|Art by Mike Lee|
ARTIFICIAL SOURCES DENY THE RUMOR that Apple Computer's “Think Different” billboards are in fact found objects — Gap, Calvin Klein, Levi's and DKNY billboards, for the most part — onto which were pasted the heads of Gandhi, Picasso and the like. In fact, each is its own sovereign board, promoting its own separate and inimitable line of products to citizens worldwide. Congratulations to Gandhi, Picasso, TBWA/Chiat/Day and Herb Ritts, respectively.
“Think Different,” together with Apple's concurrent Rolling Stones collaboration, “She's a Rainbow,” has been at least casually maligned by pretty much every Mac user I've heard comment; and while some are more passionate, more articulate or more pissed off than others, most of the estimated 50 responses I tallied fit one of the following four themes:
1. How incredibly arrogant.
2. Makes me wanna switch to Windows.
3. I can't believe the Stones sold them
4. It's sort of like pornography, isn't it?
If only it were pornography, for then we wouldn't have to see it. The difference between advertising and pornography, especially on the Internet, is that you are not required to look at pornography. Oh, it's there; still up to the same old zany antics (the man kisses the lady so then the baby happens). But by employing the technique of not searching for it, you can free your monitor of the diabolical flesh tones responsible for so many of society's ills and orgasms.
Sadly, you don't have this option with banner ads — the Internet's billboards. Go to one of those sites where you can watch others' search queries in real time — MetaSpy (www.metaspy.com), AskJeeves (ask.com), others — and notice: Millions of Internet hours each week are spent searching for results that could not possibly matter to anyone, ever — “Mason Reese” AND “borgaschmord” NEAR “underwood deviled ham”; and almost every batch of results arrives adjacent to a festive banner ad for such evil, upstanding businesses as banks and real estate firms.
Filth. Who is to say that the explicit graphic depiction of a 3.9 percent introductory rate that shoots up to 17.9 percent in six months (21.9 percent if you're late on one payment) is to be rated G? As our Constitution grants us the right to pursue pleasure but not the right to experience it, why taboo sexual objectifications but not financial ones? Isn't the objectification the verboten part? Are you sure it's a good idea to censor images of people screwing each other but not of people screwing each other over?
I'm reminded of a public art event done by Anne Bray in 1985. It was called White Out. Forty-two businesses adjacent to the intersection of Lincoln and Broadway in Santa Monica let Anne obscure about 500 window ads with white paper, cut to the dimensions of each ad, for one day (a Sunday). A few weeks later, I asked Anne how the participating businessfolk had responded. She said that someone had asked her, “What makes you think it's art?” and that she had replied, “What makes you think it's not?”
“To Exist is to Advertise,” reads the manifesto of San Francisco's Billboard Liberation Front (www.billboardliberation.com/home.html). “Our ultimate goal is nothing short of a personal and singular Billboard for each citizen . . . until that day we will continue to do all in our power to encourage the masses to use any means possible to commandeer the existing media and alter it to their own design.” Recommended: The Art & Science of Billboard Improvement (www.billboardliberation.com/resources/manual.html).
TBWA/Chiat/Day (tbwachiat.com/) has had moments more transcendental than the campaign of different thinking they created for Apple. In 1991, for instance, they produced a gem of a Jiffi condom ad that was aired only in Europe. Download a 1.7Mb QuickTime version from tbwachiat.com/product/historical_work/tv/jiffi_condom/
One of the reasons the word apple so easily adapts to thinkingdifferentness is that the Bible depicts the apple as the fruit of self-determination, sexual and otherwise. If the Bible were filmed today, perhaps a little product placement might be in order:
INT. CENTURY CITY LAW FIRM LOBBY,
Executive-style couple EVE (Kim Basinger, Janeane Garofalo or Whoopi Goldberg), ADAM (any Baldwin, Flavor Flav or Jerry Seinfeld) and an apparent PRIEST (Abe Vigoda, Samuel L. Jackson or Mason Reese) sit side by side on a spacious white leather COUCH. Eve types away at her POWERBOOK G3 WITH 192MB RAM, AN 8GB HARD DRIVE, 14.1″ ACTIVE-MATRIX SCREEN (24-BIT at 1024×768), 56K/V90 MODEM, S-VIDEO OUT AND DVD/CD DRIVE.
Adam — check this out. This is fucking great.
Are you serious?!
JOHNNIE COCHRAN enters; the PRIEST stands.
FADE TO WHITE;
LOGO UP: THINK DIFFERENT
Have I left something out? Visit the online version of the award-winning And Adam Knew Eve: A Dictionary of Sex in the Bible (www.hobrad.com/and.htm), by Ronald L. Ecker, for updates.