Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How the iPod Saved America from Being Sad Forever

It's the first iPod commercial ever. Contrast it with the "unplanned" "spontaneous" "expression" of "group enthusiasm" at the Microsoft store. Sure; to be fair, one's a produced advertisement, and the other is a WELL-produced advertisement oooooOOOOOOoooo! ZING!! BURRRN!!!22!

I'm thinking, however, about the success of the iPod product line, and the genesis of that success. Sure, the interface is great--navigating that much content with what is essentially one big button is no small feat. The form factor is simple, almost generic, allowing anyone to integrate the thing into their personal style. The ads emphasize personal freedom and joyful abandon and an unapologetic love of music and dancing to said music (and again with the generic thing).

This has all been discussed over and over, but the one factor I've never heard mentioned when trying to understand the iPod's success is the release date, October 23, 2001. A little over a month after 9/11. Everyone in America was still pretty bummed, if I remember right. We thought nothing would ever be the same; that we'd all have to be vigilant and well-informed and serious for the rest of our lives. We didn't, it turns out. Our culture was still there, and we are who we are, for better or for worse. It didn't take long for reminders of who we are to creep back into daily life, and now here we are. Hello!

Makes me wonder, if the iPod doesn't occupy some special place in the American psyche, because it helped come to a timely rescue. Did these simple, happy, ads stick in our heads; not simply hawking a music player, but as a reminder that there were still good reasons to be consumery, dancey, slightly oblivious Americans? Are we repaying the iPod for helping us not be sad forever?


kamapuaa said...

Sorry to not respond to all of the excellent points regarding the iPod's place in America's consciousness, but I really just dropped in to say "lol - Propellerheads"

FAKA! said...

"Are we repaying the iPod for helping us not be sad forever?"

I know Morrissey isn't =/

Then again he isn't American...