Steve Jobs and the Legacy of Marketing

Don't get teary-eyed until you read this... Then you'll hate me.

October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs passed away yesterday. A lot of my friends have already expressed their gratitude for Apple products, and while I know that Jobs did indeed change the market and helped usher the computer revolution, I’m still a PC man.

This is not a slam on Jobs, people. I’ve used Apple products before. I had to while I was working with He Who Shall Not Be Named. I even own an iPod I like a lot. I can appreciate the simplicity of selling a product that anyone could use right out of the box, and I think Apple does a lot of things very well. However, I have one huge gripe with Apple products.

That would be Apple product users.

Apple Power by *theprodiqy on deviantART

Guys, Steve Jobs was a businessman and a nerd. He made and sold computers. Owning said computers does not make you part of the Apple community, some Borg-like collective of innovation. Using a Mac does not make you a genius. A Mac is not akin to the monolith in 2001. It is not a mysterious source of power that will grant you God-like abilities. Sure, an iPhone is handy, and there are many things it lets you do.

But it’s a phone.

I understand that a Mac is quite powerful and a handy tool if you want to work in film or graphic design. But it’s not THE tool. Back when I worked with HWSNBN, he had the latest, top-of-the-line Apple products. He could make gorgeous graphic designs and covers. He had the latest version of Photoshop and iMovie.

I could do the same kind of design on a four-year-old computer with a cheap Photoshop knock-off that was eight versions out of date. It took a few seconds for the filters and effects to render, but it was the same thing. I wish I could show the images, but Texas deer ranchers are VERY protective of people using images of their deer.

rainbow apple iphone wallpaper by ~MelissaReneePohl on deviantART

Look, Jobs was a very influential man. He was a very smart man who knew how to sell a product by making it more than a product and instead a part of the consumer’s identity.

So, with all the respect I DO hold for him, Rest in Peace, Steve Jobs.

And to the rest of you, stop trying to push your Apple products on me like you were cheap drug dealers. I’ve dealt with cheap drug dealers. Your pitches are no better.

Steve Jobs Potrait by gadgets by ~viruskuman on deviantART

High-Class Racism

It's offensive because brown people do it.

March 9, 2011

Ann Coulter may laugh when someone brings up racism since she believes racism no longer exists. It’s possible to say that we’ve cleared away a lot of the old racism, but racism is still here. Yes, we elected a black president, but that gets rid of racism much like going to college means you develop common sense.

It just doesn’t happen.

The wave of Islamophobia moving across the country, everything from the Park51 project, to the vandalized mosques across the country, and even to the new “high birther” comments from Mike “Selective Outrage” Huckabee, show that racism is alive and well. We once targeted Catholics, the Irish, and Jews, and blamed the country’s problems on minority groups with little to no representation or way to get their message out.

And if you think Islamophobia is just a legitimate concern over real terrorism, then please explain this video.

In case you skipped it, we now have video of two state representatives saying, among other things, that they would be willing to let Muslims go to paradise by force (do I have to spell it out) and that they were proud of the protestors.

Yes, I can see how you would be proud of protestors heckling and shouting insults at women and children a worthy cause.

Women and children… This was a fundraiser to build a women’s shelter and help the poor. Now, granted, one of the speakers was linked to the 1993 WTC bombings and has some anti-Semitic viewpoints, but does that taint the entire group?

I know Mexicans who would love to invade Texas. Does that make me dangerous radical because I too hail from the land of tequila?

Mexican Death by ~AidaDisguise on deviantART

Of course not. My anarcho-humanist tendencies and the fact that I know how to build an A-bomb with smoke detectors is what makes me dangerous.

And for the twelve federal agencies monitoring internet content, that last line was a joke.

Watch that video again. Multiculturalism is bad. Islam is bad. Muslims all support terrorism. Muslim men beat their wives. Muslims are pedophiles. Death is the only solution.

This is the mentality of the Far Right, but it’s only because the Far Right doesn’t mind being exposed. It doesn’t care what others think of it. There are people who espouse similar beliefs and cloak them under the guise of academics and logic.

Representative King’s congressional inquiries into the Muslim community are one such case of “high class” racism. It’s the same old, bigoted arguments in a new cloak. Make no mistake. These are two sides of the same coin.

Racism is alive and well. It just got a new suit and got elected on the Tea Party ticket.

Racism .. by ~HAZEMSHEHAB on deviantART

Let’s get some links to wash the taste of dumbass out of your mouth.

Apples and Another Euphemism

We're all naked under our clothes. Think about it.

WARNING: The following post is Not Safe for Work. View at your discretion.

March 1, 2010

Our brains control the most basic responses and needs in our nature: feeding, fighting, fleeing, and mating. The last one, other than the “fighting” response, makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Be fruitful and multiply! Wave your freak flag high! Drop it like it’s hot! Sex is supposedly like mp3’s. For every idiot paying for it, hundreds are getting it for free. It’s everywhere from advertisements to movies and music.

Recently, Apple deleted almost 5,000 apps from the iPhone store. These included programs that had everything from semi-dressed women cleaning your iPhone screen to women you could undress. There was no real pattern to the deletions since, for example, Sports Illustrated and Playboy kept their programs. The haphazard way in which Apple cut through the apps made me wonder about how many people think about sex and pornography, since this was the original justification in many people’s minds. According to Apple, they were responding to customer complaints about the sexual nature of many apps and how children could see them if they had an iPhone.

Oh, the children. Is there anything they can’t ruin for everyone?

As a society, we’ve long debated the merits of sex and erotica in art and popular culture in things like Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” and the various pseudo-sexualized Disney acts from the Jonas Brothers to Miley Cyrus. Lindsey Vonn’s recent Sports Illustrated cover had many calling out foul since they believed it sexualized her, but sex sells. That’s the bottom line.

Art has always had a deep connection with human emotions, and sex is one of the most basic. We know this because the same part of the brain that controls the fight or flight response also controls sexual desire. People have no trouble with images of war, but why is a hint of sex or nudity a bad thing for many? Many of these apps are designed to do one thing and one thing only. Killing Nazis.

No, wait, scratch that. These apps are designed to titillate and arouse. That’s it. I can’t speak for all 5,000 apps, but the line between legitimate art, application, and the smut some feel is present in the iPhone is a very thin one. The distinction art has long had to grapple with is the difference between pornography and erotica.

Porn is usually classified as the depiction of explicit or sexual acts for the purpose of sexual excitement. Erotica is the depiction of sexually-stimulating or arousing images and content.

Wow. I’ll take “Troublesome Overlap” for 300, Alex.

funny graphs and charts
see more Funny Graphs

By this definition, cheerleaders at high school football games shaking their assets would count as porn. A woman wouldn’t shake her body like that for someone unless she wanted people to observe and desire her body. The only difference is that the cheerleaders aren’t looking for sex.

At least not in any official capacity as representatives of their schools. What they do in their spare time is another matter.

Likewise, porn doesn’t have to be based on human physically. If someone had a balloon fetish, THIS could be considered erotica or porn:

In other words, anything that stimulates sexual thoughts can be easily classified as porn, and using sexuality to promote art in any way, shape, or form is bad, right? We can’t use sex, because sex is a dirty, filthy act you should only perform with one person you truly care about. I’m sure Apple did this with the best intentions, but you know what they say about the road to hell. As a writer and artist, I’d say that the difference between pornography and erotica is artistic merit, but then you get into a debate on the definition of art. It’s one of those things that’s easier to show than actually explain.

Let’s look at a recent example from pop culture. At the 2010 Grammy Awards, Pink put on the following performance. Watch it and ask yourself if this is a case of selling sex and titillation or if it’s art.

A nearly naked woman showing off her toned body with acrobatics while dripping wet and performing a love song… Porn? It’s certainly personal and in your face. If we analyzed it like we would a piece of art, though, I’d say the stripping of the gown at the beginning is symbolic of opening yourself to someone else, that by essentially appearing naked, Pink not only exposed her performance, but her body, to scrutiny. She stripped off the gown at the line, “Have you ever invited a stranger to come inside?” The water was a visual element for the song’s title, and the way the light caught the drops while they fell onto the audience created that effect of glitter in the air.

There weren’t any actions that could be taken as representative of any sexual act, and artists can appreciate the human body without instantly thinking of sex. The first time I drew a nude model for a class in college, it was late in the year and we’d become professionals in our own right. A body, like a word, is a tool for creating strong emotion.

How about *this* image?

come undone again by =mastertouch on deviantART

Certainly physical. Pornographic? That depends. Are we looking at its intent? Is it art because it’s nicely shot and isn’t about sex itself, but uses sexual imagery to convey a point?

What about this?

Weight of the World by ~ThePrincessPixie on deviantART

Naked bodies, emotion, but what makes these art and differentiates them from the kind of thing you usually have to provide a credit card number for on the internet? What makes these photographs art and the iBoobs… not.

Is it the juvenile “Bewbs!” response that separates smut from art? Again, that’s based on a personal response and not anything concrete. The iBoobs was one of the apps deleted from the store, and yet the above DeviantArt images are not only more graphic, they are of real people, real models, who use their bodies to make a living. The other is a digital effect of how a programmer imagines breasts move.

And right there we hit the first major speed bump.

One person’s smut is another person’s tease. Trying to regulate sexuality is a bit like nailing herded cats to a smoking wall. Or something. I think I just mixed three metaphors, but it doesn’t matter. Any time someone tries to object to content because it’s sexual, it’s not only easy, but expected you’ll find a gray area. While there are a few things most people, not all, could classify as art and classify as pornography, these extremes are difficult to pin down, too. Even if you do find the extremes at either end and decide on what is acceptable, it’s all still a matter of opinion.

I understand that people may feel objectification is harmful to women. Whether or not they’re right isn’t important for this discussion.

It is.

The point of this whole iPhone article is that most people will always have a concept of pornography, erotica, and sex that is either puritanical or non-existent. It’s one or the other. Were some of the apps in poor, even childish, taste? Sure. Should they be deleted because they are offensive? First, you’d have to define offensive and somehow justify Michelangelo’s “David” so we don’t have to tear it down. Then, make sure everyone believes sex and the human form are both inherently dirty and everyone has the same threshold for stimulation.

When you do that, for your next trick, I want you to teach Jar Jar proper English and fly under your own power.

By the way, if you want to view art, real art featuring the human form, check out the artist below.

LETS GO VIRAL by =mastertouch on deviantART