3 March 2007 | tedg
Regular readers know I do not own a TeeVee. I consider them harmful to the visual imagination, and cannot think of anything on the box worth the compromise. Except the Oscars. So we rent a hotel room for that night to watch. And this time I am glad I did because of the surprise Apple ad.
Students of film will recall when the Mac was introduced in 1984, by the famed Superbowl ad. It was sixty seconds or so, made by Ridley Scott who had already turned the world of science fiction upside down with "Alien" and "Bladerunner." The legend of the ad was that it was aired just that once. It may be the most famous ad in TeeVee history. When the board of Apple balked at the cost, Jobs paid for it personally. Since then, the whole world has copied (in better or worse fashion) what was introduced by that woman runner.
This Oscar show may have been worthwhile in itself, not because of the awards but because we see film personalities playing the hardest role: themselves. But this iPhone ad, and the surprise of it meant that you were there. Its like seeing Jack Ruby shoot Osward live, or see the first step on the moon.
To appreciate the beauty of it, you have to realize how the Oscar show is assembled. The tone of the thing is that there is the Academy who presents itself as the champion of film history: each award of the year is in the context of a hundred years, all of which the Academy members supposedly know and honor. This is underscored each year with several montages, collections of film snippets assembled around a theme.
This is in the midst of other "entertainments." The host tells jokes, some nominated songs are sung, and there is usually another thin thing, this time Philobus shadow imagers. The montages are inserted as entertainment, and edited as such, so that we can guess the origin of the clip. But you have to be fast.
So this ad started and we all thought it was part of the show: clips that showed characters answering the phone. Only after it was over do you see it was an ad, indicated by the word "hello" and an image of the iPhone. The device won't appear for 4 months after I write this, but I will make a prediction about the product that will make this ad seem important in retrospect.
I predict as with many others, you will be able to buy ringtones from the iTunes Music Store. That's a bit obvious. I predict further that you will be able to buy "hello" video clips that will play on the caller's iPhone when you answer. Why do I think that?
Because I know it possible with the changes Apple is forcing on ATT/Cinglaur for video voice messages. But more because I know that Hollywood has been studying methods for fractional licensing of movies. The same person who would shell out $3 for two seconds of Bogart answering a call from his girlfriend would have trouble paying the same $3 for the entire movie to watch. Films will become marketing platforms in the future for snippets of themselves. I'm actually entering this side of the business and think it will be huge.
But it will also change film forever. Starting that night, with that ad.
So far as the show itself: hey, so the Academy gets to make awards based on who they like if they can also bend in some lessor awards to the Latino and Black ticketbuyers. Ho hum.
The clip from this show that will last is probably the host's declaration in Bush's face that there would be no awards without Jews, Blacks and Gays. Maybe that's a milestone too.
Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.