Rage Against the Apple Machine

The controversial iPad ad proves that technology can indeed flatten—or crush—what is real.

A recent advertisement from Apple for the new iPad Pro has somehow managed to existentially disturb me. Titled “Crush!” it shows an ominous hydraulic press above a platform filled with symbols of humanity, creativity, and joy: a metronome, guitar, classical statue, piano, analog cameras, books, paint, and more.

The metronome starts, and the press descends to Sonny & Cher’s “All I Need Is You,” slowly obliterating everything in high-def slow motion, before rising again to reveal only a “thinner than ever” iPad Pro. “Just imagine all the things it’ll be used to create,” Apple CEO Tim Cook posted on the social platform X.

I am not alone in my revulsion. Actors Hugh Grant and Justine Bateman join me, as do apparently thousands of vocal people on the Internet and what appears to be the entire nation of Japan. The backlash, particularly from the “creatives” that Apple was courting for their product, was so pronounced that the company issued a rare apology, saying they had “missed the mark.”

But what mark did they miss? More than missing just the tastes of their buyers, they missed the mark of reality—both of the creative process and of the goodness of the embodied nature that is essential to our humanity.

I see why Apple produced the ad. There is tremendous economic incentive for tech corporations to replace previous, more embodied experiences and tools. Apple Music will never scratch like the fragile grooves of a vinyl record (also, it contains most of the recorded music in the world). GarageBand can’t go out of tune (and its digital “instruments” can mimic the entire orchestra). One can “paint” all day on …

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