Is parody the sincerest form of flattery? iPad humor

It is said that “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. Perhaps even more sincere, is “parody”.

Apple’s new “iPad” tablet computer will be launched tomorrow. There is intense debate, commentary and argument in some circles as to whether the product is a hit or miss. And all of that from (mostly) people who have never seen, let alone touched the ‘multi-touch’ device. Whatever your point of view, it is clear that Apple has developed incredible power to enter people’s lives via its marketing and its cultural values.

Aside from much of the comments, described by some as being from “Apple fanboys” and “Apple haters”, a few videos have appeared on sites like YouTube which aim to capitalize on the excitement and interest in the iPad, by making fun of the device. It would seem that much of this humor is however flattery, not least in its garnering of further attention for the iPad ‘story’ (some of the iPad parody videos have hundred’s of thousands of ‘views’ on YouTube).

The iPad is new, it’s still somewhat unclear where it will end up in our lives (if at all), and it has a name which at first many felt had connotations to other products (yes, it’s quite obvious, but that has thankfully died down in the meantime, since Steve Jobs first announced the iPad in January). As such, it is quite easy to make fun of.  It also won’t defend itself. Apple is too clever to respond to such videos, knowing that ultimately this is good publicity (possibly there have been exceptions that overstepped the mark, which Apple’s lawyers have quickly and quietly snuffled, but if so, they have managed to do so with little negative exposure).

There might even be an element of ‘Schadenfreude‘ out there, people hoping that the iPad will fail, maybe from those who are jealous of Apple’s seemingly unstoppable power to capture consumers attention, or those who see Apple’s success as an affront to their choice of Microsoft, Nokia, Google, or whatever other Apple-alternative they might be using.

Many of the parodies are aimed at the original Apple introductory video for the iPad (link), in which Apple employees raved about the iPad (a “magical, revolutionary device …”). To be fair, the introductory video’s extensive use of adjectives, used almost as if to idolize this new product, does make it easy for others to make fun of.

So, to share the fun, in anticipation of tomorrow’s launch, I’ve embedded examples of some of the skits below (ok, some of it is a little geeky, but if you made it this far, you’re probably intrigued). One of my favorites, and one of the earliest parodies (coming out not long after the announcement of the iPad) is the CollegeHumor skit “The iPad is a Comedy Gold Mine” – it is shown at the start of this post, and while YouTube have disabled it from being embedded in blogs (why?!) the link nevertheless works.

Some of the videos are clearly developed by amateurs, while others, such as the Doritos one, are more professional/commercial (seeking the benefits of viral marketing).  Two of the videos are captured from “Der Untergang” (“The Downfall”), a German film, released in 2004, about the last days of Hitler, from the perspective of his personal secretary Traudl Junge.

Note: I don’t condone wearing facemasks or taking videos while driving!  I am not responsible for the content of external internet sites, and do not necessarily agree with or support statements and views expressed in external internet sites, including the content of ‘YouTube videos’ which are embedded in this site.

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One Response

  1. Seems that the Hitler parodies have been removed from YouTube on the request of Constantin film (owners of the copyright of the film).

    Very odd, since the videos had ‘gone viral’ and provided marketing that Constantin would likely never achieve on its own.

    More here:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/apr/29/networker-john-naughton-downfall

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