Values like “social responsibility” and “environmental stewardship” get great lip service from cutting-edge American companies (especially tech companies), but if anyone thinks it’s anything but self-serving hype designed to assuage the conscience of liberal consumers, they’re as deluded as the companies are.
Exhibit A: Apple, which earlier this month announced the upcoming rollout of its Apple Watch, a device so unnecessary that they’re dispensing with the pretense and pitching it as a straight-up status symbol. The top-of-the-line model will sell for $17,000, and be sold in exclusive boutiques built for the special purpose of showing the self-pampering ultra-rich how they can further demonstrate their special pedigree.
Take a gander at their precious-metal porn:
Hard and/or wet yet? Wait! We haven’t even gotten to the truly obscene part: This $17,000 golden shower will be obsolete in two years!
So even as Apple insists on its website that “We want to leave the world better than we found it,” the company has become a shameless promoter of the gross economic inequality and rampant consumption that are two of the main driving forces of the planet’s degradation. Meanwhile, they expect us to swallow PR tripe like this: “We work tirelessly to reduce our impact on climate change, find ways to use greener materials, and conserve the resources we all need to thrive.” As if using a few recycled plastic parts on disposable luxury gadgets does anything for the Earth or its people.
Apple has been flirting with narcissism—its own, and its customers’—for years, but its self-love is now verging on megalomania. Consider how the following PR video might play as a drinking game, where you have to drink every time Apple dishes up a self-stroking whopper:
Wow! I’m already way past my limit, but if you’ve got a hollow leg, belly up to the bar for this next video. In it, Apple suggests that the supermodel Christy Turlington, by wearing an Apple Watch on a half-marathon on Kilimanjaro, somehow helps poor and dispossessed Africans (some of whom, it must be noted, work under slave-labor conditions mining the precious minerals used in….Apple Watches!):
Of course, the news media have been long-since co-opted as an arm of the Apple marketing machine, so we’ve got to turn to Comedy Central for the only thing resembling a dose of reality. Take it away, Larry Wilmore:
Did you catch that—the bit about the suicide nets in the Apple factories? That’s the tip of the iceberg of the reality Apple is whitewashing. So go ahead and put in your pre-order for your Apple Watch if you want. Just remember that a silly joke from a black guy pretending to be Amish is truer than all Apple’s sonorous PR put together: “The same way we’re ignoring how this stuff gets made is the same way a Northerner in the 1850s was feeling about a comfy pair of cotton drawers.” (If only those poor plantation owners had lived in the information age, when they could have gotten their real message out—about how much they cared about the land and the people who worked it….)
“We have a long way to go and a lot to learn,” Apple says. That much, at least, is true.
Here it is, your moment of Zen: