Apple’s anti-Big Brother ad more relevant after 30 years

Apple’s anti-Big Brother ad more relevant after 30 years

Thirty years on, the 1984 Super Bowl best is remembered for Apple’s iconic “1984” commercial. It included references to Big Brother and Orwell’s “1984” novel, the repressive Soviet Union during a tense part of the Cold War and the approaching 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

But it mainly took aim at IBM, whose PC in 1981 had eclipsed the Apple II as the most popular personal computer. The commercial announced the Macintosh, the graphics-oriented PC that revolutionized computing, then and since.

The Mac ripped off technology developed by Xerox PARC. But Xerox by then was a lumbering, gigantic copier company that didn’t know what it had. And IBM was the global computing giant that seemed like a monolith.

IBM in the end itself couldn’t compete with such “IBM clone” competitors as Compaq and HP (since merged), Dell and others. IBM eventually sold its PC division to Lenovo, a company ironically in the land formerly run by top commie Mao Zedong, himself one of the biggest of the Big Brothers.

Big Big Brother

It also turned today the ultimate, Big Big Brother, with its “garden of pure ideology” and “information purification,” to quote the ad, ended up being the U.S. government.

And as in the novel “1984” and the “1984” Apple commercial, the U.S. government, as we learned last summer with the revelations about the NSA, spies on absolutely everything done by everybody. Ironically, its major snooping apparat is the very Internet that has done so much to free people’s thinking. The Fourth Amendment and privacy have been completely obliterated.

It’s also a little more than ironic that this occurred under the regime of President Obama, formerly a constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago. In his 2007 book, “The Audacity of Hope,” which I read, he even pledged to restore our civil rights after the depredations of the then regnant Bush administration.

Fortunately, unlike in “1984” the novel, the Internet now is so vast that Big Brother’s functionaries can’t keep track of every subversive thought. And it works both ways. The Internet lets us look back at Big Brother. To reuse a phrase I coined the other day:

“If the Government Abyss gazes long at you, you will gaze back at the Government Abyss.”

Our current politicians were youngsters before the age of social media. But that will change. We’ll be able to read Candidate X’s un-politically correct rantings in high school. And remember, what is P.C., by definition, changes by the year. So Candidate X, will discover that 15 years later he really was anti-P.C., and therefore will not be allowed to advance up the apparat ziggurat of Big Brother.

Won’t that be fun?

That’s why there’s great hope for the future. It’s why 2014 really didn’t turn out like “1984.”

“We shall prevail,” Big Brother proclaims in the TV ad. No they won’t.

Enjoy the Super Bowl.



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