Thursday, January 31, 2008

Taking a Bite out of Apple

One of my favorite episodes of “South Park” skewers Prius owners, who, in the throes of their low-emission, fuel-efficient smugness, create a toxic cloud of self-satisfaction that threatens to destroy the very environment they claim to be saving. Oh that the show’s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, would give Apple fans the same satirical smackdown.

Where the Prius owner silently demands that the rest of us bow down to his sacrifice—he’s given up cargo space and seating for seven in order to slow the melting of the polar ice cap, thank you very much—the Apple owner demands we acknowledge his superiority in all things cool, hip and trendy.

We get the message. PCs are bland and humorless—and so are the people who use them—the electronic equivalent of meat and potatoes and a suit and tie (or suit and sensible pumps). Apples are colorful and quirky—and so are the people who use them—the electronic equivalent of farmers’ market-frequenting vegetarians turned out in graphic tees and Converse All-Stars. PC means Bill Gates and the Evil Microsoft Empire. Apple users create subversive videos on their nifty software and post the results on YouTube. Simply stated: Apple is a lifestyle, not a corporation.

This is one bubble in need of bursting. Please, allow me.

If you haven’t seen the TV ad for the Latest Greatest Computer Ever, the Macbook Air, you will. As we learn in the commercial, this laptop is so light and thin, it could model at Fashion Week. Seriously, that’s the main selling point of this product—it can fit into an envelope or a Versace gown without the aid of Spanx.

But the real point of the spot has nothing to do with the Air and everything to with getting the catchy background tune stuck in your head. Let me hum a few bars: “La, la, la, la…la, la, la, la, la, la…la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.” These might not be the actual words but who cares. All I know is that every time I hear it, a voice in my head says, “Must. Have. That. Song.”

I am nothing if not obedient so I googled “song from apple commercial.” I struck gold with an entire web page devoted to the topic—it is, no lie, part of Canada’s Mac support site (official Apple affiliation not determined). Remember “Channel Surfing” by Feature Cast in the iPod Breakdance ad? Yeah, neither did I. Thank god for the Canadians; you can see how not invading foreign countries frees them up to focus on other things. It goes without saying that they were totally aware of the “la, la, la, la” song, which is not, it goes without saying, really called “la, la, la, la.” It’s “New Soul” by Yael Naim.

All that remained was for me to log onto iTunes where I could browse for my “New Soul.” Once there, I discovered I hadn’t needed the assist from our neighbors to the north after all. Because the iTunes home page already had a convenient little click-through box for the “Macbook Air song.”

Now some of you (Apple fans) might say that this is just Apple being thoughtful and nice. Gosh, they had no idea “la, la, la, la” would lodge in your cranium. But since it has, heck, they’d hate for you to waste your time googling “song from apple commercial” and bothering Canada when there’s really no need for you to ever leave the Apple universe.

Others of you (everyone else) might say that this is Apple being crafty and opportunistic and Bill Gatesian, if you will. Creating a demand for a product, “la, la, la, la” (I still can’t think of the song as anything else), pretty much monopolizing its distribution and, I’m just guessing here, pocketing a nice little share of the sales. All of which sounds suspiciously like a corporation, not so much a lifestyle.

Which isn’t to say that I didn’t go ahead and purchase “la, la, la, la.” It’s just that I’m afraid to listen to it. Because if I do, I have a feeling a voice inside my head will say, “Must. Buy. Macbook. Air.”