More Apple-Political Video Mashups

I haven’t written as much lately about political mashups, in part because the 2008 election cycle has passed.  But two recent ads by the Democrats have sought to exploit the rhetoric of some of the Apple ads to support Democratic candidates for Senate and the House:

The GOP Plan, by the DSCC, offers a relatively standard take on the Mac-PC ads featuring John Hodgeman and Justin Scott, attempting to identify the Republicans with “old” ideas. Republicans in Congress uses an iPhone ad touting the product’s applications to identify Republicans with a number of negative behaviors suggesting that there “is a rep for that.”

Both ads seem to work well enough, especially for politically-informed viewers, but I’m intrigued by the degree to which the relationship with the Apple brand seems so flexible.  As a number of commenters on Daily Kos (where I found the video) noted, the Justin Scott character often comes across as relatively smug, something the DSCC ad tries to dilute.  The “iPhone ap” ad has itself become the source of parody in a Verizon ad (“there’s a map for that”).  Not much to add right now–it’s very late on a Saturday night–but interesting to see these memes continue to evolve.


  1. Rob Rushing Said,

    October 28, 2009 @ 9:31 pm

    Those comments on Daily Kos are interesting—because Apple clearly worked very, very hard to prevent any possible appearance of “smugness” in those ads. Justin Scott usually appears primarily concerned for his hapless colleague’s ill-advised shenanigans, and several of the ads take a “PCs are good for X, but Macs are good for Y” approach. None is mean-spirited or smug. So where does that characterization come from?

    “Smug” is one of the standard terms used to denigrate Mac enthusiasts, evangelists or fanboys. I’m one of them, so I’m fully prepared to admit that this appellation is often correct—something that makes Macs so seductive is a not-very-secret belief not only in their superiority as a computing platform, but a slightly-more-secret belief that that superiority indicates a kind of inner superiority on the part of the user as well. Being a Mac user, in this view, indicates not only that I have good computing sense, but also that I have good taste in general, refinement, and acute perception. Possible even a moral superiority. It plays itself out as an argument over megabytes, viruses, display resolutions and the like, but it’s really about superiority.

    In any event, I think the perception of Justin Long as smug is projection of a previous, and only tangentially related, stereotype. The ads are open to re-used from any side because they tap into a pretty basic narrative scenario, and a fairly archetypal structure, one no different from the Odd Couple. It’s classic doubling, where one long-suffering character, cringing, watches their rather foolish partner get into yet another scrape: think Quixote/Panza, Aubrey/Maturin, ….

  2. Carrie Thatcher Said,

    October 28, 2009 @ 10:54 pm

    HI Chuck,

    I’m off topic here, but I posted a comment on your John Dennis Fitzgerald blog topic of 2004. I’ve created a website about my 9 years of research and have just begun a blog with more information.

    Please drop by, ask questions, so on. If you have any email addresses from the commentors could you please notify them.


  3. Chuck Said,

    October 31, 2009 @ 4:03 pm

    Yeah, but even while the Justin Long character tries to be nice, he is able to do so precisely because (deep down) he knows he is better. I’m not (yet) a Mac person (though I may be soon), but it’s somewhat easy to project those attitudes onto his character, even if Long’s performance tries to work against that.

    It is a classic doubling (Oscar/Felix, Ernie/Bert, etc), which makes it so flexible for adaptations that are intended for both political and humorous effect (to name only a couple).

    Sorry for not replying sooner; somehow I missed this comment until now.

  4. Chuck Said,

    November 1, 2009 @ 11:04 am

    Hi Carrie,

    My email notifications bout the blog had a hiccup, so I missed your comment, too. Thanks for the update on the “Great Brain” site. I appreciate all of the research you’ve done. Good luck with the site.

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