The most nauseating advert in history? The Windows 7 ‘launch party’
I admit it: I’m a bigot. A hopeless bigot at that: I know my particular prejudice is absurd, but I just can’t control it. It’s Apple. I don’t like Apple products. And the better-designed and more ubiquitous they become, the more I dislike them. I blame the customers. Awful people. Awful. Stop showing me your iPhone. Stop stroking your Macbook. Stop telling me to get one.
Seriously, stop it. I don’t care if Mac stuff is better. I don’t care if Mac stuff is cool. I don’t care if every Mac product comes equipped a magic button on the side that causes it to piddle gold coins and resurrect the dead and make holographic unicorns dance inside your head. I’m not buying one, so shut up and go home. Go back to your house. I know, you’ve got an iHouse. The walls are brushed aluminum. There’s a glowing Apple logo on the roof. And you love it there. You absolute MONSTER.
Of course, it’s safe to assume Mac products are indeed as brilliant as their owners make out. Why else would they spend so much time trying to convert non-believers? They’re not getting paid. They simply want to spread their happiness, like religious crusaders.
Consequently, nothing pleases them more than watching a PC owner struggle with a slab of non-Mac machinery. It validates their spiritual choice. Recently I sat in a room trying to write something on a Sony Vaio PC laptop which seemed to be running a special slow-motion edition of Windows Vista specifically designed to infuriate human beings as much as possible. Trying to get it to do anything was like issuing instructions to a depressed employee over a sluggish satellite feed. When I clicked on an application it spent a small eternity contemplating the philosophical implications of opening it, begrudgingly complying with my request several months later. It drove me up the wall. I called it a bastard and worse. At one point I punched a table.
This drew the attention of two nearby Mac owners. They hovered over and stood beside me, like placid monks.
“Ah: the delights of Vista,” said one.
“It really is time you got a Mac,” said the other.
“They’re just better,” sang monk number one.
“You won’t regret it,” whispered the second.
I scowled and returned to my infernal machine, like a dishevelled park-bench boozer shrugging away two pious AA recruiters by pulling a grubby, dented hip flask from his pocket and pointedly taking an extra deep swig. Leave me alone, I thought. I don’t care if you’re right. I just want you to die.
I know Windows is awful. Everyone knows Windows is awful. Windows is like the faint smell of piss in a subway: it’s there, and there’s nothing you can do about it. OK, OK: I know other operating systems are available. But their advocates seem even creepier, snootier and more insistent than Mac owners. The harder they try to convince me, the more I’m repelled. To them, I’m a sheep. And they’re right. I’m a helpless, stupid, lazy sheep. I’m also a masochist. And that’s why I continue to use Windows – horrible Windows – even though I hate every second of it. It’s grim, it’s slow, everything’s badly designed and nothing really works properly: using Windows is like living in a communist bloc nation circa 1981. And I wouldn’t change it for the world, because I’m an abject bloody idiot and I hate myself, and this is what I deserve: to be sentenced to Windows for life.
That’s why Windows works for me. But I’d never recommend it to anybody else, ever. This puts me in line with roughly everybody else in the world. No one has ever earnestly turned to a fellow human being and said, “Hey, have you considered Windows?” Not in the real world at any rate.
Until now. Microsoft, hellbent on tackling the conspicuous lack of word-of-mouth recommendation, is encouraging people – real people – to host “Windows 7 launch parties” to celebrate the 22 October release of, er, Windows 7. The idea is that you invite a group of friends – your real friends – to your home – your real home – and entertain them with a series of Windows 7 tutorials. So you show them how to burn a CD, how to make a little video, how to change the wallpaper, and how to, oh no, hang on it’s not supposed to do that, oh, I think it’s frozen, um, er, let me just, um, no that’s not it, um, er, um, er, so how’s it going with you and Kathy anyway, um, er, OK well see you around I guess.
To assist the party-hosting massive, they’ve also uploaded a series of spectacularly cringeworthy videos to YouTube, in which the four most desperate actors in the world stand around in a kitchen sharing tips on how best to indoctrinate guests in the wonder of Windows. If they were staring straight down the lens reading hints off a card it might be acceptable; instead they have been instructed to pretend to be friends. The result is the most nauseating display of artificial camaraderie since the horrific Doritos “Friendchips” TV campaign (which caused 50,000 people to kill themselves in 2003, or should have done).
It’s so terrible, it induces an entirely new emotion: a blend of vertigo, disgust, anger and embarrassment which I like to call “shitasmia”. It not only creates this emotion: it defines it. It’s the most shitasmic cultural artefact in history. Watch it for yourself.
Still, bad though it is, I vaguely prefer the clumping, clueless, uncool, crappiness of Microsoft’s bland Stepford gang to the creepy assurance of the average Mac evangelist. At least the grinning dildos in the Windows video are fictional, whereas eerie replicant Mac monks really are everywhere, standing over your shoulder in their charcoal pullovers, smirking with amusement at your hopelessly inferior OS, knowing they’re better than you because they use Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard.
Snow Leopard. SNOW LEOPARD.
I don’t care if you’re right. I just want you to die.
I love my Mac, and a month of using a Vista machine at work has demonstrated that I can’t go back to that bad, bad place anymore. With any luck my new Mac shows up this week and I can get actual work done.
That said, this guy has a point. I’m really getting tired of the whole product evangelist thing. I think it ties into my utter contempt for most product salespeople. Most of the time they are selling “solutions” that have no correspondence to a problem I’m actually having.1
Selling a product as the key to a desirable lifestyle was old hat when the moneychangers set up shop outside the Temple.
OK, I get it.
But the next step is for you to discount any problem I have with the product YOU’RE pushing as a lack of understanding, or faith, or knowledge of my true Buddha nature, or some other thing. (Actually, most of my problems probably DO stem from my lack of understanding of my own Buddha nature, but I can assure you my understanding it better ain’t gonna push much product for you. A lack of attachment kind of kills the buying mood. Don’t encourage it).
We live in an off-the-shelf world, but our problems are always one-offs. And that’s the way it’s always going to be.
Anyway, I liked this article.
1I became aware of 9/11 from a salesman who was cold-calling me. Planes are smashing into the World Trade Center and all this guy can think of is selling me videotape stock. Think about that for a minute.