December 6, 2010
Apple’s The Beatles
What’s both brilliant and extraordinarily chilling is the degree to which corporate America has taken over and melded political, corporate, popular and public culture, using Madison Avenue to spin the interests of “the man” to convince “the man in the street” that what the boardroom wants — at the consistent expense of the citizen/consumer — is what’s right, just and cool.
This billboard, which has sprouted in LA, nearly stopped me in my tracks when I first saw it yesterday. What larger cultural icon could the one on the left equate itself to, and in fact, successfully graft than the one the right?
As I see it, the billboard is doing two things. First, it’s drawing equivalence through comparison. The message is: what The Beatles were as a cultural presence and an icon of cool the Apple corporation is now.
The billboard, as an announcement, also trumpets possession. Here, its message (designed in a way that suggests, if slightly less minimally, Apple’s version of The White Album) serves as a big fat announcement that the Beatles, as one of the greatest cultural phenomenons of the past 100 years (the band pictured in their last days, adding to the sense that “that was then, and we’re it now”) has just been fully acquired by America’s Silicon Valley, three years after the Beatle’s Apple Corps. logo and brand were fully acquired by Apple, Inc. after an almost twenty year on-again, off-again trademark war.
While kids download away, I’d say we’ve lost a revolution.
(4:30 pm PST. Last paragraph expanded.)