Apple’s latest marketing “effort” demonstrates how much contempt it has for the arts

If an asteroid is going to crash into the planet and destroy us like one did to the dinosaurs, I do hope it at least does us all a favour and lands in the middle of Silicon Valley.

10 mins read

Earlier this week Apple shared a promotional video for its new iPad Pro. The “thinnest product we’ve ever created,” Tim Cook boasted. “The most advanced display we’ve ever produced, with the incredible power of the M4 chip!”

This should have been slam dunk hype train bait. The iPad is a good product category. A thinner iPad with a better screen and more power is a great idea.

And yet the response has been incredibly negative. Even angry. Why?

“Just imagine all the things it’ll be used to create,” Tim Cook added in a tweet. The promotional video in question? Footage of a compactor destroying musical instruments, record players, painting tools, arcade cabinets and other symbols of creativity.

It’s easy to understand how a Silicon Valley tech company, overwhelmingly populated by capitalists, STEM specialists and MBA holders, would think this is a good idea. They’re compacting all those artists’ tools into a single device, a fraction of the size and weight. Look at all that innovation replacing the need for dusty old tools. Who would want to use those, after all? Technology has replaced the need for them!

The problem is that people, and especially artists, happen to have an emotional connection to those tools that the technologists have decided would be fun and entertaining to destroy.

Here’s the thing: Technologists have spent so long sharing a lift, sharing one another’s farts and breathing in the ambience to the point that they’re high on it. They’re all thoroughly convinced that they own humanity’s destiny. In the eyes of technologists, the only good is (profitable) technology that we, as people, must inherently love because it makes us more productive and efficient.

To companies like Apple, music isn’t an experimental thing. Instruments are just analogue tools, and technology is inherently superior at creating that content for consumption. People who go out of their way to buy vinyl records and old arcade games are downright alien to Apple. They’re the valueless laggards that are prime for disruption. And why waste money on paints and supplies? Why limit yourself to a single canvas like the weird creep that painted the Mona Lisa (it’s actually a small painting and not very much content at all). Technology lets you have unlimited files, stored in the cloud, for a very modest price each month! It’s better!

Hell, why even have humans involved involved at creativity all? Apple’s got AI on the way. We’ll be getting that M4 chip spitting out endless content files for consumption very soon.

That marketing video, by Apple, is perhaps the most blatant example of the techno-dystopia that we’re heading into. It’s exactly the kind of thing that cyberpunk (the genre) warned us about.

Unfortunately thanks to capitalism getting its claws into cyberpunk, because Apple’s video doesn’t have any tattoos and rad-cool neon robot body bits, the warnings will be handwaved away yet again. People only enjoy cyberpunk when it’s an aesthetic. No one takes the warnings seriously. Apple’s going to release that iPad, it’ll sell like crazy, the video’s going to be forgotten, and Silicon Valley will again be vindicated for undermining our humanity.

Seriously, F*** Silicon Valley

I first came across that marketing video because it did the rounds around Japanese Twitter very quickly after Tim Apple spat it out.

See, in Japan, their native religion is called “Shinto” (no, not anime). One of the core beliefs in Shinto is that everything has a soul. Even inanimate things. That’s why the Japanese have created entire art forms that are dedicated towards fixing broken things (Kintsugi).

It’s a beautiful moral position within a beautiful faith, and within the beauty is a very simple message: Respect stuff. If you tear a page out of a book, then you’re not respecting the tree that died to produce the paper, or the people that worked on the words. So don’t do it. Just like people, two copies of the same book have different destinies. One might travel the world with its owner and be a precious possession loaded with memories. The other might be traded around a group of friends to share the joy of its words. These things need to be celebrated for what they add to the world. Not destroyed.

Similarly, you’re not respecting a piano when you have a compactor destroy it. Someone crafted that piano, using generations of knowledge in the art of piano making. People may have learned music on that specific piano. It might have helped someone get through tough times. It has memories and meaning baked right there into it.

When you destroy these things you trash the meaning behind them. The Japanese people – who very much love their technology – would never think of producing a marketing video like what Apple did, because it just so disrespectful to the way that they are brought up, and how they look at the world. The Japanese have found ways to carefully balance technology and innovation with a respect for heritage and tradition.

Unfortunately because Silicon Valley is located in a cultural wasteland of a nation that doesn’t respect anything unless it can drain money out of it, and is also the dominant centre of technology in the world, we do get videos like these, they get seen tens of millions of times, and then other people join the Silicon Valley dweebs in the lift, breathing in the good gases.

The fundamental contempt that Silicon Valley has driven through Western technology industries around the world goes far beyond Apple. From streaming services that have no respect for artists and their work (beyond the money that can be exploited from them) to AI, which has no respect for the humanity in the creation of art, through to blockchains and NFTs, which have no respect for the planet, we are seeing the strongest argument for humanities being mandatory education.

Because of these barely literate STEM graduates and MBA capitalists actually had humanities degrees they might at least understand what they’re destroying.

Sadly, while I say that, I’m also quite sure that understanding the damage they’re inflicting on the world wouldn’t actually stop them from doing it. The entire executive layer of the Western technology industry is pure, unfiltered psychopathy. It’s not just Apple, and not even just Apple this week. This is also why a company like Microsoft can shut down entire studios filled with artists and put the people out on the street. Regardless of the creativity and even good sales of the studios. Regardless of the souls of the art that they made. For entirely arbitrary reasons Microsoft decided to keep the IP (for future capitalistic exploitation) while trashing the artists. Yes, while this article is fuming at Apple, don’t think I missed that you did that this week as well, Microsoft. F*** you, too.

Tim Apple Cook, you owe the entire art world an apology. But as we all know, that’s not going to happen. You’d have to respect the people you’ve insulted to feel the need to apologise to them. And you, like your company and the entire technology industry, have zero respect.

Matt S. is the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of DDNet. He's been writing about games for over 20 years, including a book, but is perhaps best-known for being the high priest of the Church of Hatsune Miku.

Previous Story

Battle through bite-sized bits from 13 classic blockbuster games in Nintendo World Championships: NES Edition

Next Story

Field of Glory: Kingdoms looks set to be a time sink (in the best way)

Latest Articles