Mon Sep 11, 2017
I hate to be in the position of defending Apple evangelists, but there have been a lot of weird takes about the Apple leaks the past few days. Here’s one:
I keep getting tweets patiently explaining that revealing the details of an Apple event ahead of time is exactly like spoiling Star Wars— Andrew Cunningham (@AndrewWrites) September 10, 2017
Which I guess is a compliment for Apple’s PR team - people view an extended ad for a $1,000 phone the same way they view commercial art— Andrew Cunningham (@AndrewWrites) September 10, 2017
I think the comparison between Star Wars and Apple products is particularly apt because, well, Star Wars isn’t “commercial art”: it’s a meticulously managed piece of intellectual property. It isn’t a singular artistic vision: its the culmination of hundreds of stakeholders, producers, focus testers, and marketers. So much so that the director of a Star Wars movie just got replaced, like a poorly-performing engineering manager:
Lucasfilm and Colin Trevorrow have mutually chosen to part ways on Star Wars: Episode IX. Colin has been a wonderful collaborator throughout the development process but we have all come to the conclusion that our visions for the project differ. We wish Colin the best and will be sharing more information about the film soon.
The primary goal of a Star Wars movie is to entice audiences to engage more in the Star Wars universe: to create buzz, to purchase merchandise, to consume more Star Wars media. It accomplishes this by putting out an entertaining, easily consumable, but unchallenging product. (And, sure, sometimes it gets a little derivative.)
The primary goal of an Apple keynote is to entice the audience to engage more in the Apple universe: to create buzz, to purchase products, to consume more Apple media. It accomplishes this by putting out interesting (albeit comically self-indulgent) marketing material. (And sure, sometimes it gets a little derivative.)
I think it’s weird and unambiguously bad to complain that tech journalists are doing their jobs: of course they’re going to report on the leaks and of course they should report on the leaks.
I also think it’s weird to pretend that Apple fans are any different than Star Wars fans or Marvel fans or of any wildly successful franchise.
There are a lot of things to criticize about Apple, and even Apple fandom. But the act of just being excited about the new shiny things is, I think, harmless and honestly kind of lovely. There’s something so earnest about the idea of people being so excited to watch the keynote and see how their technology is going to evolve.
(For what it’s worth, I watch the Star Wars movies because I love big ol’ adventures, and I watch the Apple keynotes because I am a tremendous nerd. And I think complaining about spoilers is dumb.)