The Apple Ad Everyone's Crying About

Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - 01:42 PM


Apple has a new iPhone ad that's really an ad for the idea of smartphones. 

"Misunderstood" shows a teen who spends all of his family time during the holidays engrossed in his phone. The big reveal at the end is that he's been recording his family, and he has edited a beautiful video of their time together (in-phone, maybe.) Very emotional and tear-jerking!

When I saw Apple's spot, I couldn't help but think of that anti-phone viral video from August, "I Forgot My Phone." "I Forgot My Phone" was a montage of sad, disconnected people choosing their phones over the wonder of their own lives. Apple's ad felt like such a specific answer record to that, it's hard for me to imagine it wasn't inspired by it.

In their way, I think both ads tell half-lies. I mean, yes, it is literally true that your sullen teenager could be secretly making a heartwarming movie about how much he loves his extended family. But as someone who was a sullen, phone-addicted teen , I can report that neither I nor my friends were chronicling our family lives the way Apple's teen does. We were talking to our peers and ignoring our families. Also, playing Snake. The benefit of tuning out, whether you're a teenager stuck with your family or an office-worker on GChat, is that you can trade the conversation in front of you for another conversation you might rather have. 

And we've talked about the "I Forgot My Phone" ad before, but I think the central silliness of it's the implication that we don't have a choice regarding that decision to tune out. It depicts us at zombies forced to stare at our screens, missing our actual lives, which are an endless parades of sunsets and crashing waves.

Just to reiterate, neither of these things are very true. Phones are a nice way to fill tedious moments. It's rude to use them to jump into a more interesting conversation than the one you're having, but people sometimes do because people can be rude. 

Now all we need to do is broker a peace deal between all the Moms forwarding the "I Forgot My Phone" video and all the tech geeks who are blogging about "Misunderstood." No more phone videos! Peace in the land! Happy holidays!


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Comments [3]

Katherine Shurlds


Jan. 06 2014 10:37 AM
MKesten from Toronto

My wife has been making Apple calendars, Apple Christmas cards and, yes, a holiday video of our family for about 7 years. She shows the family videos every Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinner. And I always complain about the volume of the music she overlays. But my relatives are to the man, woman, and child grateful for what she does. And on my mother's 90'th birthday my wife again came through with an Apple photo album of my mother's life, friends, and deceased family members. And we all cried together. The way we used to cry together watching those old 35mm movies of Bar Mitzvahs and weddings. I love On the Media, but this time I think you've got the glass half empty. And nobody can complain that they've forgotten cousin Shelby's anniversary because it and everybody else's birthday and anniversary is on that damned calendar in everybody's kitchen all year long.

Dec. 19 2013 05:47 AM
B K Ray

Meh. They are both tools, tools can be used to build up or tear down. Some things need to be torn down to be built up. We like sentimentality because if reaffirms our connections to other humans in one way or another. So lets learn to talk out of both sides of our mouth and to accept that it is human to do so.

Dec. 18 2013 03:30 PM

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TLDR is a short podcast and blog about the internet by Meredith Haggerty. You can subscribe to the TLDR podcast here. You can follow our blog here. I tweet @manymanywords and @tldr.

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