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1984 January 28, 2009

Posted by slickpig in gender, television.
Tags: , , , ,

This is a clip that has been circulating around the net recently. It’s Apple’s superbowl commercial for the first Macintosh, which depicts a dystopic future, like 1984. A large computer screen speaks to a crowd of men, who are all dressed in the same grey uniforms (It calls to mind the workers of Metropolis). The screen is then destroyed by a woman wearing bright clothing, wielding a sledgehammer. Can this commercial be any more perfect to analyze? Gender! Technology! But don’t take my word for it.  Have a look for yourself.  

I think the commercial is playing off the fear people have about technology, that it erases human diversity, that it is conformative and controlling. In a world ruled by technology everything will be grey, everything will be the same. This is also represented through gender. The male figure on the screen is pitted against the female figure with the sledgehammer. The male figure is an older gentleman, and appears not in the flesh but on a large screen. This aligns him with ideas about dominance and control. His age vis a vis the youth of the woman is meant to evoke the idea that this is an old kind of technology or an older idea about technology, outdated and about to be overthrown. The choice to have a woman be the destroyer of this dominating technology is extremely interesting. It is in line with many other representations of women and technology, I’m thinking specifically here about Metropolis and the Robot Maria, in that when technology is mixed with women and femininity, it is generally a more destructive force, much more wild and uncontrollable. The fact that the woman uses a sledgehammer, a fairly primitive tool in what seems to be a fairly hi-tech society, again has much to do with humanizing her. Her choice of tool is old, familiar, yet she utilizes it in a creative way to take down her foe. Apple is trying in this commercial to humanize technology, to explain that their computers don’t supersede the humanity in all of us, but rather aid us in furthering and extending ourselves. It is about individualization and creativity, which Apple represents through the image of the female in this commercial.


1. baimeeker - January 28, 2009

What an awesome video! What about the colors in the commercial? The contrast of cold, metallic silver with the woman’s outfit (red and white) also has this effect.

2. mccuemonster - January 28, 2009

I thought the message in the video was great from the female prospective. I wonder if a woman invented the commercial or how they decided it would be a woman who through the hammer to trigger the revolution. I definitely agree that much thought went into the colors and actions of the woman in order to make her stand alone and not be remotely compared to her surroundings. I also noticed how the commercial was directly focused on the message they were trying to send; demonstrated by not drawing a considerable amount of attention to the woman obviously she was a attractive woman but she was clothed and did not try to behave in a manner to exploit her sexuality. It is refreshing to see a commercial (yes it is from the 80s haha) that doesn’t substitute sexual appeal for their message.

3. smike97k - January 29, 2009

I really liked this comercial becuase I think that it could still be used today in many ways, and might be good to use to day because it depicts a female in control and again opens up the idea for newer and newer technology that can be accessed by men and women alike.
I like the comparison made between the woman in this commercial and Robot Maria in Metropolis, a character who creates massive mayheam. The idea that the mixture of the female and techonology leads to destruction is an interesting one, whether it be good destruction of a poor construction, destruction of something good. Not only is this commercial playing off the fear that many of us have about technology, but it is trying to show that we hold the beginning of this technology, and that it can be manipulated constantly

4. aliruppel165 - January 29, 2009

WOW! I think that this video for the superbowl– 1984 is great! I agree completely from a female prospective this commercial is very interesting. Most superbowl commercials depict women in few cloths to sell the product and someways themselves. I agree that this message in 1984 is pointing to go beyond this “superbowl” sexyness and show women as strong “creators” who can do any thing. I think that this a great example of media showing women possessing skills of new technology instead of selling a product to the fans on the day of a game. Finally, to further this “new”image of a women in 1984, the women is depicted wearing shorts(that arent that long) instead of scandalous couture.

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