Or, “Where I Crap on Mac Users,” thanks to this delightful essay pointing out the class aspirations inherent to Apple products, cost, technology, and design. Consider this your daily flame.
…something that to me is so obvious that it barely needs mentioning, and yet I never see people talk about it openly: the real advantage of Apple, for many people, is that Apple products are status objects. Displaying your Apple stuff proudly is just yet another of our culture’s myriad ways to engage in a little subtle classism. Apple products are expensive, some very expensive, and they are often significantly more expensive than non-Apple equivalents. When I bring this up in cautioning people about buying a particular Apple product (even in the course of endorsing such a purchase) there’s a weird defenselessness that happens. People don’t disagree, and yet they don’t weigh that as a negative factor, either…
And that brings us to “Apple culture.” This is a phenomenon we’re all aware of. I can’t tell you how often I’ve discussed a potential purchase, of a computer or phone or MP3 player, where my frank discussions of features compared to price point get held up because of terms like “philosophy,” “individualism,” “creativity,” “personality.” You know– all the things that purchasing a commodity can’t give you? That stuff tends to dominate discussion of Apple products, and has been the essence of Apple advertising for years. There is somehow an Apple culture, and this culture is associated with all kinds of vague (but very real!) virtues. There is, according to many, a category of “Apple people,” and this somehow means more than people who prefer Apple products but instead has everything to do with a person’s personal virtue, and most importantly, how “unique” they are, a term thrown around about a commodity owned by millions with such disregard for its basic denotation that my eyes glaze over when I hear it. All of this stuff, this strange but inescapable reference to Apple culture, is just a way to hide guilt about the frank status projection that prominently displaying your iPhone represents.
I’d argue, too, that this kind of class signaling was prominent in VW advertising in the early aughts, and in more recent auto brand development for cars like the Toyota Prius. And part of the appeal is the whitebread Scandanavian design aesthetic that people really latch on to, Americans in particular, that signals the urban upperclass. And don’t even get me started on the choice to make Justin Long the Mac spokesperson, a guy who looks like he’s never had a hard day in his life. Talk about type-casting.
But that’s just me, and it’s the me that is currently in love with my second-hand iPod that my mom gifted me when she was on serious medication post-surgery, and the me that is in dire need of quality podcast suggestions in the comments.
In the meantime, the FRT, one night early because I “think different.” Videos below the jump.
1) Gary Numan – You Are in My Vision
2) Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – Answer Me
3) Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs – Devil Do
4) Q-Tip – Official
5) Black Mountain – Stormy High
6) Edith Frost – Playmate
7) The Fall – Lay Of The Land
8) Johnson & Jonson – Anything Possible
9) Women – Cameras
10) Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Sheep May Safely Graze
Sharon Jones’ voice makes me happy, and I’m encouraged by her story, she having been a working class woman who didn’t find creative success until middle age. Her backing band, The Dap Kings, have played with other notable recording artists like Rufus Wainwright and Amy Winehouse despite not getting enough credit for helping to craft their signature sounds. Here’s a sweet acoustic version of Jones’ hit “How Long.”
And for a more characteristic song showing their big Motown sound, see “100 Days, 100 Nights”:
And Edith Frost, who I love, and who is immortalized in this sweetly dorky appearance on a Chicago public access show singing “Cars and Parties.”
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