Explaining the press corps' crush on Apple.

Previously published Slate articles made new.
Jan. 25 2010 4:43 PM

The Apple Polishers

Explaining the press corps' crush on Steve Jobs and company.

(Continued from Page 1)

Apple manipulates several narratives to continue to make its products interesting fodder for journalists. One is the never-ending story of mad genius Steve Jobs, who would be great copy if he were only the night manager of a Domino's pizza joint. The next is Apple's perpetual role as scrappy underdog—reporters love cheerleading for the underdog without ever pausing to explore why it isn't the overdog. (This is why the Brooklyn Dodgers will always rate higher in the minds of writers than the superior New York Yankees.) Apple incites fanaticism about its products via ad campaigns and evangelist outreach programs designed to make its customers feel as though they're part of a privileged and enlightened elite. One unnamed loser at Slate says today's V-iPod news made her want to rush out and buy one, even though she already owns two iPods, one of which she bought three weeks ago.

This mock ad for iProduct cracks the fetishistic code of the Apple cult:

Advertisement

Apple iProduct. You'll Buy it. And You'll Like It.
Do you like Apple products? Do you live for every product announcement, every incremental upgrade, every rumor and screenshot? Do you wank and blare and drone and fucking gurgle about Apple products morning, noon, and night? Then get ready for iProduct. You'll be blown away. No matter what it is.

If the press corps possessed any institutional memory, it would recall the introduction of the Apple III+, the Lisa, the Macintosh Portable, the Mac TV, the Newton, the Apple G4 Cube, and eWorld. All were greeted with great press fanfare before falling off the edge of the world. Hell, all the press corps really needs to put Apple products in perspective is a few short-term memory neurons focused on the fanfare visited upon recent, mediocre iPod releases. Only a year ago the company received excited press notices when it introduced the iPod Photo, now acknowledged to be a failed product. I searched Nexis to find a mention of the iPod Photo in the hundreds of V-iPod newspaper stories from today and found only one. Of the wildly heralded but totally average iPod Shuffle, released in January 2005, I found only two.

When the V-iPod's super-duper, long-lasting, big-screen replacement shows up in 12 months, the press will have forgotten this second-rate box, too.

******

Interest declared: I have worked for Slate since it was founded by the cult of Microsoft, an Apple competitor, about 10 years ago. Slate is now owned by the Washington Post Co., which is controlled by a family cult of Class A stock owners led by Donald E. Graham.

I'm eager to hear from all of you dear pod people, but before you e-mail me at slate.pressbox@gmail.com, please note that the target of this article is not your beloved Apple gadgets but press coverage. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

Jack Shafer was Slate's editor at large. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at Shafer.Reuters@gmail.com.

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