Dr. Drang:

Thirty years ago, in the “1984” Macintosh commercial directed by Ridley Scott, a young woman smashed the big screen her fellow citizens were forced to watch and obey. You imagine them standing up and rebelling afterwards.

Today, in the “Up” Apple Watch commercial seemingly directed by Stanley Milgram, a young woman docilely stands when a little screen strapped to her wrist tells her to

If “Up” were directed by Milgram1, the young woman would not decide to stand. She would simply stand, or would stand in fear of not standing. But this is not what we see. We see a woman who chose to buy a device that could improve her health. She’s offloaded her attention from the time of day to her Watch, which tells her when to stand. She knows her Watch is better at this than she is. The Watch empowers her to take healthy actions without much friction. She decided to buy it; she was not coerced, or misled, or forced. When we stare through the lens of rebellion we mistake her peace with docility. It’s all too easy to forget that standing is healthy, and the little screen strapped to her wrist is helping her. If she had set an alarm for fifty minutes past the hour, every hour, the lens of “1984” would seem less poignant. Buying and wearing the Watch is no different than setting those alarms.

We are at no one’s mercy.

  1. I think it’s more Pavlov than Milgram; Milgram’s studies had to do with power and how it corrupts.