Charlie Brooker on Macs

Charlie Brooker is one of the few television critics I have time for because a) he’s very funny b) he doesn’t take it seriously c) he doesn’t spend the whole time hinting he’d rather be bathing in Camembert while deconstructing Derrida and d) he’s very funny. Here he is on Apple’s new and increasingly ubiquitous ad campaign:

The ads are adapted from a near-identical American campaign – the only difference is the use of Mitchell and Webb. They are a logical choice in one sense (everyone likes them), but a curious choice in another, since they are best known for the television series Peep Show – probably the best sitcom of the past five years – in which Mitchell plays a repressed, neurotic underdog, and Webb plays a selfish, self-regarding poseur. So when you see the ads, you think, “PCs are a bit rubbish yet ultimately lovable, whereas Macs are just smug, preening tossers.” In other words, it is a devastatingly accurate campaign.

Which leads into a glorious diatribe against Macs:

I hate Macs. I have always hated Macs. I hate people who use Macs. I even hate people who don’t use Macs but sometimes wish they did. Macs are glorified Fisher-Price activity centres for adults; computers for scaredy cats too nervous to learn how proper computers work; computers for people who earnestly believe in feng shui.

PCs are the ramshackle computers of the people. You can build your own from scratch, then customise it into oblivion. Sometimes you have to slap it to make it work properly, just like the Tardis (Doctor Who, incidentally, would definitely use a PC). PCs have charm; Macs ooze pretension. When I sit down to use a Mac, the first thing I think is, “I hate Macs”, and then I think, “Why has this rubbish aspirational ornament only got one mouse button?” Losing that second mouse button feels like losing a limb. If the ads were really honest, Webb would be standing there with one arm, struggling to open a packet of peanuts while Mitchell effortlessly tore his apart with both hands. But then, if the ads were really honest, Webb would be dressed in unbelievably po-faced avant-garde clothing with a gigantic glowing apple on his back. And instead of conducting a proper conversation, he would be repeatedly congratulating himself for looking so cool, and banging on about how he was going to use his new laptop to write a novel, without ever getting round to doing it, like a mediocre idiot.

Obviously, he is not entirely serious. A possibility lost on most of the commenters, but then this is Comment is Free where if you don’t disagree you simply aren’t trying hard enough. It’s worth reading the first, though:

Hello. Charlie Brooker here.

I wrote this piffle. Then it was subbed. And whoever subbed it decided to add a bit describing Doom as “the first shoot-em-up game”.

Words fail me.

They also changed every abbreviation -– so “they’re” becomes “they are” and “it’s” becomes “it is”, and so on — presumably in an attempt to inject a bit more plodding, impersonal joylessness to the whole thing.

Bet they did it on a Mac, too.

I’ve never used Macs much, so don’t have an opinion one way or another. I am entertained by Apple’s telling people not to upgrade to Vista because iTunes isn’t ready yet, mind. It’s a bit like me saying ‘I know there were nine months of betas and release candidates, but my website doesn’t work with Internet Explorer 7 and it’s your own fault if you have any problems – you should wait until I’m ready’.