Sunday, February 3, 2008

Apple's "1984" Microsoft Computer Commercial


This commercial first aired during the Superbowl in 1984. In terms of content, the ad begins in a gray and futuristic setting. Clips of a line of uniformly marching men, a radiant blonde woman carrying a hammer, and a number of masked men carrying weapons are shown to the audience. Fragments of an extended and unspecified speech can be heard from the beginning of the movie, and soon we discover the source: crowds of the marching men in gray are shown to congregate in front of a "Big Brother" speaking to them through a giant television screen. It is at this point we see that the men in black are pursuing the blonde woman who is apparently attempting to avoid capture. Caught in a blank and zombie-like trance, the men in gray are freed from Big Brother's spell when the the blonde woman hurls her gigantic sledge hammer into the television screen and destroys it in a brilliant explosion. At this point, the commercial ends with the ominous message: "On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like 1984 [the book]."

Consider the following commercial aired a year before this one by Microsoft's biggest rival at the time, IBM: IBM's comedic Charlie Chaplin portrayed computers in a comic fashion; they are seen more or less as personal tools intended for convenience rather than necessity. Certainly it can be said to lack the urgency and ominous possibilities presented in Microsoft's commercial.

What the audience is observing in "1984" is nothing less than a battle between individual and the forces of oppression and conformity polarized into a battle of good vs. evil. The ad obviously takes its like from George Orwell's classic, 1984, and therefore creates a link between Microsoft computers and science fiction, counter culture, and fantasy-it sends the message that "computers are thge future" and "a technology for making dreams into reality." In the running blonde liberator, Microsoft identifies itself with the defiant philosophy of rebellion and freedom. The company makes a statement of individuality and virtue to combat the effects of socialism, abuse of power, and conformity-fear which it plays with in the audience it intends to exploit. Though not by any means explicit, the aforementioned liberaty alluded to in the commercial can be achieved only with the purchase of a product produced en masse by a single company: Microsoft.

1 comment:

sharmaine said...

It's NOT Microsoft. It's called MACINTOSH okay? geez