Apple's new ad met with widespread disgust and resentment over 'dystopian' messaging

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Apple's celebrated "1984" television commercial, which first aired on Dec. 31, 1983, depicts a bleak dystopian reality wherein shaved, uniformed, and altogether interchangeable persons file ant-like through gray steel structures and into a theater. Awaiting them in the dark is a giant screen whereon a Big Brother-esque talking head spews propaganda.

The Orwellian monologue is interrupted by a colorful and athletic woman, who storms in armed with a sledge hammer. Having outpaced her faceless pursuers, the heroine hurls the hammer through the screen, shorting the mass programming exercise and possibly liberating the audience.

According to the ad, the Apple Computer would ensure "1984 won't be like '1984.'"

This week, some 40 years later, Apple released another provocative ad entitled "Crush." This time around, in its confrontation with a colorful humanity, the standardizing screen wins.

Apple CEO Tim Cook shared the ad to social media Tuesday, writing, "Meet the new iPad Pro: the thinnest product we've ever created, the most advanced display we've ever produced, with the incredible power of the M4 chip. Just imagine all the things it'll be used to create."

Cook's creation theme was coupled with visuals of destruction — specifically of the various tools and means for real-world artistic endeavors and in-person activities that his new device will apparently replace and virtualize.

As with the "1984" ad, the 2024 ad, entitled "Crush," takes place in a bleak and gray setting.

Upon what appears at first blush to be a stage sits an arcade game, a piano, books, DLSR cameras, a tailor's mannequin, a chalkboard, various paints, a chess board, a guitar and trumpet, and a sculpture of a human head. It quickly becomes clear that this is no stage at all but rather an industrial-scale crushing machine.

Over the course of the one-minute ad, the crusher flattens and destroys to the tune of Sonny and Cher's "All I Ever Need Is You."

"The message seems to be that everything beautiful and analog that involves practice and focus is pointless trash, easily replaced by a disposable computer," wrote King's College London finance professor Patrick Boyle.

In the final shot, the crusher opens to reveal the 5.1mm thick, 13-inch iPad Pro. A voice-over states, "The most powerful iPad ever is also the thinnest."

The Drum indicated the ad was created in-house by Apple.

Meet the new iPad Pro: the thinnest product we\u2019ve ever created, the most advanced display we\u2019ve ever produced, with the incredible power of the M4 chip. Just imagine all the things it\u2019ll be used to create.
— (@)

Critics on X sounded off about the ad, many asking what the advertising team at Apple was thinking.

Fr. Steve Grunow, CEO of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, asked, "What level of hell did the idea for this ad come from?"

David Goldfarb, founder of the Swedish game studio The Outsiders, called the ad an "unintentionally perfect metaphor for how we are destroying beauty for profit."

Hugh Tomlinson, an English barrister and translator of philosopher Gilles Deleuze, tweeted, "The destruction of the human experience. Courtesy of Silicon Valley."

"I find this new Apple ad extremely ugly and dystopian," wrote King's College London finance professor Patrick Boyle. "There is no recognition of how artists love the tools of their trade[.] The message seems to be that everything beautiful and analog that involves practice and focus is pointless trash, easily replaced by a disposable computer."

Babylon Bee managing editor Joel Berry noted, "This is a sad and disturbing ad."

AppleInsider indicated that the possibility that at least some of the ad was created with CGI did not diminish the disgust most people appear to feel in reaction to the depiction.

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