networking, and playing video games, according to a 2010 study of 8- to 18-year-olds conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation.”

According to eMarketer, for this year, 2 hours and 21 minutes is the average time adults spent per day on their mobile phones. The phones weren’t used for talking.

Average Time Spent per Day with Major Media by US Adults

2010

2011

2012

2013

Digital

3:14

3:50

4:31

5:09

-Online*

2:22

2:33

2:27

2:19

-Mobile (nonvoice)

0:24

0:49

1:33

2:21

-Other

0:26

0:28

0:31

0:36

*includes all internet activities on laptop or desktop computers

While the future may hold human rights movement for designer babies or voyeuristic glasses that glimpse into one’s life, mankind presently lives in the screen.

This is the first time we see Captain Emo look at something other than his iPhone. Although it’s another screen he’s looking at, he has a surprise for everyone.

“I know I’ve been on my phone forever, ignoring you humans, but I have a surprise for you. I’ve actually been…

…watching you the whole entire time.”

“Is that an iPhone you got me, grandson?! Please tell me it’s an iPhone! Grandson, is that an iPhone?”

He was there during the coldest snow fights.

The ritual sock throw is part of our family tradition; when the son decides to isolate himself from the rest of the family, we kick him out of the house.

Suspicious or heart warming?

“You creepy little pervert! Were you watching us make love the whole time?!”

Apple touches our hearts with such cuteness.

I must have “Misunderstood” you.

Captain Emo smiles for the camera, revealing his true identity: the family’s son.

Mom was wrong this whole time, her little boy isn’t an anti-social grease monkey after all.

“My job here is finished… I must go now, back to my home planet.”

Pictures via YouTube

New iPhone Christmas Ad a Sad Commentary on Culture
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  • Rod

    Very interesting insight. Personal experience can be a great teacher!

  • Charles James MITCHELL

    The further asocialization of America.