2000 Is JUST Like 1984 (8/2/00)

Okay, it's not like we should be surprised when a PC manufacturer rips off an Apple innovation. It's practically an industry membership requirement these days. We should even be used to those PC guys stealing something Apple came up with several years ago; after all, Apple's usually pretty far ahead of the curve. But to find that a PC manufacturer has copied something that Apple released over sixteen years ago, frankly, blows our minds... even though the product in question was actually developed for Apple by another company. We're talking about the legendary 1984 Apple commercial, crafted by Chiat/Day to herald the birth of the Macintosh.

While there have been countless parodies, homages, and outright rip-offs of the more recent "Think Different" ads over the course of the past couple of years, we were shocked-- nay, stunned-- when we tuned in to the GlobalPC commercial called "No Exit," as recommended by faithful viewer Navarro Parker. While it starts out quite innocently, showing a woman struggling with her PC (the Zip disk smacking her in the head is classic), soon it starts to feel strangely familiar: an ominous talking head appears in a window on her screen, first spouting tech support gibberish, but then reciting some very Orwellian dogma. Soon his face grows to fill the screen, and the screen grows to fill the room-- as The Face shifts into full-on NewSpeak mode: "Complexity is Simplicity." The room is bathed in a cold, blue light, and harsh white computer text overlays The Face as it indoctrinates.

The woman (an attractive blond one; imagine that) then hurls a wooden chair, which arcs gracefully through the air. It punches though the screen, which explodes in a blaze of expensive TV pyrotechnics. And a deep male voiceover intones, "This year you will discover a computer that actually is easy to use. The GlobalPC. The wait is over."

Oh, puh-lease.

We can hear the defense already: "Apple's attractive blond woman throws a sledgehammer through her oppressive giant talking-head computer screen. Our attractive blond woman throws a chair. Not the same thing at all." Good artists borrow, great artists steal, and cheesy PC makers are neither-- so they trace. Many consider the 1984 as to be the best TV commercial of all time. The GlobalPC ad is a charcoal rubbing.

Seriously, there was a very distinctive emotional gut reaction we received upon viewing this commercial-- and it's one we recognize distinctly. We last experienced it when we saw the photos of the first iMac rip-off, the E-Power. It's probably best described as "righteous indignation coupled with utter disbelief at the sheer gall of the perpetrators, coupled with an eye-roll so severe we've sprained our ocular muscles." Don't take our word for it; watch 'em both and make your own call. But if you find steam shooting out of your ears while you stare at your own frontal lobes, don't say we didn't warn you.

SceneLink (2455)
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The above scene was taken from the 8/2/00 episode:

August 2, 2000: Slow news day? CNET's Mac reporters are so desperate for news that they actually wrote an in-depth report on the lack of CD-RW drives in Apple computers. Meanwhile, an outfit called GlobalPC decides to raid Apple's ad cupboard, and columnist Hiawatha Bray has clearly been absorbing just a little too much RDF lately...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 2456: Definition: Slow News Day (8/2/00)   The infamous "Apple Vacuum" has struck, and we're not talking about some translucent, swoopy Jonathan Ive-designed carpet cleaner that generates suction via fanless convection cooling. (Although that does sound cool; anyone up for an Apple-Oreck collaboration?)...

  • 2457: Steve Is All, All Is Steve (8/2/00)   This scene was originally scheduled for yesterday's episode, but Steve Ballmer's public declaration that "Linux = Communism" posed far too great an opportunity for us to pass up. So, like the National Spelling Bee champion waiting in the green room when George Clooney does a surprise walk-on appearance on Leno, it got bumped...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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